The first and biggest hurdle towards your weight loss success is - you guessed it - your own self. Deep down you know you aren’t your healthiest. You don’t feel great and you really do want to start eating better or exercising more. I think we all instinctively know whether or not we are what’s considered “healthy.” Our inner critic wins out again and again when we imagine ourselves starting a healthy routine.
Starting down the road to weight loss is a vulnerable journey. In this position, many of you may already be struggling with self-worth or body image, so naturally there would be doubt about failure. Failure in this situation, however, only means that you will just be where you are currently, no worse off. Beginning an exercise routine or a mission to eat healthier will never be a bad thing.
It may seem like an insurmountable task, but even if it doesn’t necessarily work out the way you want, you might learn something valuable in the process. Don’t doubt yourself...just take that plunge. You won’t be sorry.
It’s true that sacrifice is often required to see big results. The measure of sacrifice you are willing to take on should be equivalent to the intensity of your goals. If you were striving to be a bodybuilder or an Olympic athlete, your level of sacrifice would be much greater than if you are looking slim down and feel better in your clothes.
For most people wanting to look and feel their best, the level of sacrifice should not be asking too much of you and that’s something you will have to measure for yourself. If you are doing a grapefruit diet, I would say that you may feel these sacrifices are too high (and I would tend to agree with you). If you feel this way, this could be a major clue that whatever plan you are undertaking isn’t right for you.
Will you have to say no to some desserts here and there and give up a few activities so that you can prioritize the gym? Yes.
Will you need to avoid eating food to the extent that you say no to social invitations? No, and if you find yourself doing that, again, it would be healthy to re-evaluate your process. It’s ideal to find a nutrition strategy that works for you.
The gym certainly can feel intimidating if it’s very new to you and you are unfamiliar with the equipment. With the mass amount of “gym fail” videos on the internet, it may be floating around in the back of your mind that you want to avoid doing anything that could lead you to going viral.
If you feel very insecure or unsure, try hiring a trainer to give you a handful of sessions and communicate with them that your goal is to learn how to navigate the gym so you can train on your own. Aside from this, the internet has videos a-plenty that can answer your questions, give you workout ideas or teach you how to use certain equipment. If you’re insecure in a new space, it’s probably because it is unfamiliar to you. A little self-education can go a long way.
You could also try following a workout plan. It helps to walk into the gym with some sense of what your workout for that day is rather than just doing a circuit of machines and finishing on the treadmill. If your gym membership is for the sole purpose of walking on the treadmill, you are wasting your money, my friend. You could be doing a variety of functional movements that give you a lot more for your time. And besides, you can go for a walk outside and make some vitamin D in the process.
My advice on approaching the gym is just to do it. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will feel and the easier it will be to show up time after time.
It sure is! But anything valuable to be gained in this world rarely comes easily.
Those first few workouts will be extremely difficult, but there’s no reason you can’t take it slow to start. If you are following a program, match that program to your needs and your skill level. Don’t print out a complex bodybuilding workout for five days a week if you are just learning the difference between a dumbbell and a kettlebell. There are also many bodyweight-only workouts that take twenty minutes or less and require no equipment. You can be in the comfort of your own home.
Try getting a buddy to work out with. You can keep each other accountable and push each other through hard workouts.
This is definitely a valid concern. There is an ocean of diet and fitness information out there, much of it conflicting. It’s a good idea to avoid diet plans that:
This is the biggest reason I see people avoiding their start. You may get so overwhelmed with options that you end up frozen, unable to take a step forward. And at that point, it’s a self-protective mechanism to default to our known habits.
Have you ever finished a really great workout or gone for a great jog in the woods and felt on top of the world afterwards? Remember thinking that if you could bottle that post-exercise high you would never skip a workout ever again? Why isn’t feeling great enough of a reason to keep us motivated? Why is it so hard to show up to the gym even if we know how much good it did for our bodies and minds? Do we, as humans, just have the worst short-term memories?
I believe the answer can be complicated when you consider the psychology, but it’s also extremely simple. Going after something meaningful is hard. Getting out of your comfort zone is hard. The fear of failure and of the unknown is enough to freeze us in our tracks, but with each step forward the process will become easier.
