By Gina Aliotti
The years are passing, and you’re wondering why you’ve yet to reach your fitness goals. You’re constantly trying new things in hopes that this one will be “it,” only to find yourself back at square one, often further behind than when you started. So here’s my list of 12 common reasons for fitness-program failure and some steps you can take to turn them around.
1) Lack of consistency. Not being consistent with your workouts and/or nutritional choices may be the biggest reason for your lack of results. I love this quote from Robert Collier: “Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” It couldn’t be truer. Success comes from small efforts done consistently, rather than big efforts done once in a while. If you are only exercising a few times a week or following your nutritional plan 50 percent of the time, that isn’t going to cut it. You are better off being 90 percent on your program seven days a week than 100 percent for a day and 20 percent for a few days and then repeating that cycle. If you want it badly enough, you will need to be consistent with your workouts and nutrition!
2) You’re not as strict as you think. You may be following your diet pretty closely but adding a little of this or a little of that here and there. Remember that everything adds up. You start off your day with a cup of coffee and habitually eyeball 2 tablespoons of cream. That could easily contribute 50 calories and 5 grams of fat. For your snack, you grab a handful of almonds because almonds are on your plan. Rather than count or weigh them, you just take what you think is a serving, which is actuality 2 servings—an additional 150 calories and more than 10 grams of fat! For lunch you have your lean protein and ask for olive oil and vinegar on the side. You eyeball your allotted vinegar and tablespoon of olive oil on the salad, and again you’re heavy on your pour, doubling your oil, adding an additional 14 grams of fat and 120 calories. You do great at your next meal, having your scoop of protein, but then dinner rolls around and you again eyeball your lean protein and brown rice, adding an extra 150 calories. Before bedtime you have a sweet tooth and go for a handful of healthy unsweetened carob chips, an additional 100 calories and 4 grams of fat. A day of those unconscious additions to your plan can easily bring an extra 500-600 calories and 35 grams of fat! If you do it every day, that’s 3,500 calories a week, the equivalent of 1 pound! Though you may be working out harder or more often, you can see how your nutritional choices may be canceling out the calories you are burning and keeping you at a standstill.
Reaching your goals is going to take mindfulness and being aware of all your choices. A little bit of this or that, even if it is healthy, can end up hurting your progress. Be aware of everything you put in your mouth!
3) Lack of variety. Your body is smarter than you think! It gets use to doing the same movements and will adapt quickly. The problem is, people tend to get stuck repeating the same things over and over, and that may be what’s holding you back. Constantly changing up your workout will keep your body guessing and, therefore, responding. I suggest varying your rep ranges, exercises, hand positioning, machines (or lack of) and intensity. One day you may do more isolated workouts, while another day it’s a circuit-style routine with no weight at all. Vary not only the type of workouts but your environment. Go from the gym to the track or even hit up a yoga class or the pool! Changing up your workouts not only keeps your body responding, but it also keeps your mind in the game and motivated to try new things.
4) Reliance on the scale. Say bye-bye to the scale, and stop letting it determine your mood or measure your success. Becoming frustrated by the numbers on the scale can cause unnecessary stress, triggering increased cortisol, which is called the “stress hormone” because the body excretes it in excess during physical or physiological stress. Cortisol has been shown to cause an increase in abdominal fat and also an increase in appetite. So you can see how a simple step onto the scale can lead to a domino effect that hurts your weight-loss efforts!
The scale is not a true indication of your progress! Just because it’s not moving, doesn’t mean you’re not losing. Measure your progress by how your clothes fit, how you look, and, most of all, how you feel. Use your eyes and instincts to learn your body, and listen to the signs it gives you. If you are following your plan and being consistent with your efforts, I promise you, all of your hard work is paying off.
5) Too much cardio and not enough weightlifting. It is common to think that lifting weights will add unnecessary bulk and cardio will help trim you down, but the opposite is true. Weight training will not only help shape your body and give you beautiful curves but also add nice lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism and, therefore, the faster you will lose body fat. Cardio is an essential component but not the only one. Doing endless amounts of cardio can potentially break down muscle tissue, causing a decrease in metabolism and slowing fat loss. Focus on your weight training and diet, and use cardio as a secondary source of exercise. To make the most out of your time, try a circuit-training routine that combines weights and cardio in one fat-blasting workout.
6) Wrong mind-set. This is a huge variable that many people forget. You have to have the right mind-set when you start a weight-loss program. You have to believe in yourself 100 percent and trust the process. People are so quick to want results within a few days of effort, but that is not reality. When they don’t see results, they give up and lose the fire to keep pushing forward. It takes time and patience and keeping a positive mind-set. If you lose that, your results will slow and eventually stop coming. If you are putting in the efforts and being consistent, you will get results.
