The mantra around these parts has always been, fitness is simple. The goal of this blog has always been to show you how easy it can be to get fit. Whether it’s giving you healthy recipes or new workouts to try out, I try to simplify everything and make it as easy to follow as possible. Now, when I say easy, I mean in theory; losing weight, getting toned, getting ripped…whatever your goals may be, is easy. If you’re reading this, then you’re all human. As humans, your body will physiologically respond to well-designed workouts and diets. Getting from point A to point B is a matter of sticking to these workouts and diet. Simple right?
Of course, things in the real world are never as easy as they are on paper. That thing between your ears has a strangle hold on your thoughts, feelings, and motivation. Even an easy to follow, well-designed plan is able to be rendered useless if your motivation is sapped. In other words, we may know we need to take steps X, Y, and Z to lose the weight or simply get fit, but if we can’t get ourselves to consistently abide by steps A, B, and C, we’re never getting anywhere.
Why Some People Can Get Fit…..and Others Never Get Anywhere
In all my years in the fitness biz, I’ve seen a whole lot of people succeed…and I’ve seen a whole lot of people fail.
Have you ever wondered what separates the people who are successfully able to get fit and take themselves to a whole new level, from those who burn out, quit, and spend their lives stuck in a repetitive cycle that goes nowhere? In my opinion, understanding this difference is the best and most important bit of knowledge any fitness provider can have. You can develop the most amazing workouts in the worlds for your clients or blog readers…but if you can’t show them how to avoid the burn out and cycle to nowhere….your workouts are useless.
Because of this feeling, I’ve spent a lot of time observing which traits the successful individuals share. On the flip side, I’ve spent even more time trying to find commonalities between those who failed to reach their goals. By identifying the differences between these groups, I think I’ve uncovered what I like to call The Seven Deadly Sin of Fitness. These traits are increasingly common amongst those who failed to actually get fit or reach whatever goal they set for themselves.
By understanding the things to avoid, you should be able to put yourself in a better position to succeed and avoid the pitfalls that have claimed the fitness goals of many before you.
Sin #1: Too Much Too Soon
This is a common mistake I’ve seen a lot of very new exercisers make. Maybe they’re on a new fitness plan or just signed up for a new gym. Of course, they ran down to Lululemon and dropped half a paycheck on all new, fancy, cute workout clothes. They’re psyched up and ready to go. Their first day in the gym goes off without a hitch. They’re totally digging this whole healthy living/get fit thing. Day two comes and goes without a problem. By day three they’re convinced they’re already seeing a difference in the mirror and want to speed things up. They begin creating unrealistic expectations for themselves. They tell themselves they’re going to run 5 miles before work everyday, then hit the weights at night. They put themselves on a fitness plan that would make an even an Olympian shiver with fear.
Sure enough, within a matter of weeks or even days, they’ve burnt themselves out and as a result, experience a total let down and loss of motivation. This loss of motivation carries over and they find themselves missing workouts and falling back into the cycle of inconsistency which is the absolute biggest obstacle between you and the body and health of your dreams. Moral of the story? Take it slow and steady. I know you want that fitness mag cover model body NOW, but it just doesn’t work that way. Take it day by day and your motivation will INCREASE, putting you in a great position to slowly add longer and harder workouts in time.
Sin #2: Taking an Unbalanced Approach
When I say “get fit”, I mean, improve your cardiovascular endurance, build lean muscle mass, improve flexibility, and generally achieve a higher level of health. Too many people are focused on only ONE of the above goals and are ultimately let down by what they achieve. I’ll be honest, I used to be one of those people. When I was younger, I was only concerned with adding muscle mass. I did cardio maybe a dozen times a year. The end result? A disproportionate body, endless burnout cycles, and a poor level of health and fitness.
A solid fitness plan should incorporate both cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, as well as some sort of foam rolling and/or stretching routine. When we diversify our workouts, we’re less likely to burn out; believe me, lifting weights for the 10th day in a row gets tedious. But when you’ve got yoga one day, a complex workout the next, HIIT biking the day after that, etc. you’re always looking forward to something new. The people who are most successful have the most diverse types of workouts and unsurprisingly, the best and healthiest bodies. You want to get fit? Get balanced.
Sin #3: Forgetting the Most Important Piece of the Puzzle…Your Diet
You’ve probably heard it before, but I’ll say it again…your diet is 60% of the battle to get fit, lose weight…whatever your goal may be. The greatest fitness plan in the world isn’t going to do anything if your diet isn’t on point. Maybe you need to educate yourself as to what a clean, healthy diet is, but if you want any shot at getting fit, you’ve got to do it. I’ve seen so many people continue to eat what they pleased, or worse, indulged even more because they were now working out. Unpredictably, all their time in the gym led to very little progress and they inevitably got burned out and fell back into that cycle to nowhere. Really though, who can blame them? You put in all these hours at the gym and get nowhere…how do you not get disappointed and want to quit?
If you learn to make a concerted effort about what you’re putting in your body, your progress will exponentially increase. There’s nothing quite like seeing someone who has the workout stuff in check, but finally gets the whole nutrition thing. THESE are the people who everyone enviously stares at when they walk around the gym. You need to put as much effort into your diet as you do your workouts. Once you do that, the sky is the limit.
