Are you Failing at Fitness?

I did a little informal poll on facebook the other day.  I asked people:

“What is your biggest challenge in getting fit? (besides time)?”

The answers were telling.  I grouped like-minded answers together, repeating the answers as often as I got them.  here is what we have keeping us from getting fit:

TIME & MOTIVATION ISSUES: motivation and procrastination / too busy doing Ice Bucket challenges / making a conscientious effort / Time / I need a workout buddy / Support from the spouse to help find time

-Answer:  Finding the support you need and advance scheduling.  If taking care of your health is left to the last minute, the last thing you treat as important in a day, you won’t do it.  This is part of the reason most fitness experts will suggest working out first thing in the morning.  Finding the help with kids, work, obligations – it is only going to work if you DECIDE to make it work.  What can you cut from your day?  Can you hire help?  There are always solutions to the problems of time and motivation.  What are they for you?

MAINTENANCE PROBLEM: staying fit is the challenge

-Answer: Do you hit a “get in shape” plan hard with  little thought as to what comes after you hit your goal?  Do you gain some ground and then just quit?  You might consider taking on a little easier workout and fitness routine.  It might be counter-intuitive, wouldn’t you want to get the most results in the shortest length of time?  Well sure, but not if you then quit and gain it all back!  Next time, go slightly less aggressive on the workouts, slightly less extreme with the dieting.  Create a plan that is sustainable for the long term and you’ll be less likely to jump ship later.

HORMONES or SUGAR?: The fact that my body is incredibly stubborn and doesn’t show progress, even though I am stronger. 1 year working out 3-4 times a week including 6 months with a personal trainer, diet tweaked, less alcohol, literally no change visually. Gets a bit discouraging.

-Answer:  I can speak to this problem personally.  I spent years working REALLY hard and feeling like I was getting nowhere.  It turned out to be two things that were sabotaging me:  Hormones & Sugar.  I’ll talk about sugar below, because the hormone issue is a big one!  For me it was low-thyroid or “hypo-thyroidism“.  Its not easy to find a doctor that knows how to deal with hormonal issues at all.  You have to be a very self-advocating patient to get your needs met.  But once you get this part of the puzzle figured out (if this IS your issue) the rest will fall into place and you won’t feel like you are just spinning your wheels with your fitness.

PLANNING or NEED MORE NUTRITIOUS CHOICES? Poor planning / Hunger / The problem is I get so hungry that I lose my motivation to eat healthy and stuff a sandwich in my face! I have to be super prepared with healthy food ready to go when I need it.

-Answer: Lack of planning can definitely derail your best food intentions.  So can under eating or eating non-nutritious foods.  I could write a novel on this topic!  Bottom line is having nutritious food available, planning for snacks between meals and not skipping meals will do the most to aid in your success.  If your body isn’t getting what it needs, than darn right its going to scream bloody-murder until you give it something satisfying. And that is usually something not so good for you. Making sure you get all your nutrients and that you are never running on empty will help mitigate a lot of cravings and splurges.

PHYSICAL: Pregnancy / Current health situation / Injuries & Pain / Aging: Gravity

-Answer:  We definitely are limited by our health, but don’t let it be an excuse!  Most people can do something to help themselves out.  Work with your doctor to see what you CAN do, vs. just being concerned about what you CAN’T do.  By the way, aging and hormonal issue can go hand-in-hand.  Be sure to get checked out!

EXCUSES: Money to join a gym!

-Answer: Money and a Gym, you don’t need either of those to get fit.  Just like “time” these are just an excuse.  Now I know they seem very, very real, but I promise you, if you decide you want to do something you WILL figure out a way to get it done. 

SUGAR ADDICTION:  Cupcakes / Sugar / Sugar / Sugar / Sugar

-Answer: This may be partially due to lack of planning as noted in the section on that. Or maybe you started the day with sugar, so you end the day with sugar, your blood sugar spiking and crashing repeatedly through the day.  Paying attention to the sugar in your diet is crucial to success.  In fact if all you took away from this blog post is to cut your sugar WAY back and you did it, I would be thrilled!  The more sugar you eat, the more you will crave, its a vicious cycle that effects your nutrition, your mood, hormones, motivation and weight gain.  Where to start?  Look at your food labels, consider how much fruit, juice and sweet beverages you drink.  Ideally you would keep your sugar consumption under 50 grams a day (or about what is in one soda), but hey, why not shoot for an even 100g to start off?  Get used to it.

SPLURGES & PARTY MODE:  Avoiding burritos / diet / Food is delicious / Lobster and butter / Beer / beer / happy hour

-Answer: Oh, this is a BIG one for so many people!  Friday rolls around and the work week is over. It is time to party!!! You tried to be good all week, but now is your time, its time to relax and that means fatty food and sugary drinks Friday, Saturday & Sunday (and maybe a few lunches, dinners or drinks during the week too).  I understand splurging…its human nature to celebrate with friends.  So how do we manage it?  Apart from looking at your sugar intake (see point above) you only want to splurge about 10-20 % of the time.  So you can splurge once a week in a big way, or once a day in a very small way.  But you can’t splurge 3-4 days a week and think you won’t get fat. 

MENTAL BLOCKS:  Discouragement / Fear of failing / Stress Eating

-Answer: Wow can we sure hold ourselves back!  It amazingly common for peoples’ success to be limited by nobody but themselves.  Take control of your stress, take control of your fear, ask for help if you don’t know how.  Take baby steps to get where you need to go if you must, but you have to start.  Discouragement is a normal part of life, we have to find trick and tools for not letting it stop us!

dThe one thing all these points have in common? Deciding.

Deciding to find the time & motivation.  Deciding to not quit.  Deciding to take control of your hormones. Deciding to plan for eating healthier.  Deciding to not let physical limits stop you.  Deciding you are out of excuses.  Deciding to eat less sugar.  Deciding to splurge less.  Deciding to push past your fears.

A friend of mine posted a comment that I think hits the nail on the head and is a great wrap up for this post:

“For me it was the inability to realize that I was worth it… The discouragement of thinking that I was too deep to dig myself out of this hole… A hole where its ok to believe that everything is fine and I’m in control. In control by letting everything spiral out of control.”
- Carlos

We can beat the fat.  We just have to think its worth it.  That we’re worth it. If you don’t know how to get started, ask me or ask someone else for help, but please ASK.

Love to hear your thoughts!