How many times have you promised yourself you would go to the gym tomorrow? Or maybe you’ve told yourself you’d stop drinking soda. If this sounds like you, then you’ve likely fallen off your fitness program wagon. Don’t worry, though; we’ve all been there. In fact, around 20 percent of a gym’s members are inactive, and even those who are active only come in around once a week.
It’s demotivating to admit you’ve gotten off track, especially if you were committed to a fitness program not too long ago. Luckily, you can always start over again. The first step in getting started again is to notice the telltale signs of when you’re slipping off course.
You Have No Motivation
You know you should go to the gym. After all, getting regular physical activity can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and even some types of cancer, but you’ll come up with any excuse not to go. Some common ones include:
- I don’t have enough time.
- I’m too tired.
- I have other chores to do.
- It’s too cold outside.
- The gym is too crowded.
There are plenty of excuses. Unfortunately, none of them will help you get in shape. While it’s easy to spot lack of motivation, it’s harder to understand why it’s happening. If you’re stuck in a rut, ask yourself why you started a fitness in the first place. Was it because you wanted to impress others? Or was it because you wanted to feel good?
If your answer is the former, it might be the reason why you can’t stick to your program. Relying on external motivation is a recipe for failure. External factors change constantly; you can’t control them, so trying to keep up with them is useless.
Instead, you should follow a fitness program because you want to make yourself feel better. When you’re not accountable to anyone but yourself, it means you control what success and failure look like. Those who focus on their internal motivation tend to make lasting changes over those who only focus on external motivation.
There’s More Junk Food in Your House
Healthy eating habits are paramount to a good fitness program. You can’t have one without the other. While you don’t need to cut off everything, the more you rationalize treats, the more likely you are to have to restart your diet.
There are a lot of reasons people turn back to unhealthy foods:
- Hunger – If you’re hungry, you aren’t making the best food decisions, especially when outside of the house. Never shop when you’re hungry, and always make sure to eat a meal before heading out to run errands. While it might take a little planning, you’ll be much healthier, and you’ll be saving money.
- Stress – If you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to reach for a bag of chips or some cookies. Why? When stressed, you release cortisone, which increases appetite. The elevated levels of cortisol encourage the body to ingest food high in fat, sugar or both. If you are a stress eater, the best thing to do is switch out the food in your house. Replace chips with carrots and cookies with fruit. Better yet, try some meditation or yoga to reduce your stress levels.
- No support – If you live in a household where you’re the only one focused on healthy living, it can be very difficult to avoid junk food. If you can, try to get members of your family on the same page and remove unhealthy food from the house. Of course, they might say no. In that case, ask them to put their food in places you cannot access it, such as their rooms.
You Can’t Remember Your Last Workout
While walking the dog might provide some health benefits, you receive the most when you raise your heart rate. When was the last time you got your heart pumping?
The most common, and inexpensive, form of cardio might be running, but not everyone enjoys hitting the pavement. If you hate running, the good news is you don’t have to force yourself. There are plenty of other options such as swimming or biking.
If you prefer to stay home, you can still get in a good workout. Thanks to YouTube, there are hundreds of fitness videos available. Plus, since they’re all online, you can take your workouts with you and access them from your laptop or iPhone. Of course, that also means you have no excuse not to work out during a business trip or vacation.
There’s No Progress
There’s no way around it. At some point in your fitness program, you’ll plateau. Maybe you can’t shake that last 10 pounds, or maybe you just aren’t seeing the gains you’re expecting. Whatever the case, you’re stuck in place while everyone else seems to be moving forward.
Of course, this isn’t the case. You can’t continue linear progress indefinitely. For example, you can lose three pounds a week more easily at 300 pounds than you can at 150 pounds because there’s more weight to lose when you’re larger. Once you get close to your target weight, progress will slow down to one pound every few weeks. This is completely normal!
The problem starts when you aren’t making any progress or you’ve regressed. Again, this isn’t uncommon, and barring medical reasons, there are several reasons why this might happen:
- You’re not tracking properly. Are you keeping track of all the meals you eat throughout the day? Are you writing down the exact amount of reps and weights you’re using at the gym? Or are you just guessing? Accurate tracking provides you with the raw data you need to see whether your program works or not. If it isn’t working, you can then make adjustments as necessary.
- You’re doing the same workout every day. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable. A good workout strains your muscles and puts them under stress. This, in turn, helps build up your strength and endurance. Eventually the body improves its ability to handle this stress. That’s why fitness experts recommend switching up your workout often.
- You’re not pushing yourself. If you’re working out alone, it’s easy to give up the moment you start struggling. That’s why you should try to work out with another person. He or she can help push you to do one more rep or go another five or ten minutes on the treadmill. A workout buddy will also tell you when to stop if you seem like you’re pushing yourself too much.
You Have No Energy
You should feel energized after a good workout, not exhausted. If your immediate reaction after coming home from the gym is to pass out, something might be wrong. The biggest culprit: sleep. While the general consensus is that you need around 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep, every person is different. Some people need less; some need more. It can be tricky to know if you need more or less sleep. Often the side effects of getting too little or too much sleep can feel the same—you’re sluggish, your mind isn’t clear and so on. Keep track of how many hours of sleep you had every night along with how you felt throughout the day. This is a good way to find the ideal amount. A good night’s sleep is essential to a successful program. The more rested you are, the more likely you are to work out.
If you’re getting enough sleep but still feel exhausted, then you might be pushing yourself too hard. It’s easy to fall into the trap of working out too much. Maybe you think if you work out every day, you’ll see results faster. The opposite is true. If you overexert your body, you’re more likely to injure yourself. And if you hurt your back or tear a muscle, you’ll have to wait a few weeks or months before you can restart your program, at which point any progress you achieved will have disappeared.
It’s important to view your fitness program as a lifestyle change, not just a quick fix. After all, you’ll need to change your eating habits and set aside time to go to the gym or work out at home. While it might be difficult in the beginning, eventually it will simply become part of your life. In order to get to this point, you need to put in the time and effort to create a program you know you will stick to.
How do you know when your fitness program is off track? Tell us in the comments below.
About the Author: LaToya is a freelance writer and fitness enthusiast. She loves how technology has made it even easier for her to squeeze in a workout anywhere and hopes her writing encourages people looking to get healthy.