The New Years Resolutions are about to be made.
Number 1 on the list is ‘get in better shape’.
The new year is always a fresh start. It’s a time people set out to right the wrongs from the previous year.
And, in fitness, that ‘wrong’ seems to be made year after year.
Rather than telling you how to achieve your goals in 2016 (which I’ll no doubt do at some point too), I’m going to tell you what to look out for to prevent you from quitting and failing.
1. You cut your calories too low.
‘Low carb’, ‘low fat’, Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Herbalife, Atkins Diet, 5:2 Diet, clenses…
They all have one thing in common:
You’ll be consuming less calories.
The problem with all of these approaches is that they exclude whole food groups. By ‘not being allowed’ to eat something, you’ll crave it. Eventually, you’ll succumb to your cravings and you’ll consider yourself ‘off the wagon’.
The ‘on it —> off it’ mindset is yo-yo dieting. It’s flawed, short-sighted and guarantees failure.
2. You ate too much.
We’ve all got a certain amount of calories we can consume on a daily basis without gaining weight; this is referred to as our ‘maintenance calories’.
If you eat under your maintenance calories for a period of time, you’ll lose weight.
If you consume over your maintenance calories for a period of time, you’ll gain weight.
Quite simple really.
If you’ve been working hard in the gym but haven’t quite noticed the difference in your weight, I’d bet a large sum of cash it’s because you’re eating too much.
3. You didn’t exercise enough.
You can consume above your maintenance calories if you add more exercise to your schedule.
For example, if your maintenance calories are 2000 per day (based on the fact you exercise 3x per week) and you fit in a 4th session that week, you can quite easily add another couple of hundred calories per day to your maintenance number.
It’s a reasonable trade-off: if you want to eat more, you have to exercise more. If you want to exercise less, you have to eat less.
4. You didn’t invest enough money.
If we invest money in our fitness (i.e. by hiring a coach, signing up for a program, buying new trainers/gym gear/supplements/healthy shopping), we expect a return off that investment.
If we invest the cash and don’t try particularly hard, it’s generally because the amount of cash wasn’t great enough of a loss to inspire action.
This is exemplified in the gazillion people who join gyms in January and never go. They’ll leave their membership open ‘just in case’ they decide to go ‘one day’ and they’ll cancel after a few months once they accept defeat.
5. You didn’t invest enough time.
The other form of investment is time.
Many people invest a lot of cash into their training; they’ll buy all the gear, they’ll buy all the supplements and they’ll hire a trainer.
But they won’t invest the time. They’ll cancel, they’ll no-show, they’ll eat take-aways and they’ll drink the weekends away.
In order to achieve success when it comes to your physique, you have to be prepared to invest the time.
Show up to your workouts, spend time preparing food, ensure you’re getting enough sleep and rest.
6. Your expectations were too high.
You started with the best of intentions.
You put in the work, you ate healthily and you cut down on the cakes, chocolate and alcohol, but you quit after 2 weeks because you’d ‘only’ lost 2lbs.
2lbs is great progress, but it’s terrible progress for someone who expects to lose a stone in their first month.
To achieve success you have to be willing to put in the work over a long period of time.
After all, years and perhaps even decades worth of damage cannot be undone in a few short weeks.
6. You got bad advice.
“You think hiring a professional is expensive, just wait until you hire an amateur.”
A professional will cost more pennies, but their advice will be tried and tested. They’ll have achieved success with people in your exact situation many times. You’re paying for their experience.
A newbie trainer/instructor will give you advice, but it’ll be based purely on ‘theory’. This means the margin for error is greater.
Eventually, you’ll get tired of dubious advice and less than stellar coaching/results and you’ll end up heading towards the professional whose prices you once baulked at.
7. You didn’t make it a priority.
“I want to lose weight.”
“I’m going to lose weight.”
Those are two very similar but very different statements.
The first one implies that it’s a wish, a pipe dream; the latter implies determination, resilience and certainty.
Only when you make your health, fitness and weight a priority will you start seeing the results.
8. You let one bad day spiral.
Everyone has ‘bad’ food days.
You, me and every bodybuilder/celebrity you see in the magazines.
We all go off the rails*.
A night out, a holiday, the festive season…
The determining factor in your success is your ‘bounce-back-ability’.
If you wallow in self-pity and comfort eat for another day, another week or another few months, you will – most likely – not lose weight.
If you enjoy your blowout, guilt free, and get straight back on the wagon after it, you’ll be just fine.