Fall is here. It’s an exciting time of year. The leaves will be falling, and the weather will be getting cooler -hopefully. Parents love it because kids are back in school and there is some normalcy back in their schedule. I like it because it is the second biggest season for those getting started on a fitness program.
I felt it fitting with the season to analyze why we fall on our quest to stick with a fitness program. I’ll analyze why our resolutions in January, the biggest season for starting, may not have panned out. A few years back, I listened to Ken Blanchard, the author of a bestseller in the ’80s, “The One Minute Manager,” give a keynote speech on winning and losing. He called it “fall-ure” when we make a misstep or have a set back. Only when we quit trying, is it considered a “failure.” So, to keep your “fall-ure” from turning into a failure, I am going to outline the major mistakes I have seen over the years of why people fall in succeeding with their fitness plans.
Mistake No. 1 — Unable to make a decision and take action. If you have ever watched the racy animated sitcom, “South Park,” you may have seen the episode about the “Underpants Gnomes.” The Underpants Gnomes collect underpants they have stolen from people’s bedrooms. They call this Phase One of a three phase business plan. The third phase is profit but they have no idea what Phase Two represents. Yet, they continually steal and collect underpants. Metaphorically speaking, don’t be an underpants gnome. I see so many people get excited about getting in shape who read, watch, buy, and analyze every program pitched to them, but never take action. They so want to find that perfect diet, perfect workout, and the perfect time to start that they become overwhelmed and fall victim to the paralysis of analysis. Stop collecting underpants. Think ready, fire, aim! Just pick a plan and begin. You can always tweak things and improve as you go through the process of experiencing and learning what works for you. Just take action.
Mistake No. 2 — Starting too aggressively. It’s good to be motivated, but when we change too many things too drastically, we have a hard time sticking to it. Going from couch potato to exercise nut takes a longer transition. That’s why many New Year resolutions are scrapped by February. Try picking only one or two habits to change at a time. When you master those and have sustained the habit for at least two to three weeks, then pick another habit to change. With your exercise program, don’t feel it has to kill you the first few weeks in order to work. You will not be any further ahead than if you had eased into the program. Make gradual progressions in you regimen as your body adapts. You will also be far less likely to relapse or be injured.
Mistake No. 3 — Buying into every new gimmick, fad and infomercial. Marketing is written to get you to buy, not to educate you to what works. Exercise and proper nutrition can be boring and tedious at times, especially when we’re just beginning to break bad habits and develop new healthier ones. It’s easy to be swayed by the “latest, newest thing” that promises things too good to be true. Aside from being ineffective and possibly harmful, by constantly jumping from program to program, you never give anything time to work. Consistency and persistence are your keys to success with a sound fitness program. In a future article I will discuss how our misconceptions and lack of factual knowledge holds us back. For now, just know that the majority of marketing pitches you see or hear regarding exercise and diet is at best exaggerated claims made by cherry picking research findings. At worst they are just total fabrications.
Mistake No. 4 (Probably the biggest hurdle for most) — Trying to shape up without shaping up your diet. You do need to expend more calories through exercise, but you can’t outrun your fork. You’re always going to be fighting a losing battle if you try to succeed at fat loss without any modifications in your diet. I assure you, I can eat more calories in 5 minutes than even Lance Armstrong, with or without performance enhancing drugs, can burn in 30 minutes.
So what’s your reason for falling on the path to accomplishing your fitness goals? Make this fall a time for change, and remember, nobody believes your excuses — except for you.
Perry Buchanan, owner of PT Gym, is certified as Health Fitness Specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He has been in the fitness industry for more than 35 years.