5 SELF-SABOTAGING BARRIERS THAT ARE RUINING YOUR FITNESS GOALS
I want to lose “x”, but I don’t want to look like “her”:
Stop comparing yourself. Do not compare your chapter 1 to someone’s chapter 12, this is going to get you absolutely nowhere fast. This simply a way of cushioning oneself from failure. If you don’t set the bar too high then you won’t struggle because you didn’t “want to get there” anyways. It’s a protective mechanism, a way of easing anxiety and protecting oneself from the fear of failure. It’s a way of protecting oneself because if you didn’t want the maximum results to begin with, then you will be okay with mediocre. I also think the prevalence of social media and the exposure to fitness accounts has created a weird illusion that muscle gain and body fat loss is as easy as one meal plan, and 3-4 days at the gym. When someone tells me their goals but then follows it up with, “but I don’t want to look too muscular”, or “I don’t want to lose my curves”, this tells me that person doesn’t fully understand the physiological process of fat loss and muscle gain, they also are not fully aware of the overall effort and longevity the process is going to take, and they are self-soothing because they can’t “fail” at something if they never wanted it to begin with.
To keep it simple, stop looking so much in the future and stop putting barriers on the end goal when you haven’t even started or are not even close to being there yet. Focus on yourself, and give 100% maximum effort on the plan the trainer has created for you. Don’t give 50% because there is a weird illusion you don’t want to be a certain body type. This is #1 on my list because it has turned into my #1 pet peeve and something I surprisingly hear often. I’m not going to say it is “arrogant” and “disillusioned”, but it is a blanket statement to give 50% effort and already setting a huge barrier on yourself to reach your max potential. To me, this is like saying, “I want to read more books but I don’t want to gain more knowledge”, or “I want to start a business, but I don’t want it to be my main money maker or take up too much of my time”, or a high school student saying, “I want to go to medical school but I don’t want to be a top surgeon because that’s a lot of commitment”, or “I want to start playing hockey, but I don’t want to go to the NHL”. How ridiculous are these statements? But these are no different. People would look at that high school student and say, “well maybe focus on getting into medical school first.” Or the hockey player and say, “how about learning how to skate first”.
It’s undermining the entire process and setting a huge barrier on oneself. Stop doing this. Don’t settle for less before you’ve even started. Focus on yourself, stop looking at everyone else around you. Feeling struggle and feeling failure is not a bad thing, it builds character and builds perseverance. Stop cushioning yourself from feeling “bad”, everything worth having in life isn’t supposed to be all happiness and rainbows. Develop your grit and get going.
I want a better relationship with food and I want to feel better in my body, but I always fail and I never stick to anything:
I feel this is associated often with a “perfectionist” or a “type A” personality. Putting a TON of pressure on oneself and already setting the person up for failure because of an “all or nothing” mentality. I think the focus for this type of person needs to shift from body image to more health and wellness focused in order to see more consistent results. If you didn’t have a good day or a good weekend, this is not a good enough reason to toss in the towel and call it quits. Shifting your mindset to a more holistic point of view, workout because it feels good and because it’s nice committing that time to creating a healthier body. It does not need to be an all or nothing relationship, but consistency does matter. Perseverance and grit is very important is so many aspects in life. Just because someone had a bad day or a bad week at work, doesn’t mean they quit their job. Take the same approach when it comes to diet and the gym, one bad day and/or one bad week should not be enough to quit altogether, abandon ship, and do the complete opposite. This is only a temporary “fuck it” relief, but ultimately, it’s not going to feel good when that dopamine rush wears off and the reality of the decision slowly creeps in. There is a type of euphoria that comes with quitting something but this feeling doesn’t last. It’s a way better and more euphoric feeling to battle through the hardships and develop the perseverance until you find success, vs. the short-term relief of quitting and jumping onto something else. Nothing worth having is smooth, and sometimes hardships last a lot longer than one day or one week, but I encourage you to not give up faith and just battle through the hard and stressful times. I also feel these hard times, I feel stressed, I feel unmotivated, I feel lost, I feel lazy, and I feel disappointed in myself. But I also feel passionate, and I listen to that little voice that inevitably comes through telling me not to give up. If you really truly care about your self-development and your overall goal, it will always come through for you.
