Every year, come the first week of January, the gyms are heaving with fresh meat. Every treadmill has a line of people behind it and you have to wait ten minutes to get on any given piece of resistance training equipment. Personal Trainers are running around like headless chickens trying to scrounge dumbbells for their fifteen new clients that they’re suddenly seeing every single day. Then, come March, the gym is completely back to normal.
What happens between January and March? Simple, people quit. The real question is, why do they quit, and how can you stop it happening to you?
Reason 1: They have no goals
Let’s be very clear here, ‘getting fit’ is not a goal. ‘Getting fit enough to run a mile’ is a goal, as is ‘getting fit enough to walk to the corner and back.’ It doesn’t actually matter what the goal is, whether it’s competition, or just not gasping for air when you walk up the stairs to your home. The point is you need to set a measurable, achievable goal (or several), otherwise you’ll lose track, lose interest and you’ll be another January gym-goer who never makes it past month one.
Reason 2: They have no plan
Once you have your goal, you need a plan to get after it. Again, this doesn’t have to be complicated. Even if it’s just doing an extra quarter of a mile on the treadmill every day until you hit your target distance. If you keep going into the gym and just doing ‘stuff’ that seems vaguely appropriate, you won’t get any nearer to your goal, certainly not with any speed anyway. So set yourself a routine, or have a trainer make one for you, then hold yourself accountable to it.
Reason 3: They have no support
If you’re on your own, your chances of success are limited. That’s why groups like Weightwatchers are so popular; because isolated people often fail. You don’t have to join a set group (though it’s certainly one idea), but involve your family, friends, children, neighbours, colleagues etc in your decision to make changes. Tell your work buddy to hassle you if you skip the gym two days in a row. Make your partner aware that you need to eliminate certain foods from the house. Put yourself in a network of people who know you want to make a change and encourage them to support you. You may be surprised just how much support you get.
Reason 4: They are not prepared for setbacks
Not every gym session will go well. You won’t prep all your meals properly every week. You may even injure yourself, or the gym may close for a month, or a thousand other things may happen that make you want to quit. If you are not prepared for these setbacks, you give yourself no way to overcome them. There are actually two solutions to this. First, prepare as much as you can. Have extra, back-up meals in the freezer. Have a ‘Plan B’ for if all the rowing machines are taken, or the gym has a leak. You still have a home, workout there for the day! The second solution is to be prepared in general. What I mean here is you need to be psychologically ready for things to go wrong. Don’t get stuck in a mentality of ‘This is what I’m doing. The alternative is fatness and death.’
You have to accept that at some point you may pull a hamstring, or eat a piece of birthday cake, or drink yourself stupid at a friend’s bachelor party. The trick is to allow for these potential issues in your planning. Make a decision that no matter what happens, you will always stop, assess, and re-align yourself on your goals. This way, the goal may shift slightly, but you’ll keep moving forwards.
At the end of the day, it’s all about preparation. Arm yourself with the knowledge that people fail through lack of preparedness and set yourself up to succeed. Otherwise you’ll just be back there at square one the next time, and the time after that. Do it right, do it once, and you never have to start from scratch again.
Pic by: www.flickr.com/photos/ilike