It is so easy to blame outside influences for our own personal shortcomings, but sometimes the easy way of looking at things isn't going to cut it. When it comes to fitness and health, more often than not the biggest hurdles people need to get over are within themselves. The following are, in my opinion, the four most damning internal influences setting you up to fail:
Oh, stress, how I loathe thee. Whether you have an intense office job crunching numbers and making spreadsheets, are on your feet 14 hours a day busting your butt to make ends meet, or are a parent who spends the majority of their day entertaining little self-entitled dictators (it was a LONG day in the DeVita household today), stress is present. It is in your mind and your body and that bastard can quickly talk you out of a workout. Unfortunately, the majority of us aren't the type who can wait on gratification to come after a workout and opt for the ice cream now to release the endorphins. The only way to get yourself used to delayed gratification when it comes to working out is to start working out. It really is one of those little evils in life.
Try to do something that is physically active, brings you joy, and doesn't necessarily make you feel like you're working out. Go on a walk, climb some stairs, do a plank with your baby underneath you, play freeze tag (this is a really fun one to play at an adult party), volleyball, join your work's softball team, etc. Once you get your body used to a little bit of exercise, it will naturally crave more. Evolution and nature are funny that way.
2. Unrealistic Expectations
The Biggest Loser and other weight loss shows that promote an idea of massive weight loss in a relatively short amount of time are tricking the rest of us into thinking that we can lose an obscene amount of weight or gain a six pack in a relatively short amount of time. Facebook, Pinterest, and television commercials are littered with bogus claims of things that will make you slim in 10 days, or 30 days to a flat tummy. You've seen them. You've pinned them. You've strongly considered purchasing the Shake Weight and Ab Roller.
To beat the unrealistic expectation setter within, you must look at your current physical makeup and think about what you want to be. Train for function, not aesthetics (more on this in another post) and eventually the two will become one. Talk to health professionals in your community and at your doctor's office, they will be able to give you guidelines to help bring your expectations back down to Earth.
3. Negative Self-Talk/Comparing Yourself to Others
I love my clients. They keep me entertained and are a huge reason I do what I do, but I have to remind them every session that we aren't the same person living the same life. Unless a person has a lot of time outside of their work/school/what-have-you to train hard and not eat a lot, odds are, you aren't going to look like a fitness trainer. I remind my clients that part of my job as a trainer is to stay on top of my fitness level. My body is a business card.
Comparing ourselves to men and women on the covers of magazines and catalogs. We all know Photoshop exists and is used to make us all hate ourselves, but man, it sure is hard to not see these perfect bodies plastered all over the world and not want to look like that. I am super guilty of this and need to daily remind myself that as long as I'm holding on to a dream of looking like someone else who was digitally created, I will never be enough.
Comparing ourselves to people in our social circles or office-- we don't know their life story. Maybe they have amazing genetics, maybe they don't have kids and can go on 20 mile runs every weekend, maybe they have health issues that cause them to look the way they do. We just don't know other people's situations so try to stop yourself from comparing you or your body to them and theirs.
4. Over Training
It is difficult to not work out every day if you have a big event coming up that you want to look your best for, however your body needs rest. The proper rest and recovery allows your muscles to adjust to the new demands being placed on them. Guidelines suggest working out 4-5 days a week while maintaining 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on all 7. That being said, your cardio on 'rest days' can be a walk, just do something to get the heart rate up above resting for 60 minutes.
I am a fan of the 3 on 1 off mentality. Work out 3 days in a row, then take 1 day off. Switch up your routine so you don't work the exact same muscles each day and you'll see results last longer than if you train every. single. day. The rest days are hard at first, trust me, I know, but soon enough, you'll learn to love them!