I’ve achieved “x” so far, so I can cheat more and do less. I deserve it. I know I can just bounce back:
Oh, baby. If this isn’t the biggest start to a slippery slope then I don’t know what is!! If I hear a client telling me this after they have achieved so much, I quickly try to bring them back into reality. Eating terribly and working out to compensate is going to bite you in the ass. It may not show up right away, but it comes slowly and surely. I think part of the problem is the fact it doesn’t appear right away so it only encourages and promotes this mentality even more. It encourages the person that they can “get away with it”. I think you should celebrate your accomplishments, but also be mentally strong enough to check yourself and snap back into reality. Condition yourself to realize food is not always a reward, food is fuel. The entire mentality of seeing food as the reward and the gym as a chore is something that needs to be changed, and changed quickly. Healthy food and working out should not be seen as a short-term torture mechanism, or thinking “when can I quite this and ride on my results?”. Tap into the FEELING that eating healthy and working out gives you. The improved mental health and improved physiological benefits should be celebrated. If you are miserable at the gym and feel like the entire process is a chore, then I feel results will come as a yo-yo for this person’s entire life.
Weekends don’t count for me, I can eat what I want on the weekends because I am good during the week:
False. I have trained people online and in-person and the results do not come as they should be because they are abandoning ship and doing whatever the hell they want on their weekends. Treating your weekends like a vacation and saying, “fuck it!” is the quickest way to get nowhere and to stop seeing results. It takes around 4-5 days for our gut health to recover if we are eating terribly, and if someone is cheating bad on the weekends then their guts never get a chance to recover before they are back eating terribly all over again. It’s a bad cycle to get in, and the quickest way to a plateau. If you feel you are plateauing in your results, then you need to take a serious look at how you are eating on the weekends. For my online and in-studio clients in particular, they are no longer making strength gains, and their composition results come to a standstill. Weekends do count, and if you are SERIOUS about seeing results then you need to put in the work necessary. Stop making excuses for yourself, and get back into the game. If you are cheating Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only to start fresh Monday, you are technically only eating right 60% of the time. The longer this cycle goes on, and if you treat your body this way week after week after week, then you WILL NOT see any progress. You will plateau, and then go backwards. Being in a plateau is tough mentally, because you are putting in the work for some of the days, only to go backwards the other days. You are in a weird position where your effort is not going to pay off, so eventually people give up and less and less diet and exercise is prioritized. It’s a slippery slope, so make sure your weekends are prioritized if you are really serious about seeing results.
I’m afraid of the gym, people intimidate me and watch me:
I think this is one of those things that people eventually overcome if they put themselves in the situation to overcome the fear. I totally understand the fear, this was me as well at one point in time. I get how scary and intimidating the gym may seem, a lot of this is because it’s the “unknown” that is scary and not necessarily the gym. The gym environment is historically very masculine, and since I have graduated University in 2013, there has been a huge surge in women getting involved in weight lifting and using more equipment that corporate gyms have available. A lot of the fear of the gym will disappear the more you put yourself in the environment, because you will notice just like I did, that people are 1. Not watching you and 2. Are focused on their own workout and trying to get in and out of the gym. I think if you see someone look at you, it comes with innocent intentions 90% of the time. It’s EXTREMELY rare someone is malicious, rude, of judging. A lot of the perceived negativity speaks more about how we feel about ourselves vs. how others are perceiving us. The intimidation and fear of the gym is likely more because it’s a new environment, not 100% confident in your gym routine, not confident the exercises are being performed correctly, and think if someone looks your way it’s because you are doing something wrong. Personally, I have found I’ve gazed in someone’s direction and if they catch me looking I’m like, “shit, I hope they don’t think I was being rude”, because the reality is I’m wondering where they got their outfit from. At the end of the day, the fear of the gym is going to fade the more you put yourself in the environment. You will become more comfortable in the gym, it will become more familiar overtime, and you will notice it’s not a big enough reason to not get after your fitness goals. A lot of the fear is an anxiety that is built up in your head, and it’s not the reality of the situation. Do not let the fear of a new environment stop you. This is similar to getting your license, or starting a new job. At the end of the day, people usually get over the fear because they need to learn to drive, and they need to make money. Eventually it becomes second nature just like anything. So please, have the guts to put yourself out there, be brave, force yourself to go, and I promise the anxiety surrounding the gym is going to fade and you will get over it.