Welcome to my personal training blog. There is so much information around regarding exercise and diets it's hard to know what is going to work for you. With over 12 years in the industry, I aim to bring my experience and knowledge to this blog so you can learn the best way's to achieve your health and fitness goals.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Why aren't I seeing any results?

Almost all of us who attend a gym want to see changes in our bodies. We want to feel like we are improving our fitness, losing bodyfat, maybe even putting some muscle on. Yet so many of us don't.
The big question is why not?

There are several main reasons why people don't achieve their health and fitness goals. Most of them are very simple to overcome . For most people it is either they aren't actually doing the program regularly enough to get results or the program they are doing needs to be changed. I'd like to discuss common reasons why people don't stick to a regular exercise routine and in the next blog I'll discuss the actual program itself.

Many people tend to sabotage their efforts with these common beliefs.

“I'm too busy”

The first common belief is the I'm too busy belief. People who hold this belief find consistency a big problem as there is always something stopping them getting to the gym. They have very good intentions and will say they really want the results but something is always getting in the way. Usually work is listed as the excuse, business meetings, working late, deadlines etc etc. These types of people will easily find the motivation to get to the gym when they have an easy week but as soon as things get a bit busy, time spent at the gym is the first thing to be sacrificed. Results are never achieved as for every good week of training there is usually several bad weeks. A case of one step forward two steps back.

If you look at people who achieve their health and fitness goals whether that be losing 3 stone of body fat, finishing a marathon or qualifying for the Olympics, one thing they all have in common is they have stuck to their program. No matter what has been happening in the rest of their lives they have managed to find a way to maintain their fitness program.

Why do some people manage to follow their program yet others find it very difficult? Is it because the people who achieve their goals have not much else on in their lives so they have plenty of time to train? Or the people who aren't consistent in their training lead such busy and important lives that it is impossible to find time to train regularly?

Obviously neither of these are true. There are plenty of examples of people who lead extremely busy lives who achieve fantastic results and also of people who have all the time in the world who don't achieve results at all. The biggest difference between people who achieve and people who don't is the priority their exercise program is in their lives. If achieving your goals is a high priority then you will find time to train. A full time doctor finds enough time to train to win an Olympic gold medal, a politician finds an hour a day to exercise, very successful business men and woman find time to train for a marathon, I could go on and on but I think you get my point.

For most people to achieve their goals three to five hours of exercise a week is sufficient. So when I hear that people find this impossible because they are “too busy” I find it hard to understand. There are 168 hours in the week and all you need to do is find 3-5 of them to exercise in. Rarely is this not possible. I know people who work 12 hour days and still find time for exercise. The manage to make the time because achieving their health and fitness goals is extremely important to them.

So if you are constantly finding yourself “too busy” to exercise then you need to assess how important achieving your health and fitness goals are to you. Is it more important than watching that TV show you like at 10pm which stops you from going to bed early making it hard for you to get up in the morning to go to they gym? Is working back late at the office because you are overloaded with work more important than getting to they gym? Is your fear of telling the boss you simply have too much work not worth overcoming for the sake of your health? Is going to the pub with work colleagues for the second time that week more important than going for a run?

It is very easy to come up with excuses why we are too busy to exercise but how many of these excuses are really valid. “ My son fell sick at school and I had to take him to the hospital” is a very valid excuse, “ I was too hung over to go for a run Saturday morning” is definitely not. “I finished work too late to fit in my hour session at the gym” is also not valid. Why couldn't you do 45 minutes or 30 minutes instead. What does it matter if you get home a bit later? I admit it is not ideal to finish work at say eight , go to the gym from 8.30 till 9.30 go home, eat dinner and be in bed by 10.30 but people do it because it is important to them. There is obviously a balance to be had between work, play, family and exercise but surely 3-5 hours a week is not unreasonable for something that adds so much more quality to the other 163 hours a week.

People often put off starting an exercise program till they are not as busy. I don't know about you but I tend to find that life is always busy. How often have you thought to yourself “Great – I've now got five free hours this week and there's nothing I have to do so I'll start my exercise program”? It never happens , we always fill in our time with something. If you don't learn how to fit an exercise program in when your busy how are you ever going to maintain it?

Once you have established how much of a priority your health and fitness goals are start finding ways you can find the time instead of excuses why you can't. You may need to think outside the box a little and challenge some of your habits but there is almost always a way.