The other side of this equation takes place after we have been with some sort of nutrition protocol or exercise program for a little while. We may not immediately see the results unfolding and so we begin to doubt again. The insecurity of looming failure arises and again, we self-protect by quitting while we are ahead.
Now I believe that most of the following excuses stem deeper than surface-level and are each the results of either fear of failure or laziness. Sorry to be harsh, but after witnessing how so many different people approach this process, I believe that if you want the results badly enough, you will do whatever it takes to succeed and excuses will not come into play.
This one drives me nuts and is also the most common excuse either for why you won’t initiate action, or what you tell yourself to feel better about giving up. If you don’t have time, that means you either have to create time or give something else up. And like I said before, if you want it badly enough, time will be a minor concern. So, I am going to call 100% bullshit on this excuse.
I’m not insensitive to working parents or those with busy jobs. I’m not saying you have it easy and that you’re whining. What I am saying is that even though you may have to work harder to create your time, you are still capable of that. Add up all the minutes in a day you waste surfing the web, scrolling social media, texting or watching TV. Prioritize your exercise or food preparation above all activities.
Get up earlier if you don’t have a spare moment during the day. Carve out thirty minutes for yourself first thing in the morning before everyone else is awake. Maybe skip your long hair-doing routine or find other areas that you can scrape some time together. If you can’t find a small amount of time to spend on improving your health daily, then perhaps it’s time you re-evaluate your priorities. Even thirty minutes is enough to start the process of great habit-making.
The truth is you don’t really need money to make healthy changes in your life. You don’t have to hire a personal trainer three days a week if you truly can’t afford it. These days there are many options for more affordable group or online programs. You can find a million free workouts online to just get the ball rolling and get more active. The only issue with some of these options is that they are more generic and not designed for you as an individual. However, it’s a great place to start!
You can find remote coaching options that do offer custom programs like from Primal Pillars.
But if you find that you really do need some one-on-one coaching, again, you can probably find a way to make it work in your life if you are truly determined. I have coached people before that are broke students or have low-paying, part-time jobs and yet, they prioritize this pursuit over all other things. They will skip the $5 coffees, cancel Netflix subscriptions and avoid eating out just so they can continue training.
I’m going to call bullshit on this excuse too and I bet that if you were being honest with yourself, you could find a way to make some option work on a budget.
Few people realize that their aches and pains more likely come from too little exercise rather than too much. If you spend 10 hours a day sitting at a desk, your back won’t hurt more from spending time at the gym - it will hurt less.
A lot of what we want to achieve with resistance and functional movement training is counteracting the repetitive movements or positions you use throughout your day. Get yourself moving in new and different planes of motion, using muscles you don’t use all day long, and watch how your aches and pains improve.
Hiring an expert coach in this situation can be extremely valuable, even if it’s only for a shorter period of time. A professional can observe your movements and identify muscular imbalances or weakness, then giving you direction on what exercises to use in order to get yourself a stronger and more well-rounded body. You might think you know what you need to work on, but even if you have experience with exercise science, we rarely see our own weakness because we simply aren’t able to observe ourselves objectively. I, myself, love working with a coach every now and then because I learn something valuable about my own lifting mechanics every time.
Or maybe you are resisting the idea of lifting weights because you remember that time you hurt yourself doing deadlifts. I hear this one so so often and, in my observation, hurting one’s back doing deadlifts is so common because most people either aren’t doing deadlifts correctly or they are doing them way too heavy without the necessary core strength.
If you have hurt your lower back lifting, it is very rarely due to a weak lower back. More likely the issue is with weak abdominals or glutes or an inability to stabilize the spine under load. This doesn’t only apply to deadlifts. Doing shoulder presses with dumbbells can lead to lower back pain if done without engaging your core.
Lifting can cause pain if done poorly, and erase pain if done properly. But don’t let this overwhelm you. If your mind is open and you are into a little self-education, you can learn a lot from short movement videos found online. Just try to be selective about whose advice you are relying on out there since not all coaches and trainers are created equal.
