We've all been there. Yes, even myself.
You set a health or fitness goal. You start off strong, full of hope and motivation, and a few weeks into it, you start to lose momentum.
Maybe there isn't as much progress as you'd like there to be. Maybe you're feeling burnt out.
More than likely, it's a combination of a few things, but this list is the most common challenges I see when someone sets out to reach a goal. Don't worry, I'm also going to provide some possible solutions!
All or Nothing. More often than not, when setting a goal for yourself, you may want to go all in. This might look something like: "I'm going to cut all sugar out of my diet" or "I'm only going to eat clean" or "I'm going to exercise 7 days/week. No excuses." This starts off strong... for the first few days. After a while, this restriction or this over-commitment starts to turn into burn out. You miss the tablespoon of creamer you enjoyed in your coffee. You want to enjoy some french fries while enjoying lunch with your friends, instead of your bland chicken breast and veggies. You aren't allowing your body time to recover with a 7 day/week workout plan. This isn't a sustainable solution for you. How to fix this: Start small! Change doesn't mean a complete overhaul of your life. It can look like replacing your morning drive thru breakfast run with a coffee and breakfast sandwich made at home. It can be recognizing that you're still allowed to have your favorite foods and make changes. It can be honoring your body with rest days, which is just as important as the work.
Not having a plan. You know what you WANT to do, but you're not specific in how you want to get there. This might look like: a goal of eating regularly throughout the day, but you don't prioritize some sort of meal prep or batch cooking. It might also look like wanting to squat 150 pounds, but not having a training plan to get you there. This is a very common mistake I see, especially in the realm of training. Instagram scroll through workouts or Pinterest posts will only get you so far. If you have specific goals you're working towards, you need a structured training program. How to fix this: Plan ahead. Set SMART goals for the things you are working towards. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. "By September 23rd, I want to be eating meals every 4 hours in order to keep my energy levels up and my body fueled." Having a structured plan in place can change everything.
Not paying attention to your nutrition intake. I'll repeat this until I'm blue in the face. Nutrition is the primary driver of body composition changes. If you are neglecting your intake, you are doing yourself a disservice, but you're especially doing yourself a disservice if you're not prioritizing your protein intake. Exercise is usually around 1-2 hours long which equates to a small portion of your calorie burn throughout your day. Your food consumption, as well as all of the other activity you do throughout your day, matters so much more. I get it-- tracking your food is work, but it's work that is educational and will keep you from spinning your wheels. How to fix this: Track your intake. Aim for 30g of high-quality protein at every meal. Structure your meals around a protein source. For goodness sakes, if you're a woman reading this, please make sure you're eating ENOUGH. 1,200 calories is absolutely NOT enough. Eat carbohydrates. They're a great source of energy, fiber, plus vitamins and minerals.
Not prioritizing resistance training. For some reason, there is still this belief that cardio is necessary for fat loss. In some cases, yes, it can be necessary, but for most, it really isn't. Cardio, and exercise is general, provides so many health benefits. I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you from participating in regular physical activity. Please, find an activity you enjoy and incorporate it into your life. If you're using cardio as your attempt to achieve fat loss and achieve a "toned" or athletic physique, I encourage you to turn your attention elsewhere. This ties back into number 3. Nutrition is the answer, but I've also got another one for you. How to fix this: Focus on resistance training. Nutrition is where fat loss comes from, but resistance training is what shapes your body. If you are pursuing fat loss, resistance training encourages your body to keep your muscle mass around and target fat loss. If you've heard the phrase "if you don't use it, you lose it," this can apply directly to your muscle mass. Women, you won't get bulky, but you know what you will get? Strong AF. Again, cardio is great for overall health benefits, but our body does this awesome thing where it adapts to the stressors we place upon it. In order to keep our bodies from adapting to the stress of cardio, we have to keep doing more of it. Running faster, running longer, etc. If you genuinely enjoy cardio, by all means, do you boo boo, but if you hate it and struggle with sticking to it, I'm offering you another way. Weight lifting can be intimidating, I know, but find a good trainer or coach, and it will change your life.
Jumping from program to program. Alright, this one is loaded, but hear me out. Your friend starts this "awesome" supplement program - a couple shakes a day (around $400/month), half a dozen pills, a morning supplement to replace her coffee addiction, and an unsustainable 900-1,200 calorie diet. She's seen awesome results, but in order to maintain these results, she has to continue to spend $400/month on these shakes and supplements, continue to participate in a liquid diet, and basically ruin her relationship with food since she's eliminated every food that she truly loves. She lost 15 pounds in two weeks though, so who cares right? In order to maintain this progress, she's going to have to continue this. Eventually though, her metabolism is going to adapt, things will get weird. She may start gaining weight or she may start experiencing health problems. Here is where I have to ask: do you want to be skinny or do you want to be healthy? How to fix this: Put. In. The. Work. If you can spend that money on monthly supplements, I promise you can afford an educated coach to provide education, guidance, support, and accountability. Jumping from program to program not only effects your internal health, but it also causes metabolic adaptation. There is a post about this in my Instagram feed which is linked on this newsletter. Metabolic adaptation can have long lasting effects which may result in even more time needed to achieve your goals. I know fast weight loss sounds exciting, but it's not sustainable. Wouldn't you rather learn how to achieve your goals in a way that optimizes your overall health instead of risks it? Also, can we please stop with the glorification of "nutrition" MLM companies being "small businesses" or that they are empowering women (specifically SAHMs) to achieve their dreams? There is nothing empowering about the spread of misinformation in the nutrition world and it truly just makes the job of nutrition professionals so much harder.
I'd also like to point out that relying on motivation alone to get to where you want to be is a weak game plan. Motivation is fleeting and it's rooted in action. There will be days that you don't want to take action. There will be days that you don't want to put in the effort. Do it anyways.
You can't do your 45-min workout? Go on a 15-min walk.
You're burnt out from tracking your food? Take a break, but focus on the foundational habits that tracking has taught you.
Don't focus on perfection. This journey isn't perfect, no matter what your goal is. The good news here is that it doesn't have to be. You just have to be consistent.
Arrow Nutrition and Training, LLC