Summer is upon us and everyone is trying to showcase their beach body. We probably have an idea of what we want to look like on that beach and inevitably most of us fall short of coming anywhere close to what we envisage!
I can’t help but snigger as I browse the fitness magazines at the supermarket. Promises of:
Get Fit in 7 Days – Get Your Beach Body in a Fortnight – Six Secrets to a Six Pack….
The claims are endless. Here are five common fitness mistakes and some ideas how you can ensure you meet your goals!
Far Too Much, Far Too Soon
Undoubtedly the biggest reason that diet plans, workout routines and resolutions fall flat on their face. Are you one of those people who sign straight up for an expensive gym membership, buy all a variety of supplements that you don’t even understand and invest a heap of cash in fancy brands and accessories – do you have all the gear, but no idea?
Perhaps we are trying to psychologically commit ourselves to the new routine.. we have spent a fortune on all the equipment, signed up for a whole year at the gym and surely our lives will adapt to the change… Or not.
The Key is Sustainability – If we want to really drive a behavior change in our lives and learn to adapt a healthy lifestyle, we need to do this gradually. Even those who manage to stick to diets often pile the weight back on afterwards. The diet was a temporary lifestyle change and they reverted to their old ways after completing it. The weight slowly piles back on…
In order to strip the weight down and build the muscle up, we need to introduce changes slowly. If you change too quickly, you risk burn out and complete loss of motivation.
Forgetting the Priority – Your Diet
Experts debate that anywhere between 60-80% of weight loss / muscle building is down to what you eat. The best gym plans in the world are useless without the right type of diet supporting you. Bodybuilders would struggle to build mass without eating the right balance of protein/carbs/fats regardless of how many bicep curls they repped!
An incorrect diet can also demotivate even the most committed gym-goers. Even those who have their exercise routines nailed can become demotivated at a lack of ‘results’ – and let’s face it, you would feel the same way. It is important to learn to invest as much time into planning your meals as your workouts!
Unfortunately the propaganda that surrounds us makes it easy to form unrealistic expectations. Magazines, Videos, Advertisements, Fitness Channels, etc. all promise to turn fat into muscle with what seems like little effort! Personally, I like to read online forums – a crowd-sourced database of information of what works and doesn’t work for various individuals. These are a great source of ideas for exercises to build into routines – far superior to some of the generic ‘Summer Workout’ booklets in less reputable sources!
Comparing Yourself to Others
Comparing yourself to others is something that almost everyone does instinctively in almost every aspect of their lives. From comparing your car to the neighbors through to how your wife looks compared to your mates! It is only natural that we compare ourselves to others in the gym…
You need to be careful not to compare and copy – if you find a person who looks a bit like what you are aiming for, that doesn’t mean that you should copy their workout routine. Your body is unique and you have to learn how it reacts to different foods and exercises. You can’t simply copy your best friends workout plan and expect to obtain the same results. This will quickly demotivate you and could even lead to you giving up completely!
Being Scared to Eat / Lift
Many of my female friends have never visited the free-weights area in a gym. This is partly because they don’t feel comfortable standing next to grunting men, but also partly because they think that doing weights will make them chunky! I think a lot of them have a picture of a stacked bodybuilder in their head that they want to avoid turning into at all costs – if only it was that easy.
Free weights – especially squats – are absolutely fantastic for any body type.
Men – Don’t be scared to eat. If you are doing intense periods of exercise, then your body needs fuel. You can’t lose weight rapidly and build muscle all at the same time. Remember the section on Too Much Too Quickly?
For me, the most important thing is to make changes that can be sustained. If I feel that I am picking up weight, I don’t stop eating or skipping meals – I start to cut back on the naughty things; usually things that crept into my diet unintentionally. Being the habitual creatures that we are, it becomes very easy to introduce detrimental things into our diet. That routine of a fizzy drink after lunch… the mid-afternoon chocolate bar…. the extra portion of desert.
These are the small things that make a big change over time.