7) Lack of accountability and support. Do you have a tribe that supports you? Reaching your goals and keeping your fire lit means surrounding yourself with people who are likeminded and believe in you! They will help push you or pick you up when you fall and will make all the difference in helping you reach your goals. When you have the accountability and support, anything is possible. We all have struggles and need the extra TLC from others to keep digging deeper. Knowing you are not alone is a huge part of what will keep you going—whether you are a beginner or have been on your journey for some time.
8) Too much exercise. People think that you have to go crazy in the gym to reach your goals, but, in fact, doing too much can be holding you back. Your body needs rest, as does your mind. Doing less can be much more beneficial than going to extremes and risking that you’ll fall off the plan.
Focus on quality over quantity and having a less-is-more approach No matter what you’re doing, that’s sound advice. If you lift weights, focus less on how much you are lifting and more on the quality of your lift. For cardio, focus on the quality vs. the amount you do. We have been told that no pain = no gain and that more is always better. What if I told you that less is actually better and will yield better results? That has been my mantra, and my years of no gym training and focusing on quality (over quantity) with each and every workout have proven that it works. If all you have is 10 minutes to work out, make it the best 10 minutes of the day and give every ounce of you. That mind-set will deliver results.
9) You’re not having fun! If you aren’t having fun, it isn’t worth doing. If your workouts aren’t fun, if your diet isn’t fun, you will get burned out. You have to keep your workouts fun so you’ll be excited to show up and give your all. When something stops being fun, you know you need to change it up and try something new. I am a firm believer in monthly challenges because they’re fun and reignite your fire when it starts to fade. Come up with fun ways to challenge yourself and keep your goals fresh and exciting.
10) Be Realistic. This is a big one. Your life, your situation, your goals change, and so do your efforts. What may have been realistic at one time may not be anymore. Stop trying to make a square fit into a circular hole. There was a time when I could go to the gym and do double days. I didn’t have a family, and I was competing. That was my focus. Once I had kids and my goals changed, so did my training. Rather than trying to fight where you are in life, adjust and be flexible. You can still reach your goals.
Take a step back and be honest with yourself about the time you do or don’t have and the methods you are using, and you may see the need for some changes. No matter where I have been in my journey, being realistic and flexible has been the key. Today that means short-yet-effective home workouts. Almost six years later with only home workouts, I am proof that as long as you are consistent and realistic, you can achieve the same goals, just in a different way. So have a heart to heart with yourself and make sure your efforts are realistic and sustainable for your situation.
11) False comparisons. People get caught in comparing themselves to others. That only stunts your growth, and it may be the sole reason that you have yet to reach your fitness goals. Social media make it so easy to be constantly comparing yourself to others, but, sadly, it’s a waste of time and energy. Even if the photos you see are unfiltered, you are still comparing yourself to someone who is not you and has a completely different journey. It should be you vs. you; so look in the mirror and let that be your only competition. Your one and only goal should be to be a better version of you today than you were yesterday.
12) Need to cut sugar, stay Devoted. The main reason people fall off-track with their weight-loss goals is that they are addicted to sugar. You can stay strong for a short amount of time, but then those cravings come on strong and you give in and dig into that pint of ice cream. That is where Devotion Nutrition comes in. After years in the fitness industry, my partner, Dana Kaye, and I realized that there was a need for products that would help people stay on-track, fight off sweet cravings and never feel deprived because they, literally, could have their cake and eat it too. It took us two years in R&D to find the solution. With our high-quality Devotion Nutrition protein that bakes, blends into ice cream, makes incredible creamer and pudding and so much more—plus our Flex Flavors, which are flavored stevia—dieting has never been so easy. We are helping hundreds of thousands of people cut sugar, lose weight and get in the best shape of their lives while eating Crème Brulee Ice Cream and Brownie Batter Donuts and drinking Coconut Biscotti Lattes. All of our products contain zero sugar yet add the flavor you love and crave. When you find solutions to your biggest obstacles, like the need to eliminate sugar, the results are yours for the taking!
Gina Aliotti is a renowned fitness and lifestyle expert whose mission is to inspire and teach others how to maintain a healthy lifestyle in a realistic way. A native Californian, she received a B.S. in foods and nutrition from San Diego State University and was a top figure star, earning her IFBB pro card in 2005. Aliotti won many titles, including Ms. Figure International at the Arnold Sports Festival, and runner-up at the Figure Olympia three years in a row. Now a full-time working mom, Aliotti is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified CrossFit Instructor, Certified Yoga Instructor, Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, and a marathon runner. Find information on her personal coaching programs and online fitness plans at www.GinaAliotti.com. Aliotti is also the co-founder, with Dana Kaye, of Devotion Nutrition, offering high-quality products that cut sugar while adding flavor to clean foods (www.devotionnutrition.com). She lives in Carlsbad with her husband and two children.