7 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Success—and How to Stop!

So you’ve been exercising consistently, and can’t wait to watch that number on your Fitbit Aria scale go down. Except, it’s not budging—and it may even be going up. What’s going on?

If you’ve recently set a health or fitness goal, but you’re not seeing the results you hoped for, self-sabotage—or rather, inadvertently hindering new healthy habits, by making less health-conscious choices in other areas of life—could be to blame. Here, certified fitness coach and Fitstar trainer Adrian Richardson identifies seven ways you might be accidentally-not-on-purpose holding yourself back, and offers up strategies to get you back on track.

The Setback: You Have Unrealistic Expectations

The Fix: Set “slow and steady” goals

“People often hope to see huge changes right away—only to feel discouraged when they don’t,” says Richardson. “Odds are, you didn’t gain that extra weight in 30 days, so you shouldn’t expect to lose it in 30 days either.” Skip the latest diet or fitness trend and focus on making healthy food choices and regular exercise part of your everyday routine. “Sustainability is the key to steadfast success,” says Richardson. “If you try to do too much, too soon, you not only run the risk of injuring yourself, but will likely burnout before you’ve seen any lasting results.”

The Setback: Your Routine is Too Rigid

The Fix: Create (and stick to!) an evolving plan

You’ve got to make a plan and stick to it to reach your goals. But while driving down the Get Fit Freeway of life, it’s smart to assume you’ll encounter speed bumps and detours, says Richardson. Look at your schedule, consider all of your commitments—work, family, social—and then think about the activities you will actually enjoy doing. “Create a manageable plan that leaves room for life, and pick the low hanging fruit first,” advises Richardson. “Set a goal of 30 minutes of activity three times a week—biking, walking, swimming, and bodyweight workouts are all good options,” says Richardson. “Then, after a few consistent weeks of reaching that goal while juggling all of your responsibilities, you can build upon it.” You might be ready to add a fourth day into the mix. And after that? Maybe in another month you’ll want to increase your workouts to 45 minutes. Soon there will be no stopping you!

The Setback: You’re Going It Alone

The Fix: Get support and advice from true pros

Many people think getting and staying in shape can be a one-person job—just eat less and go to the gym, right? Turns out it’s not that easy—if it were, everyone would be doing it, and thriving. Having a professional behind your plan can help it stick. Think about elite athletes—even at the top of their game they rely on coaches to guide their training. So if you’re serious about seeing results, find a certified trainer who can help you design a routine, or sign up for a program that offers customized video workouts, like Fitstar Personal Trainer, to help you reach your goals faster.  

The Setback: You’re Making Too Many Allowances

The Fix: Be Smart About Treats

Many people make the mistake of thinking exercise cancels out unhealthy eating habits. What’s a side of fries when you plan to go for a run later? But That’s not how it works, says Richardson. “Unfortunately the amount of exercise needed to counter poor choices is astronomical!” No joke—it takes about 270 burpees to wipe the calorie slate clear after wolfing down a piece of pepperoni pizza! That doesn’t mean you can’t eat the foods you love or splurge occasionally. “A treat is a treat because you enjoy it every once in awhile, not regularly,” says Richardson. “Making too many allowances sets you up for a fitness plan fail.” Avoid that frustration and disappointment (not to mention feeling too sluggish to move after rich meals, or not sleeping well because of too much dessert!), by being mindful about when and how often you indulge.

The Setback: You’re Hanging with Indulgent Friends

The Fix: Line up your cheerleaders

Take a look at your  support system. “Who’s keeping you accountable? Who’s giving you encouragement?” asks Richardson. Some friends and family members might veer you off course, either intentionally or accidentally, and it’s important to know who you can go to when you need a boost. Spend more time with the people in your life who cheer you on, join you for runs, and share their favorite healthy recipes with you. That friend you only ever meet for the all-you-can-eat buffets and gossip fests? If she’s not interested in healthier, more active outings, it’s time to start squeezing her out of your social calendar.

The Setback: You’re Parched—and Don’t Even Know It

The Fix: Hydrate Your Way to Better Health

You know drinking water is good for you—there’s no denying proper hydration can help fuel your health and fitness. But sipping enough—and even knowing how much to drink to begin with—can be a real struggle. “Even worse, some people forget to take in extra fluids to compensate for the sweat they lose during workouts,” says Richardson. “Drinking enough water before, during, and after a workout is crucial,” he says, “and staying hydrated throughout the day can help squash spontaneous food cravings.” To stay on track, you can set a hydration goal and log your water in your Fitbit app.

The Setback: You’re Skimping on Sleep

The Fix: Stick to a Regular Bedtime

Quality sleep is crucial for your overall health and wellbeing, and it becomes even more important when you set a weight loss goal or want to nail a fitness target. That’s why Richardson encourages his clients to keep a consistent bedtime, and power-down screens an hour before bed. “It’s a good idea to limit non-sleep activities, like trolling social media and bingeing on TV, when you’re tucking in for the night,” says Richardson. “Think of your bed as a place you go for rest and recovery,” he says, “so you can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the next day, and the next workout.”

Drink a little more water here, lean on a few friends there; make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and think of burpees before mindlessly chowing down at that pizza party. There’s room for improvement in every routine. Just remember: you are a work in progress, and since you’re building this new healthy lifestyle, you can craft it as you go!

7 Comments   Join the Conversation

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • What is the best way in choosing a gym. I have one that is 10 minutes from me but they don’t maintain the gym at all. I have another that is 13 minutes from me, I like the sauna in there, other than that, I am not comfortable on the floor of the gym, I am intimidated in there. I have others that are 20 minutes away, I don’t know if I should live my membership that I have and go to another gym, it is very frustrating to me.

  • I bike ride daily. I van do weight excersizes because of a pulled rotor cup and I’m 67 so I don’t want to do to much so I watch what I eat. I went from 270 to 213 over the past two years And here I stay no matter how much I do
    So how can i break my plateau without becoming a rabbit

  • Hi, Kate…

    I like your comment about tending to reward ourselves with a “treat” after we have had a good workout and burned a bunch of calories. Admittedly, I believe there are a number of folks that will easily “justify” that pizza or ice cream or whatever, and it becomes more than just an occasional treat. Thanks for the reinforcement relative to the frequency of treats. There is no way I want to go out and do 270 burpees for the pizza I had last night…all the best!

  • I bike for 30 min. each day on a stationary bike at the gym, but I don’t “receive any credit.” What can I do?
    Also, sometimes I receive sustained credit without actually performing it. How does that happen?

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