10 Questions to Find Out if Fitness Failure is in Your Future

How is that New Year’s Resolution thing coming along? Ah, that well huh? Don’t feel bad. Chances are, just two months into the annual ‘new me’ transformation movement, many resolutions have all but dissolved. For a variety of reasons around 90% of people fail to achieve their resolutions and goals. I’m reminded of a quote that says ‘Most people don’t run far enough on their first wind to discover they have a second.’ Maybe you’ve failed in your fitness and health goals before or maybe you’ve never really set fitness and/or health goals, either way I want you to be able to safeguard your success and learn some ways you can avoid failing when it comes to your fitness goals.

1. Fuel Properly. What are you putting in the tank? Your body, in many ways, is supposed to be a high performance machine. No matter how much you exercise, if you don’t eat right you won’t see the results you’re looking for. In fact, a failure to properly fuel can negatively impact your attitude, brain, and body. Whether you want to lose weight or tone up, eating a healthy, high nutrient diet is beneficial. Developing healthy eating habits that you can maintain over the long run helps you avoid crash dieting and cutting out entire food groups(which does even more damage). Stay away from GMO’s and all processed foods that contain lots of sugar, fat and who knows what other…crap is allowed in our foods. After beginning with a quality detox/cleanse, focus on consuming better-quality nutrition consisting of vegetables, fruits, and lean meat proteins. I think I may know someone who can help with that detox, ;-). Remember you can’t out-train bad eating habits.

2. 6-Pack Obsession. Do you really think a flat stomach or thick, sexy ab muscles come from situps and crunches? Believe me, it doesn’t come from doing a 50 set crunch program. For the most part, when people are talking about losing weight or even just being fit, the abs are the main point of contention and symbol of success.  Generally, men do routines that are obsessed with big arms and chest, but they also tend to be obsessed with having a 6-pack. I even know women doing hundreds of crunches a day, straining neck and back long-term for tentative, minimal improvement in the appearance of their bodies, period, let alone their abs. Situps and crunches actually bulk those muscles up(spoiler alert). There’s nothing wrong with wanting a good looking midsection. But if you’re spending an hour a day crunching yourself into oblivion, you should literally ‘back out’ of that program. Great looking abs come primarily from what was mentioned previously in tip #1, diet then comes the toning. Once that stubborn belly fat is gone, you may be surprised at what you find underneath. That’s when the better movements like mountain climbers and rotation planks come in handy. Focus on total body movements not ab-specific.

3. Isolation Overload. Is your routine just filled with isolation exercises like machine bicep curls and the seated pec deck? Unfortunately you’re going to get as good results stepping outside and flapping your arms like Big Bird. Maybe you’ll lift off the ground a little and you’ll grow big muscles too! No, not really… A heavy diet of isolation exercises is about as good for your body as eating Pop-tarts all day. A workout should consist primarily of heavy compound movements, especially for beginners and intermediate lifters. Isolation exercises are good for some tweaking but not as hub of your program. When you don’t have time, the last thing you want to do is make a workout that should take 30 minutes take 60.  Compound exercises not only shorten work out time but you stimulate more muscle fibers and also reduce risks of overtraining.

4. No Progression. How long has it been since I’ve changed up my workout?  If you’re not busting your …huevos (or  um..bottoms, for the ladies) to increase in strength, endurance, and flexibility, then you might as well just ‘sweat to the oldies’ with ol’ Richard(Simmons). Progression is the cornerstone of muscle growth. If your routine is becoming a little too routine, without challenging yourself, your physique won’t change. It should get you a little uncomfortable every time. Sad but true, there are hundreds of thousands of so-called gym rats and fit heads across the globe who have been bench pressing the same weight and doing the same reps for the last 10 years. They claim they’re training “to tone up”, but their physiques look like crap. Create a little turmoil within yourself. Measure, remeasure… Test, retest. Create opportunity for you to stay motivated and excited about what is to come and finding out a little bit more about yourself.  If you’re not progressing, you’re getting further away from your goals and closer to fitness failure. It’s ‘work’-ing out not just moving about!

