So, you’ve decided that you need to get in shape, lose some body-fat and improve your health with a new regime of exercise and healthy eating. Watch out for these common challenges, and plan ahead so you’re ready to conquer them when they rear their ugly heads.
Problem: Doing repetitive, uninspiring exercise means you will be less likely to continue with your quest, and your results will plateau as your body is not being given new challenges.
Solutions: Adding a social aspect to exercise can help to make it more fun,whether that comes from a personal trainer, or from exercising in a group setting. Adding variety to your strength training sessions will ensure your body is challenged to adapt to different activities, which will get you better results and keep you engaged. Instead of mind-numbing cardio like running or cycling, learn a new activity like a martial art or a sport. You’ll work harder when you’re not focussed on the work-rate but are thinking instead about improving skills, beating a sparring partner, or training for a competition.
Problem: You know that you need to exercise and eat well in order to achieve good health, but at 5 am it’s easier to come up with an imaginative excuse to snooze for an extra hour.
Solution: Accountability is key – you might be able to tell yourself that you can’t train because your friend’s sister’s cat is lonely, but I dare you to say this to your trainer or training partners without hanging your head in shame.
Problem: Not knowing what kinds of exercises to do or what to eat in order to achieve your goals.
Solution: Don’t assume that you know everything. Sometimes, ignorance means that you don’t even know that you don’t know. Consult some experts, conduct research and acquire resources which will help you to implement an effective strategy. Professionals whose advice you may want to seek include personal trainers, nutritionists, naturopaths and physiotherapists.
Problem: not exercising or eating well because you’re so busy.
Solution: Routine, time-management and sacrifice are paramount! Nothing is more important than your own health. Without it, you can’t enjoy the wealth you’ve acquired, nor are you in a position to help the people who are important to you. You may not be able to find the time to train twice a day to become a professional athlete, but I absolutely believe that if you value your health enough you can make the time for four or five shorter work-out sessions per week. You may need to re-examine some of your commitments, and learn to say “no” to some activities which are not necessary or don’t help you to achieve your goals. You may need to be more organised, for example saving time by purchasing groceries on a fortnightly rather than weekly basis. Once your eating and exercise program has become a routine, you will find it seems much easier as other people will stop asking you to do things during your exercise or cooking time. Respect yourself enough to establish a routine, and other people will respect your time.
Problem: You go to bed psyched for your run in the morning before work, only to realise when you wake up that it’s cold and raining and staying in bed with your partner or your puppy or kitten is so much nicer. Anyway, it’s winter, no one will notice if you stack on a few pounds…
Solution: At the risk of sounding superficial, go to your local spa or heated pool from time to time. Spending time in your bikini or swimming trunks will keep you focussed on staying in shape like nothing else! The weather in winter can be a genuine problem, so it may pay to organise some activities which you can do indoors, whether it be at home or in a gym. If you find it hard getting out of bed in the cold, keep your bedroom well-heated so you don’t fell like you’ve fallen out of the Titanic when you get out of bed and go groping in the dark for your gym-gear. Or you can do what I used to do when I was training at 5am: sleep in your gym gear so you can just roll out of bed and into the car!
Solution: Ask yourself this: can you afford not to? A lot of people who are reluctant to invest in their health through purchasing good food, gym memberships, personal training sessions, or exercise equipment have no problem spending hundreds of dollars on a night out, or frittering away $20 every day on fast-food or cigarettes. Considering the health benefits of exercise and healthy eating, which include reduced risks of depression, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, your exercise and nutrition are not expenses but investments. It’s far better to invest in health now than to spend on treatment for illness later in life. Like anything else though, there are always ways to save money when it comes to exercise and food. Group classes are often cheaper than personal training, and whole, fresh, seasonal foods are cheaper than processed foods, take-away and restaurant meals.
Problem: you want to look good, be strong and feel healthy. It’s just not enough to get you off the couch tonight.
Solution: While accountability to coaches and training partners can make you feel guilty enough to get up and go to the gym, it won’t necessarily make you feel enthusiastic and hungry to train. For that, you need shorter-term goals. Your long-term goal may be to achieve your ideal weight and to maintain good health for life, but you need something within a three-month time period which will challenge you, but still be achievable. A weigh-in, a photo-shoot, an event such as a wedding or pool-party, a reward like a new suit or dress, or a competition, are all great incentives which will create some energy and anticipation to fuel your work-outs.
What other challenges have you encountered? What strategies have you used to stay on track for success?