“ It wont work for me”

The second reason people tend to not be consistent is they don't actually believe the program will work or don't believe it will work for them. If you don't believe something is going to work why bother?. Why push yourself in the gym if you don't believe it will result in the fat loss you are after?

This belief usually stems from a previous experience(s) with exercise that didn't give you the results you were after. This may be a very valid thought process. To overcome this you need to analyse what you did before and make sure you don't repeat the same mistakes as last time. As the saying goes “ If you do what you've always done you'll get what you've always got”.

Think back to last time you tried an exercise routine and identify what you did well and what you didn't, what you liked and what you didn't. For most people the main reason for not achieving results is they don't do the things they need to do often enough. They didn't follow a healthy eating plan and didn't exercise enough. By making sure you incorporate exercise you like doing you increase your chances of sticking to the program. If you don't like certain exercises see if there is an alternative, there almost always is. The best form of exercise for you is one that you actually do. I could tell you that running is the best thing for fat loss ( not saying it is – see next blog) but if you don't run because you don't like to then running certainly isn't the best exercise for you.

The first step is make sure you know what you should be doing in terms of exercise and nutrition. I'll discuss more on this in a coming blog. Once you know what you should be doing the next step is to make sure you do it.

Once you have your program you need to stick to it. Reminding yourself on a daily basis of what you have to do that day and why is a great way to stay motivated. A great saying that inspires me is “ If you want what you've never had then you need to do what you've never done”. This is very applicable for the people who have the “It wont work for me” belief. If it didn't work last time then you need to do something different this time.

“I can't follow this diet and exercise routine forever”

People who have this limiting belief usually have some very big goal they want to achieve, so big in fact that it is hard believe they will ever get there. Many people in this category will get halfway towards their goal, be pleased with their efforts so far ( as they should be) but start to get complacent and forget the original goal. Following their strict diet and exercise routine becomes more difficult and they start to get a bit lazy, missing the occasional workout, eating the wrong foods ever now and then. They feel they deserve it, they've lost 1 stone already, that's pretty good isn't it? Before they know it not only are they not losing any weight any more they've actually started to put it back on.

The main mistake here is thinking of their diet and exercise routine as a short term activity. One that is designed to get the weight off and once they have got it off they can resume their “normal” life. A healthy diet and exercise program is never a short term thing it is a lifestyle. Only by adopting it as a lifestyle can one maintain a fit and healthy body.

If you want to look and feel fit and healthy long term then you need to live an healthy lifestyle. If you want to look good for a few weeks and don't care if you go to pot after that then a crash diet and exercise program will do that. The problem is the more crash diets you go on the harder it is to lose the weight again. Crash dieting lowers the metabolism making it harder to lose fat.

The thought of changing your lifestyle from whatever it is now to one that is healthy may be a big step. For most people the way to approach such a big change is one small step at a time. Make small but permanent changes and over time you will find you lifestyle has changed and you don't miss the old one. For example get into the habit of drinking 1.5 litres of water a day and eliminate all soft drinks ( including diet ones). After a month of focusing on this make sure you have a healthy breakfast 6 days out of 7. Next month look at making lunch from home not buying junk at the cafe. It might take a year to end up with a healthy diet and regular exercise plan but at least you've made permanent changes not temporary ones.

“I've lost motivation, I'll get back to it next week”

You start your new exercise program all fired up to finally lose that spare tire. About a month in, your initial enthusiasm wanes and before you know it your missing sessions left right and centre. This is often because you are not getting results or have reached a plateau. It is hard to remain motivated if you were initially motivated by results and now you are not getting any.

The first solution here is to change your program. If you stick to the same routine you will eventually hit a plateau. Your body has adapted to the new routine and no longer needs to change to cope with it.

The second solution is to change your mind set. Instead of thinking about the destination consider the journey as even more important. Don't be like a mountain climber whose sole focus is on reaching the top. Make sure you enjoy the views along the way.

You need to enjoy the steps necessary to achieve the results you are after. If you don't enjoy the changes in exercise and dietary habits then as soon as you reach your goal you will go back to your old ways and put all your weight back on.
Enjoy the feeling of having more energy every day, of feeling stronger, fitter, feeling healthier, notice how much more you can achieve each day. Even if your weight plateaus for a while there is so much more to health and fitness than weight alone. Make your goal to live a healthy lifestyle and the results will come. If you focus too much on just the end result then the journey becomes like catching a ryan air flight to a holiday – you cant wait till it's over.

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