They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If that’s the metric that we use, then there will be millions of Americans who will embark on a fitness journey this New Year for the 20th time and will insanely go back to their routine habits in a matter of weeks.
Please don’t fault me for pointing this out, when push comes to shove, I am an extreme optimist concerning people’s ability to make lasting change.
The only way that will happen is if our resolute fitness goer does what we have learned to do as experienced coaches to those in need of personal change, which is to remove the limiting factors so success becomes likely over the long haul.
This article will identify the 3 biggest reasons that fitness goers fail to make lasting change and most importantly what to do about it.
Here we go:
Reason #1) They chose the wrong type of nutrition and exercise for their body-type and goals.
In this scenario, we have great intentions but bad information when it comes to designing the program.
If your goal is fat loss and you are still doing long duration cardio, or aren’t performing intense strength training, then I encourage you to reconsider.
Here is a video that outlines why interval style cardio is better for fat loss if you are a bit of a science nut https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrUszOWSjdU&t=79s
Here is a video of Neghar Fonooni deadlifting 210 lbs at 125 lbs of body weight. She strength trained to look like that and she does NOT look like a bulky bodybuilder because she did it correctly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM3Qf0sgUN4
I could get scientifically deeper on this topic, but want to keep this article highly practical. Feel free to post in the comments section if you would like to dive deeper. I would love to hear from you 🙂
Reason #2) your exercise and nutrition protocol never became your “new norm”.
Most people start on something at a pace they can never legitimately sustain. The life transformation begins and within 6 days or 60 days life goes right back to what it originally was.
There is a book called The Power of Less By Leo Babuta where he sites research that if a person adopts one habit at a time, there is an 85% chance they will comply. If they adopt 2 habits, it drops to under 35%, and 3 habits drops to under 10%.
So let’s explore the typical body and life transformation program that most embark upon:
Prior to changing, they are doing very little activity and exercise and are eating at less than 50% capacity of what someone looking for a radical transformation would need to do.
The program now goes something like this:
- Go to the gym 3 days a week and figure out what to do while I am there.
- Go running an additional day every week.
- Get sufficient sleep.
- Eat more veggies.
- Figure out how much protein I need, then adhere to that.
- Prep my food every week.
- Learn new healthy recipes that I’ve never made before.
- Drink half my bodyweight in ounces of water.
- Have strategies in place for when I am traveling or in a time crunch.
- Figure out how many calories I need, then learn to calculate how much I am actually eating.
- Have strategies in place to help me cope with stress which makes my body hold on to unwanted fat.
- Change my workout routine every few weeks so I don’t plateau.
- Go from eating 2-3 times a day to 5 smaller meals
- and so on, and so on…..
No wonder they can’t sustain that level of change for a significant amount of time!!!
What we have done here at Raw Fitness, is attached a coach to every client who oversees their behavior upgrade program, and we focus on one habit at a time until that becomes their new norm.
For example, some clients never eat breakfast, so a good habit for them might be eating breakfast every day, or if that’s too difficult, start with only 3 days a week.
Then we would give some simple food selection and food prep strategies that would help them be successful, particularly if lack of time was one of the original hindrances.
We would also keep them accountable on whether they were consistent and we also have ways of keeping them motivated, but I will touch on those concepts in a little while.
You may think that this is painfully slow, but I can assure you that once you stack a few well selected new habits on top of one another and you gain confidence from all the small victories, the results not only come, they stick!
If you are rolling solo in your new journey, then here are a few habits that you can choose from so you can make incremental, sustainable progress too!
- Eat your food slowly (shoot for 15 minutes per meal and chew really well) Eating quickly is one of the best predictors of obesity believe it or not! Eating slowly will help you to digest your food better, absorb nutrients, and help iron out your hormonal signaling for satiation.
- Stop at 80% full (or if 80% is tough for you to calculate stop when satisfied instead of stuffed).
- Eat 1-2 palm sizes of protein 4-5x/day.
- Shoot for 5 servings of colorful fruits and veggies/day.
- Drink 16 oz of water upon awakening and a cup at each meal and training session.
- Save starchy carbs for breakfast and post workout
- Eat a nutritious breakfast 5 out of 7 days
- Create a great sleep ritual by mastering a relaxation technique and turning off all electronics at least an hour before bed.
These are a good start. Try and master 1 habit for 2 weeks and move on to the next. If you like, you can also map out on a calendar a 3-4 month plan of action and set a reminder in your phone to alert you every morning for whatever habit you are on. I personally like using the “Todoist” app for my own personal recurring daily tasks.
Reason #3) Lack of Accountability/Social Support
- So this is a biggie. There is a boatload of information about the value of having a social support system to get you where you would like to go.
Kids who grow up with both parents are much less likely to end up in jail.
12 Step groups like AA and Alanon have huge followings, and there are churches and religious congregations littered all over this great country where many people are seeing their lives dramatically changed for the better.
I’m always saying that if God wanted me to do life alone, He probably would have put me on a deserted island somewhere.
At Raw Fitness, we have been blessed by great members who encounter and encourage one another. There are no meatheads kissing their biceps in the mirror and taking selfies of their abs in our gym. We want everyone to feel comfortable.
We also tag on an extremely passionate staff to help solidify our social support and accountability.
When I coach nutrition and I have someone on a particular habit, I use our handy dandy nutrition coaching software interface where our members have to check off whether they were able to execute their habit on that particular day.
It is amazing what a person will do on a day when they know their coach cares and is checking on what they are doing.
There are ways that you can incorporate this principle for yourself outside of our environment.
You can find a friend who wants to get fit, or better yet one who already displays the discipline to live the lifestyle you are looking for, and see if you can become their workout partner.
Employ your spouse or kids to keep you accountable on your late night snacking or fast food indulgences. Give them permission to ask about your consistency and to call you out when they see you go awol.
Please also employ our “clean slate policy” whenever you don’t hold to your desired behavior. I am yet to see someone be guilted into results, so make sure you give yourself permission to start fresh after any lapses and try and identify specific strategies to help you stay on track better the next time.
Join a fitness-centric Facebook Group or Forum. There are a ton out there and being able to share successes, failures, and questions with a large group of like-minded individuals can really go a long way.
We have a private group that we monitor for the gym and I love when our members are active on it, especially when they help one another. If you would like to be a part, send us a request. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1681715628768802/