Most of us have a goal when it comes to our health whether it's to do with weight loss, fitness, strength, nutrition or consistency and when we have a goal in mind, we also have an expectation of what things will be like when we cross the finish line.
No matter what your motivation for getting fit and healthy, it's great if it works for you but it's important to know what you're really in for when you step into the gym. Unrealistic goals can be the death of motivation so here are 5 hard truths about fitness that you may not want to hear but probably should...
1. Long term change doesn't happen in the first 6 months.
Challenges and short term training programs are a great motivation tool and sometimes we need a kickstart to get moving after a holiday or a period of inactivity (we've all been there). It's possible to see physical changes during the first 6 weeks of a fitness program but if you want exercise and healthy eating to become autonomous, it will take longer than 6 months.
Don't get me wrong, short term training programs play an important role in progressing and staying motivated but to ensure long term structure, we need to couple that with a long term plan. Sustainability is key to a healthy lifestyle so if you're signing up to an 8 or 10 week challenge, make sure the habits you implement into your day to day are ones that you can continue to do once the training program has come to an end.
2. There is no one size fits all approach.
And if someone tells you there is, turn and run in the other direction! The real challenge is finding a health and fitness routine that makes you feel good as well as getting the results you want. There's no point looking like Michelle Bridges if you're crying yourself to sleep every night thinking about donuts (Again, we've all been there).
Everyone is different so what works for your gym buddy may not have the same results for you. Trial and error is a sure fire way to find out what works for your body type and lifestyle. Yes it takes time and it can be frustrating but it's the only way to really know.
3. Losing weight might not make you happy.
A skinnier waste or toned legs will not solve all our problems. If only! Reaching a physical goal such as weight loss might give you more confidence but it won't necessarily make you happy. I've seen people lose big amounts of weight but the fear of gaining the weight back makes them lose control around eating and exercise. It's a slippery slope.
Don't get me wrong, a healthy weight is important for organ and joint health particularly as we get older but at the risk of sounding corny, make sure you look at the bigger picture before you peg your overall happiness on looking like Kim Kardashian. Try aligning a weight loss goal with some strength and fitness goals so that your focus doesn't always come back to the scales. Generally if you get stronger and fitter, you will lose body fat as a side effect anyway #winning.
4. Injuries, illness and obstacles are inevitable and that's okay.
Sometimes you get the flu or pull a muscle and it can be a real set back when it happens but just remember that this too shall pass. Take care of your body and allow yourself to rest when you need to. Illness and injury can be our body's way of saying that we are doing too much and we need to slow down so make sure your exercise program includes enough recovery days as well.
Nutrition is something you can control (even though sometimes it feels like it's not) If you can't get to the gym, keep your diet as healthy as possible so it's easier to go back to a normal routine once you've recovered. Sometimes exercise isn't possible but you can choose what you put in your mouth. Period.
5. Sometimes it will feel really bloody hard.
Finding the right exercise and healthy eating program for you isn't easy. Time and motivation don't always come in abundance so when you've got more time, make the most of it and accept that some days (weeks, months!) will be harder than others.
It's also okay to have an "off" day. Nutrition, sleep, hormones, dehydration and stress can all factor into why you feel like you'd rather eat the spiky end of a pineapple than do a burpee. Just do what you can in that moment and remember that no matter what you're doing, you're lapping the person on the couch (another corny moment, soz).
Here's to a happy and healthy you,