At the end of last year, were you scrambling to make some New Year’s resolutions? Did some of your resolutions include losing weight, exercising, eating right, or trimming down? If your answer is yes, then congratulations—you are a part of the 38% of resolution-makers who made this type of goal. According to statistics, of the 45% of Americans who usually set goals each New Year, losing weight is number one on the list of resolutions. Lamentably, only 8% of people are successful in reaching their goals.
I attend the gym regularly, and I can always tell it is the New Year because the parking lot is completely full, and there is a lineup at the machines and weights. It’s frustrating, but I know it won’t last long. Sure enough, within a few weeks, parking is available, and I can finish my workout without having to wait for the next machine. This happens every year, and I can’t help but ask why. After a little research and a few questions around the gym, I found consistencies among the answers I received from gym management, trainers, and other exercisers.
The following are a few of the most common problems and solutions most people face when starting a fitness goal.
1. High expectations
When people make fitness goals, they don’t visualize them to the finish. People see their physical condition and have an idea of what they want to look like, and go from there, no matter how unrealistic it is. It is all too easy to see the guy at the gym with arms like tree trunks and eight-pack abs and say, “I want to look like that.” But in reality, that simply is not possible with every body type. A solution to this would be to consult with a professional trainer and let the pro help the beginner set a realistic, customized goal that will help the beginner look and feel better.
2. Lack of experience working out
Many newcomers to the gym assume that it is all common sense and that if they just hop on a treadmill or other machine, they are being effective. Not only is this untrue, but it is dangerous thinking. Rather than run the risk of getting injured by misusing the machines, getting some advice would be wise. Hiring a personal trainer is the best option, but the experienced fitness gurus are always willing to give pointers and suggestions, too.
Changing one’s body is a process that takes time and a lot of work. It’s impossible to return to the gym after several years of sedentary life and expect immediate results. This approach leads to disappointment and loss of motivation. In reality, body shaping takes weeks and months for noticeable results. One solution for this problem is to create an exercise calendar for at least three months showing exercise routines that will be done over a period of time; this can also be used to record weekly body weight and the progress make with exercises: distance walked/run, amount of weight lifted, and body fat percentage. Thus progress, no matter how small, is observable and will serve as motivation to continue. And small measures of daily and weekly progress add up to big changes in a few months.
4. Lifestyle change
Losing weight and getting fit will require a lifestyle change. Going to the gym is just half of that change, and the other half involves life outside of the gym. A common misconception among gym-goers is that if they work out, they can eat whatever they want. This erroneous way of thinking almost always leads to an increase in weight gain. Having a healthy diet is more important than going to the gym every day. It doesn’t mean starting the kind diet advertised on TV. These “yo-yo” diets are short term—not to mention expensive—and usually result in the weight returning, plus interest. The best diet is something that can be followed for a lifetime. Eating the right foods in the right quantities is key. One need not eliminate all sweets or fried foods, but rather limit how much and how often they are eaten.