It doesn’t matter if you work out to destress, improve your quality of life or just look better naked – having a goal in mind (no matter how trivial it may be) will definitely keep you motivated.
Sure, we all start the year strong and set ambitious goals like lose five kilos, or run a half marathon. But, within a few weeks, you find yourself skipping workouts and giving up before you’ve even gotten into the groove.
Let us face it; almost all of us have started an exercise routine at some time in their life, only to quit after a while. Why don’t we finish what we start?
We asked a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor from Pure Fitness for their best advice on how to avoid falling off the bandwagon when it comes to working out.
When do you see people give up when it comes to exercise?
Melissa: When people don’t see the results they want. Not making progress with their bodies is the most depressing trigger for people falling off the bandwagon, and some of the main reasons include:
- Sticking to the same training program or group classes
- Not increasing the overload (weights being carried)
- Working out in an inefficient way
- Inadequate sleep and rest
- High levels of stress and poor nutrition.
What are the most common pitfalls when it comes to working out and how can these be avoided?
Focusing on your weight instead of your actual body composition.
Our aesthetic goals require us to focus on lean muscle mass and fat mass. Muscle weighs more than fats as it is denser, so if someone wants to look leaner and toned, they should be looking at the composition instead of the number on the scale. For instance, a toned person looks completely different from an overweight individual, but they can both weigh in at 60 kg.
The fix: Engage a trainer to explain your body composition results to you and focus your training on changing that instead; forget about the weight number.
Setting unrealistic fat loss goals.
Sustainable healthy fat loss ranges from 1 to 2 kg per month depending on your metabolism rate, sleep quality, stress levels and nutrition. For example, if a woman gains 25 kg over three years of being sedentary and poor lifestyle habits, it would be unrealistic for her to want to lose that same amount in two months.
The fix: Be realistic and honest with yourself and reflect on your commitment to your goal. Set fixed days to exercise, incorporating aspects of strength training and cardio activities. Give yourself a bare minimum of 6 months of consistent workouts to achieve results.
Expecting to exercise their way out of a poor lifestyle.
The most common mistake occurs when gym-goers expect their bodies to change through exercise alone. Sleep is one of the most important factors in achieving full recovery and resetting of the metabolism rate, followed by the quality of our foods.
The fix: Get enough rest days and deep sleep every night and eat whole foods as much as possible. Ultimately, the combination of these three factors will get you closer and faster to your fitness goal.
What are some practical tips to help people stay focused when it comes to working out regularly? How do you keep your students motivated?
Henry: Surround yourself with people who have the same goals as you. It can be difficult staying motivated and consistent with workouts, but knowing that there is a group or a friend waiting, it provides you with the motivation and accountability needed to help not just you, but both of you succeed! Group fitness is all about doing more than what you could have done on your own, which is why training with a team becomes more motivating than going solo.
Melissa: As a personal trainer, I make sure to set good habits like sleeping for 6-8 hours a day, setting aside time each weekend to prep all my lunches for the week (always include healthy fats and veg!).
It also helps if you engage with other active individuals to draw inspiration from them, whether it’s online or in person.
If you’re having trouble keeping on track with your exercise routine, here are some fool-proof ways to stay disciplined:
- Get accountability. Engage a trainer and work out with friends.
- Schedule it. Set your workout dates in your calendar or book a group class at the gym.
- Have a fun goal. Sign up for a race to do together with your colleagues
- Keep yourself motivated. Take progress photos every week, note your gains whether it’s the amount of weight that you can lift, distance achieved etc.
Being too busy is a common reason for not being consistent when it comes to exercise. How can people fit exercise into their daily schedules? What are some simple but effective types of workouts for them?
Melissa: Exercise covers a broad spectrum including yoga, stretching, deep breathing, movement work etc. Not having time to go to the gym does not equate to no physical activity for the day.
The fix: Take the stairs, walk a little more to get home, do some light core or breathing work at home.
Henry: It’s important to factor in time within daily schedules to exercise, both for physical and mental well-being. You can try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Workouts like Tabata that are results-driven, effective, and efficient and only require a short amount of time. Pure Fitness also offers Virtual Fitness, so if your busy schedule prevents you from attending your favorite scheduled classes, you can do a class workout with virtual on your own terms.
What is the best piece of advice you have for people who have repeatedly given up?
Henry: Don’t go all in and burn yourself out. Focus on creating habits related to your health and fitness goals. If you can set yourself achievable actions and repeat successfully for 4 – 8 weeks, you will start forming great habits that will keep you consistently moving in the right direction.
If you make it past the 12-week mark, it will become part of your lifestyle and the new version of you, congratulations!
Melissa: Find out the reason why you are giving up; is it related to the way you are working out or related to external stressors such as careers or relationships. If you can be consistent at giving up, why not be constant at persevering? ?
What are some things to keep in mind if I’m just getting started on my fitness journey?
Melissa: Remember than success is not linear. Consistency is the key to moving forward, even if it means small steps in making progress.
Here are some things to note if you’re just starting out:
Achieving fat loss requires a combination of workouts. Examples include strength-cardio super sets, circuit training that involves all the basic movement patterns (pull, push, press, rotation, and gait) and flexibility. It is important to keep switching up the training by increasing intensity and exploring moving sideways, backwards etc. The body tends to adapt and will eventually plateau otherwise.
Beginners to strength training should definitely engage a trainer. This will help you achieve proper and safe form from the get go. Injury is a huge hindrance and should be prevented as much as possible.
Don’t underestimate the power of mobility and pre-rehab work. This is key for injury prevention, smooth working of the joints and overall movement.