I know that this statement can feel true if you’ve been trying to lose the same 20lbs for years and years. It feels like nothing works and that the problem lies with you. Okay, perhaps you have tried several diets - diets that were popular in the moment - and not seen the results you want. Maybe you had that initial loss of five pounds and thought “hey, this is really going to work,” only to be disappointed when the following week, your weight plateaus and you give up.
My question to you is this: Is trying everything under the sun the answer, or should you maybe be trying one thing and sticking with it for as long as it takes to make changes in your life?
If you tell me you’ve tried every diet, every workout and listened to every article you read about weight loss, all that shows me is that you have bounced around between a lot of methods and not stuck with any of them. The truth is that fad diets initially seem to work because for about two weeks, it gets you really dialed in and aware of your health habits. I’d wager a guess that you were super-conscious of your food choices, exercising more, hydrating more, and in this great mindset to get healthy.
A lot of fad diets lead to your weight loss stalling because they aren’t really teaching you strategies about how to make healthier choices - only telling you what to do in the short term. That’s why I never recommend a specific nutrition plan to any of my athletes. If you want to make change, you need to learn how to use your brain rather than follow a meal plan. Learn the principles of what makes good, holistic nutrition practices so that when the meal plan fails, you still know what to do.
If you can undertake that feat, stick with it for years, and master it in your own life, there’s no way you won’t see the results you want.
I read a really great quote once that I haven’t been able to track down to give credit for that said something like “You aren’t fat because of your genetics, but rather from a family history of unhealthy habits.”
I like that a lot because it speaks to this long history in our culture of people moving less, eating more, and eating more crap food. Looking back over decades of this getting steadily worse, then of course there will be chronic diseases like obesity and Diabetes II that moves along through the family line. Simply looking at the culture of a family, don’t you think we are likely to adopt the same habits that our parents and grandparents had, that led them to become overweight?
Again, I’m not trying to be insensitive to people with hereditary conditions that make it extremely difficult for them to pursue a healthy lifestyle. But more often than not when I hear this excuse, people are throwing up their hands and blaming their defeat on genetics because it all got too hard. If this is an excuse you give yourself, try revisiting the other categories in this section to track down where the real roadblock comes from.
This is usually us not being totally honest with ourselves. To clarify, I don’t think there’s a right way to seek weight loss since different methods work for different people. But if you are following a valid nutrition protocol you trust and it isn’t producing results, ask yourself if you really are doing everything you could be.
Oftentimes, people that believe they are doing everything they can are missing a big aspect of the equation. They might be eating well everyday only to 80% fullness and prioritizing nutrient-dense foods...but they never light their furnace with exercise. Others may exercise five times per week and eat pretty well during the week only to blow their whole calorie deficit by going bananas on the weekend with Chinese food, milkshakes and beer.
Take a harsh look at the big picture of your week. What are your weak points? Where is there room for improvement? Are you supporting your food and exercise regime with healthy fundamentals like proper sleep, hydration, fresh air and stress relief? It’s hard to ask your body to undertake the task of exercising or dieting hard and burning through body fat when you aren’t creating a stable foundation. Losing weight is a physical stressor whereas sleep deprivation and stress are emotional stressors. The body can only handle so much stress before it starts to go into survival mode.
I do believe that we can reach a point of homeostasis where our body is comfortable, functioning at high capacity and resists losing any more body fat. (I see this happen more often with women that men since women’s bodies work so hard to maintain a happy and healthy fertility.) But I often see weight loss stall out at stubborn zones where we sometimes have to work extra hard to push through. These are the times to be extra diligent and stick to your strategies.
To lay the tough love down hard, if you want to start getting healthier and you are determined to see results, stop bullshitting yourself. Ask yourself if you could be doing better, if you are lying to yourself, or if you have even been at this process long enough to be disappointed with minimal results.
Most of us have had a collection of unhealthy habits for a lifetime and so is it too much to ask to give yourself a reasonable amount of time to turn that around? Weight loss is really hard and I promise you that if you can integrate healthy nutrition and exercise habits, you won’t have to work nearly as hard to keep the weight off.