You did it: You got started! You took the first, crucial step toward creating a new, healthful lifestyle by joining a club and finding a plan to get going. Take a quick minute to congratulate yourself; you deserve it. But then, do exactly as I say: stop, breathe, and assess.
Despite our enthusiasm for the initial phase of any new plan, many people will fail to make it past the 30-day mark. I want to save you from this struggle and having to start all over again! Living an active life, full of physical fitness, solid nutrition, and down-time is a work in progress. It requires small steps toward overall behavior change. The ultimate goal should be a lifelong habit, not a short-term update in dress size. Let’s try to prevent common pitfalls by touching on the three ways people unintentionally sabotage their own efforts.
Too Much Too Soon
When people flip the switch, they often dive straight into a new routine with fervor, trying to work out every day, eat super clean, and weigh regularly to see the fruits of their labor. Seems like a good idea, right? Sure, until results aren’t coming as quickly as you’d like, and you are more tired than when you began! (Or heaven forbid, you feel unsuccessful and want to ditch the behavior entirely.) Research shows that aiming for 4-12 workouts in the first month is a far better idea. Think of this like starting to run; you wouldn’t run a marathon on day one. You’d start slow and add distance gradually to make sure your body could handle it. Of course, limiting the number of official workouts you do doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to be more active on the days in between. Every extra step counts. But overall, take it slow.
Same goes for your diet. Completely changing the way you eat and cutting every “bad” food from your diet at once will not end well for most. Not only will you be cranky as you deny yourself, but you may not have energy to work out; or you could feel the task is so great, you give up. Instead, start small, with awareness. Journal your intake, triggers, and biggest areas for improvement. Then, start to substitute and refine your selections over time. Bottom line, please give up on the “all or nothing” mentality for fitness and nutrition. Step into this new way of life slowly and methodically, and prepare for occasional set backs.
Focusing ONLY on Calories
Yes, understanding the calories you are taking in and the calories that are going out is important if you are trying to lose weight. But when you become hyper-focused on those numbers and adjusting them to force the number on the scale, you often ignore how you’re feeling and improving in other ways. Weight loss doesn’t usually happen like on the Biggest Loser; you are in the real world with a job, family, and a million responsibilities. You don’t have the luxury of working out six hours a day, and you certainly don’t have someone analyzing every morsel you consume. A 1-2 lb weight loss each week is to be commended. But a 0 lb weight loss paired with strength gains or your pants feeling a little loser should also be considered a win!
Also, keep in mind the caloric deficit equation isn’t the same for every person. And when the number on the scale isn’t what you want to see, continuing to increase the number of calories you burn and decrease the calories you eat isn’t the only answer. The quality of food you are choosing and the types (and amount) of food you are eating to help fuel your workouts are in play. Or your body might be tired from the continual high-intensity exercise and starting to rebel. Slow and steady ultimately wins the race.
Finally, it’s important to mix things up. If you received a Get Started Plan at the beginning of your fitness journey with Anytime, remember it’s just that, a start! You should not continue the same exact workouts with the same sets, reps, and weights longterm and expect to see different results. There are several ways to keep the body guessing as you continue down your path to a healthier you. Check back in with a fitness professional if you’d like help. At the very least, they can assess the sets, reps, and weights to help you break through plateaus. You might also add a new exercise or order of exercises to your plan, increase the duration of your workout, or keep it the same and increase the intensity. Or try an entirely new workout, which will also help you offset potential for overuse injury. Be sure to tweak your plan from time to time for the best results!