When things go wrong, say for example; we skip a few gym sessions, a cheat night turns into a cheat week or we fall off the wagon all-together, we usually blame anything but ourselves to validate the decision and make ourselves feel better.
I know I do.
"Do I really need to eat that full tub of Ben & Jerry's?
... Of course, I’ve had a stressful week at work, and I deserve this".
As much as this type of thinking is very natural, it’s not going to get us far in pursuit of our goals.
We need to self-evaluate, look at what has gone wrong and build a plan of action, so that if these problems rise up again, we can combat them efficiently and effectively.
Here are the 5 most common reasons (I have found through experience) most people give up on their health and fitness goals.
1. We over complicate
We are all guilty of over complicating things and for most of us this usually only leads to confusion, doubt and - when the hard work sets in - an easy escape route.
With such a vast amount of information so readily available it’s easy to get carried away in our desire for fast progress. However, trying to change too much at one time quickly leads to failure.
In regard to fat/loss, unless you are already a super-lean stud, then all you really need are the basic foundations in order to see results... if you nail them consistently!
Forget the fine details like how many carbs, how many fats, meal timing and insulin sensitivity etc.
Sustain an energy deficit through nutrition and exercise, track calories every day and eat protein with every meal. The rest will fall into place.
If you want to succeed, build momentum with small, simple, consistent ‘wins. Trying to force an over complicated regime is setting yourself up for a repeated loss.
2. We don’t stick to the plan
‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’ - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Although it’s a good place to start, goal setting is not enough if you really want to succeed. Divide your goal into long, medium- and short-term targets then sub divide each target into objectives. Your objectives essentially make up your ‘to-do’ list and should collectively lead you to achieving each target.
In terms of fat-loss this could mean setting a progressive target body-fat percentage or visual achievement every 12, 24 and 52 weeks. To reach each target you must now set objectives, which describe the method of reaching each target. For example, ‘to hit my 12-week bf% target I must; sustain a daily 500kcal calorie deficit, weight train 3x per week and hit 12,000 steps every day’.
Bonus tip: Remember to set review points. Be hard on yourself and work towards a deadline.
3. We lack accountability
Pressure is a valuable tool we can use to drive us on when the going gets tough (insert quote about pressure forming diamonds). Most of us fail because we are only accountable for ourselves and it’s very easy to make excuses when its only yourself who you have to answer to!
For most of us, the thought of telling friends, family and social media our goals could be enough to induce a panic attack. However, this is probably our single best tactic for achieving what could seem the impossible!
Become accountable for your health and fitness goals by tracking metrics in competition tables (calories, steps etc), making a wager with a friend or family member, using Facebook to update your progress and achievements or hiring a personal trainer for a block of sessions.
Man-up and set goals which seem crazy! Then tell EVERYONE!
Prove you can do this!
Also, aim high- you may surprise yourself!
4. When the going gets tough, we make excuses
We have heard it all before - ‘success lies outside your comfort zone’. And yes, it’s true! It’s going to hurt; you are going to have to make sacrifices and you will debate giving up.
What you need to bear in mind is that your brain will be trying every excuse imaginable to get you to quit. After all, your brain likes being lazy and eating everything in sight and it does not like change!
‘You deserve this cheat meal’ ‘
You can start again tomorrow’
‘You’re tired and it’s important to rest, the gym can wait until tomorrow’
Plan ahead. Think of every excuse you could possibly come up with when you fancy a cheat meal or when you can’t be bothered to go to the gym and come up with ways to combat these scenarios. Most of the time just by identifying them beforehand can help you ignore them when the going gets tough!
5. We lack consistency
Consistency is key, especially when it comes to health and fitness. However, for most of us, consistency cannot be achieved going at 1 million miles per hour. Therefore consistent ‘moderation’ is the real ticket!
Tick the essential boxes everyday (calories, balanced diet, training, NEAT) and avoid binges - whether food, alcohol or even over training to edge closer and closer to your goals every single day.
Set yourself a to-do list every day and rate your tasks from 1-5 - 5 being the most urgent and important (include your fitness goals here, such as hitting kcal targets, training and hitting X steps). At the end of the day your goal is to tick of the 5’s. If you do this, you have won the day. 3’s and 4’s is important, but the world will not end if you don’t manage them and to be honest 1’s and 2’s is usually just procrastination!
Consistently hit your 5’s and you will win!