5. Too Much Volume. Are you prepping for a Lee Haney or G.I. Jane body look-a-like contest? Well are you? Yes, it’s a real question. More is not always better. If you think that 30-40 sets per workout will make you look like Mr. Olympia, you are sabotaging yourself. Stop and take a deep dose of reality.  You won’t look like them just by killing yourself in a gym more but you can look your very best. Most natural lifters can make very good gains with 10-12 sets per day, if they are progressing in weight and using heavy compound movements as mentioned earlier. Workouts that last over an hour tend to be catabolic and disastrous. Set realistic goals for yourself, based on you as an individual with real deadlines and responsibilities and not off ‘roided-up cartoonish figures on T.V. and in the magazines. Listen to your body.

6. Program Has No Punch. Can you take it up another level? As mentioned earlier, we can become immune to our fitness program. Much like taking medicine long after the pain is gone, our body can start tuning out our workouts when they don’t have any bite. If your exercise routine lacks intensity, you won’t get the best results. Perform cardio at an intensity where your heart rate increases while you’re still able to talk. To get the most from your strength-training routine, perform three sets and eight to 12 repetitions per exercise. Use enough weight so you’re unable to complete one more repetition on your own, after the last repetition of each set.

7. Sunday Strolling…(Even Monday-Friday).  Does your program consist of walking miles and miles for anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour? And yet you don’t have time to work out? Typically, just regular walking wouldn’t be my best advice to someone looking to burn fat but walking on a 10-15 degree incline on your treadmill or on some hills does work incredibly well for fat loss. Why? Because it creates a bigger oxygen deficit which forces your body to burn off body fat for the instant energy that it needs. Try walk 15-20 minutes on an incline, 5 days a week or even mix in intervals. For example, try walking backwards every 30 seconds to spice up your walk(and shape those legs and butt up). Walking faster or spicing up your walk will keep you from getting bored, cover more distance in less time, and avoid fitness failure.

8. Coming up Cheap on Sleep. Are you getting enough sleep? Sleep may be the #1 factor that will affect how well your training goes. Poor sleep always yields poor workouts. Why? Because a lot of the hormones that help you recover from training and are released via training are restored during sleep. Sleeping enough will allow your body to rest, recover and grow stronger. Sleep suppresses our appetites and raises our metabolism, while allowing our body to rest and recover. Two hormones that play an important role in stimulating and suppressing your appetite are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is produced by your body’s fat cells and is responsible for suppressing hunger. Ghrelin is released by your gut, and stimulates your appetite. Not getting enough sleep lowers the levels of leptin in your blood and heightens the levels of ghrelin. This is what results in an increase of appetite.  That’s why the longer we’re up, the more we eat. The reverse is also true: getting enough sleep decreases hunger and will therefore help you lose weight. I always tell my clients that if they go to bed tonight(before midnight), they can wake up anytime tomorrow and be fresh. Establish quality sleeping routines and you won’t be losing sleep over your health.

9. Keep Believing You Can Do It. Do you still believe in you? To be clear: Simply setting a goal does raise your chances of achieving that goal, significantly. If you don’t believe, however, that you can achieve it, you have already failed yourself and those who may be depending on you. You didn’t get to where you are overnight so it’s pretty safe to say that you won’t get your long-term results overnight either. Be patient and confident in the fact that you are doing the best thing for yourself.  Take pictures of, do video, record audio, write down the things that motivate and inspire you and keep them close. Look at them often. If you keep the things that motivate you around you, how will you then ‘lose motivation?’ Feed your brain good, healthy thoughts on the inside and when the things that threaten show up on the outside, you and your motivation, inspiration, desire, and determination will prove to be a formidable opponent.

10. Strength and Wisdom in Numbers. How can you improve your success rate? Successful people often seek the advice or support of other successful people. Very often, we think that because we have done something a long time or many times we are good at it or that there’s no other way to do things. Sometimes this is true yet other times, this kind of thinking stunts our growth or shortens the life of our success. We don’t have to know everything nor do we have to be afraid to ask questions or for help. Having the support of others increases our chances for success both short and long-term. Someone else’s insight, experience, perspective may be all you need to create, sustain, or even improve the level and the life of our success.

So in conclusion, regardless of where you are with those resolutions or with your fitness and health program, you can still have total success. Take a few moments and ask yourself these questions when you find yourself tripping on the transformation track or you just want to make sure you’re starting in the right direction. Failure doesn’t have to be in your fitness future. Remember that failure is not final, it may just be the eye-opener you need to get refocused and regain control of the one house you will live in the rest of your life on earth, your body. Our first wealth really is our health!

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