Sin #4: Becoming a Cardio Addict
For those who aren’t tremendously overweight, and simply want to shed a few pounds while tightening and toning up, overdoing the cardio is one of the worst things you can do. A lot of you guys and girls out there ask me “how do I get toned?” Being “toned” simply means you have less body fat covering your muscles, thereby making them look more defined or “toned”. Without the muscle, you’re not going to achieve that toned look. You don’t need to explain it to me…you don’t want to be skin and bones. You want curves. You want muscular definition. You want to look athletic. I get it. While you may be hitting the weights, if you’re doing hours upon hours of cardio trying to get “toned” you’re going to burn away all the muscle your gaining, and then some.
It’s a huge mistake to think the best way to get lean is by loading up on the cardio. While cardio is an important part of any fitness plan, it can come around to bite you in the ass if you aren’t careful. If you want to look like a marathon runner, all skin and bones, go ahead and do hours of cardio. If you want to look like a lean, mean, athletic machine, take a balanced approach and respect the muscles you’ve worked so hard for.
Sin #5: Looking at/Emulating Others and Expecting Their Results
Each one of you is an individual. You have a different genetic makeup along with a different anatomical structure. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. This is the reason some people can eat whatever they want, do a few crunches and have a “perfect” body. You on the other hand may have to work harder. You can’t look at that chick you see every night at the gym, do the same exercises as her, and expect to have an identical butt. So many people assume it works like this, then get disappointed and burnt out when they don’t get the results they want.
The goal when you try to get fit and improve your health is maximizing your God-given potential. You can only strive for YOUR best, not someone else’s. That said, don’t sell yourself short either. Push yourself to your personal limits, stay consistent, and have patience and you’ll be pretty amazed at the results.
Sin #6: Reading too Many Magazines…or Other Shady Sources of Information
Just last night, I was at the grocery store and I walked past a check-out aisle. I saw a women’s fitness magazine. Emblazoned on the front cover, right next to the
airbrushed fitness model were the words; “Your Dream Body in 2 Weeks!”. I laughed to myself thinking about the ridiculousness of that statement, but then something dawned on me. A lot of people actually believe these type of things. Even if you’re an undying optimist….is a size 18 really going to achieve her “dream body” in just two short weeks? Get real, people.
These claims aren’t limited to magazines. Diet pills, exercise DVD’s, websites…they’re everywhere. Don’t fall into the “get fit quick” schemes. Just like you wouldn’t trust those emails from that banker in Nigeria who wants to give you $2,000,000 just for the hell of it, don’t trust too good to be true fitness claims. To get fit takes a little while. You’ll notice progress along the way, but it’s not going to happen in two weeks. It won’t even happen in 4 weeks. Fitness is a lifelong journey that doesn’t end. You’ll always get better, you’ll always improve, but you can’t set unrealistic expectations or you’ll simply lose motivation and burn out.
Sin #7: Fear
Fear strikes both men and women, and I’ve seen it countless times over. More often than not, the fear is fat. Exercisers are so afraid of fat, they’ll do anything to avoid it. The problem, and irony of it all, is what they’re doing to avoid the fat, is actually making them fat. I’ve seen women who wouldn’t go near the free weight section, or lift a weight heavier than a can of soup for fear of getting bulky (okay, not a fear of fat…but similar). I’ve seen guys who would pump all the weight in the world then go home and starve themselves because they didn’t want to add any fat to their bodies. The results for both groups, was a whole lot of wasted time and effort.
For you women out there…YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET BULKY LIFTING WEIGHTS. I’ve beaten this issue to death on here. You aren’t men, you don’t have the same levels of hormones a man has, and you certainly aren’t eating like that bulky guy you’re afraid of looking like. You’re going to build smaller, defined muscles, which will help spike your metabolism and turn you into a fat burning machine.
For you men out there…if you don’t feed your muscles, you aren’t going to build muscle mass. Muscle mass doesn’t form out of thin air. If you aren’t giving your body the fuel it needs to grow new tissue, i.e. muscle, all of those weights you lift will be in vain. Feed yourself, understand you may gain a little body fat with that muscle, but it’ll be no problem to burn it off later on. Further to that point, if you’re eating clean and not loading up on junk, your fat gain should be minimal at worst.
The Only Thing That Won’t Let You Get Fit….Is You
Think about that for a minute. The only thing that won’t let you get fit, is you. That’s both an exciting and scary notion. Exciting in the sense that, you have complete control over your ability to achieve the body and health that you want. Scary, because all along your brain has been fighting you and perhaps subconsciously preventing you from getting fit and achieving your goals. The lack of control can be a downright frightening thing.
Take control of your thoughts, emotions, and expectations and you’ll suddenly be more in control of your destiny. Get fit, live the life you want, and always keep pushing to go longer, stronger, and faster than the time before. Fitness is FAR more of a mental game than it is physical. Learn to view each workout as a challenge against yourself. Each time out, you’re competing against the last time you did that workout. Always strive to do better and continue to evolve into the best human being you can be.