Do you roar into the New Year with the mantra "new year, new me"? Or do you lean into skepticism and avoid resolutions since most are doomed to fail anyway?
No matter where you fall on the spectrum, don't worry - we've got everything you need to know to avoid becoming another statistic of failed resolutions. Read on to learn about the most common mistakes people make when building a fitness routine and what actions you can take to crush those New Year goals.
Mistake 1: Setting goals that are too unrealistic or vague
One common misconception is that you just need to set goals, and the rest will follow. While that’s a great place to start, it requires a little more effort to get the results you want.
A goal that is too specific and tightly planned may falter when reality strikes and life doesn't go as planned. Alternatively, vague goals carry little weight and don’t ensure that action will follow.
Instead, try applying the “reverse engineering” process to your goals. Envision a future self who has already reached and is still crushing their health and fitness goals. That’s right - picture the ‘you’ who’s hitting the training ground day-in and day-out.
Envision a future self who has already reached and is still crushing their health and fitness goals.
What are they doing? How do they stay motivated and consistent? How does this person track their gains and measure progress? These are some questions that you can answer by going through the process. The more detail, the better!
But remember that change takes time and most fitness goals require permanent lifestyle changes if you want to achieve (and maintain!) your results. Focus on one small step or habit change at a time and keep adding new processes that lead you where you want to be.
Mistake 2: Pushing too hard too soon
When starting something new, most people are propelled by a motivational high in the beginning, only to have it fizzle out as time goes on. The same is true for many who decide to “get fit” in the new year – they hit the gym hard and do a complete 180 on their diet from one month to the next. While these changes are positive, too much too soon can become overwhelming and lead to burnout.
To reach your goals, avoid burning the candle at both ends. As any long-time athlete and fitness enthusiast will tell you: consistency beats intensity, especially in the beginning.
too much too soon can become overwhelming and lead to burnout.
To avoid overdoing it at the jump, opt for following a well-structured training and nutrition plan that is tailored to your level and needs. You should also be mindful of other lifestyle factors that directly impact your training, specifically your sleep and stress levels.
Training itself provides the stress that signals the body to adapt, while sleep and relaxation are where your body repairs itself and gets stronger. A good program will introduce change step by step and allow for adequate rest.
As the months go by, you’ll find the changes you’ve made have become second nature and take little to no effort to implement anymore. They’ve become a habit. Here’s where you can reevaluate, adjust, and try taking it up a notch. Maybe add another workout, increase the intensity of your current workouts, or master new recipes in the kitchen. Remember, fitness is a journey and you can always stack on new goals!
Mistake 3: Starting strong, but failing to be consistent
Another classic mistake is starting off strong with daily workouts, only to stop training altogether after a few weeks because “life got in the way.”
Why does this happen? Often, training is viewed as a means to an end and not treated as something that has value in and of itself. Maybe it’s something to get out of the way, check off the list because you “have to” do it. While this mentality may get you through the first few workouts, it's neither sustainable nor enjoyable. So, what can you do about it?
Try doing less. Yes, you read that right, but hear us out. You don’t need to train hard every day. Consistency is the key ingredient. A fitness routine done only two or three times per week can still achieve great results! Schedule it into your calendar and treat it like an appointment at work. No shifting, no replacing - it’s scheduled time for you and your training.
You don’t need to train hard every day.
Once you’ve gotten into the groove of training and sticking to your workouts, you can add on. Tack on an extra training day, try incorporating new exercises, or incorporate new modalities. Mix it up every few weeks to keep your workout exciting and to keep exercise boredom at bay.
Lastly, one surefire way to stick to your training plan is to find someone to be accountable to and train with them. Hello, workout buddy! This can be a friend or partner who shares similar goals or a group of people training at the same time together every week. The more “skin in the game” you have, the stronger foundation you’ll have to succeed.
Mistake 4: Ignoring the nutrition side of things
What you do in the kitchen often carries more weight than what you do (and which weights you move) in the gym. This is another mistake many fitness enthusiasts make and often overlook. When it comes to results, nutrition is king.
One approach is to focus on the hierarchy of nutrition with the five-step pyramid. Let's break it down - calories are the first step in the pyramid. Whatever diet you choose, make sure you’re hitting your calories for your goals. The second step involves macronutrients. Food quality and micronutrients come next, and supplementation is the last and final step in the food pyramid. If you don't have steps 1-4 down pat, you don't need to worry about supplementation.
What you do in the kitchen often carries more weight than what you do in the gym.
Keep in mind: you can do everything right – train consistently, sleep well, and stick to your routine, but if you’re not fueling your body to support your goals, they will remain out of reach. Your diet is the foundation on which your goals take root. It’s a pivotal lifestyle factor that’ll make all the difference on your journey to becoming a fitter, stronger you.
In essence, it’s all about making sustainable lifestyle changes step-by-step. Think of your future self who’s already achieved your goal and how that feels. Shift your focus from short-term gains to long-term success and tackle one small habit at a time. And when it comes to achieving results, remember that consistency is key.
Hungry for more expert insights and advice on how to set yourself up for success? Then tune into This One Life’s Episode #13, “Helping humans perform better,” with Professor Dr. Andy Galpin to learn more.