The hardest part of living a new lifestyle is always starting; that could be starting a new fitness routine or quitting a bad habit. Anything that is new and different always takes time to become a habit. One thing I’ve noticed being in the fitness industry for over a decade is that starting out as a newbie or someone who has started and quit and started over again is that they all make common mistakes. My goal is to help you stay focused, avoid these pitfalls and make health and fitness a lifestyle habit that stays with you for life by avoiding these eight common fitness mistakes that I’ve made, and I’ve seen countless other people make.
1. Zero To One-Hundred Real Quick
Coming out of the gates swinging for the fences can be very destructive for your body and your habit building. Enthusiasm is great, but it can run out fast; if you don’t have the habit built, you’ll have to rely on willpower alone, but willpower can run low quickly. Take your time building your new fitness habit. You won’t be in perfect shape overnight; patience is critical here. Instead of hitting the gym or fitness classes seven days a week, start with three or four. If you’ve never hit the gym, going once a week or twice a week is a great foundation for building your new habit. Remember the goal is to build a habit that’ll last a lifetime, not burn out within a week.
2. Avoiding The Weights
An all too common mistake that people make when they first start out is that they only do cardio. They run for 30 minutes on the treadmill and avoid the rest of the gym. Don’t forget that weights and strength training are your friends. Strength training can help correct posture, build muscle strength, help burn more calories and make you feel strong. There are a lot more health benefits, and the list goes on and on. Make sure you’re going to the weight room from time to time because this will help with your overall health goal. If you are uncomfortable or unsure what to do, hire a personal trainer. They can assist with building a program and getting you comfortable around weights.
3. Guessing What To Do
Everybody is different and needs a different routine and/or diet. We think that some workout or diet worked for someone, so it must work for us. This is another common mistake. Again, hire a personal trainer to help you out if you are unsure; someone that can help build you an entire personalized roadmap for you to follow. Don’t get me wrong, moving and exercising is better than not doing anything at all, but don’t get stuck spinning your wheels. Try to find a workout plan you can stick with and try it out; if you don’t see results then switch it up. Guessing what to do can be a big mistake a lot of fitness beginners make because they don’t have all the knowledge seasoned fitness folks have, but find an online program you like and give it a shot. You can always adjust in 4-6 weeks.
4. Switching Your Plan Too Often
I’m going to piggyback off that last mistake with this one. Do not switch your plan too often. Give your fitness plan 4-6 weeks and if you don’t see results, then try something new. Remember it takes time to see results. Keeping your body guessing is also good, so do switch it up after a month or so. There are some great, free apps out there, like the Nike Training Club that has 4-8 week training plans that adjust to you and your feedback.
5. Measuring Weight Not Progress
This is a H-U-G-E (Trump voice) mistake. The scale is a liar and shouldn’t be trusted; it will cheat you of all your confidence and good progress. Too many people completely rely on the scale to tell them if they are moving in the right direction but do not fall for this one. There are better ways to measure progress and healthier ones, too. As you work out, you will naturally add muscle and lose fat. You may be leaner but weigh in the exact same weight. That is all part of losing body fat which is why you can’t trust your scale. Muscle weighs more than fat. Throw your scale away and only weigh in once a month if you must. Check your progress with measurements, body fat percentage or even an older pair of jeans you use to fit in as your new measuring stick.
6. Working Out Until You Vomit
I’ve met some fitness professionals that pride themselves with how fast they can get their client to puke. Maybe with the right client it’s motivating but for 99% of us, it is not a good tactic. Your workouts don’t need to kill you when you first start out; you just need to get moving to build the habit. We are focused on building a lifestyle. You need victories often to keep the momentum going. If you feel sick, stop. You don’t have to push yourself to pure exhaustion to get healthy. If you can’t do an hour workout, start with 30-minutes; if you can’t do 30-minutes, do 20-minutes; if you can’t do that, then do 15-minutes. The point is just working out and getting in shape and healthy. Small steps are better than no steps and anyone who believes otherwise is a fool.
7. Not Enough Variety
Variety is the key to eliminating boredom. By variety, I don’t mean switching up what you do every single week for workouts but I mean doing yoga on Monday, a spin class on Wednesday and bootcamp on Friday. You could do that routine for 4-6 weeks and see great results. This keeps your body guessing, and it gives you a schedule of what you’re going to do. One of the best ways to access all types of gyms is a membership like Fitted where you get unlimited access to hundreds of local gyms with one membership. Fitted will ensure you get variety and eliminate that boredom without breaking the bank!
8. Not Setting Goals
Another common fitness mistake people make – not just beginners – is that we do not set goals. There is nothing worse than torturing yourself for no reason at all. You’re going to burn out really quickly if you don’t have a goal. Some of the best goals I’ve seen are training for a half-marathon, fitting into an old pair of jeans, learning to defend yourself, training for a strength training competition, and trying to be stronger than when you were 21 to name a few.
The truth is, if you set a goal, write it down and look at it everyday, you are more than 300% more likely to achieve it. Make sure you set something attainable because there is nothing worse than setting an astronomical, unachieveable goal that you never hit. Keeping the same goal is just as important too; nothing is more discouraging than never hitting your target because it keeps moving. I’m really guilty of always moving my target when I get close to it because I want to keep stretching myself, but I never get to embrace the victory. Make sure you enjoy the victory when you achieve your goal, then move on to the next target.
Your Plan To Avoid Fitness Mistakes
Make sure you try to avoid these eight common mistakes that I’ve seen hundreds of people make through the years. Take your time, build a habit and make small steps everyday towards your goal. You’ll build your new lifestyle in time and then it will be part of your life, just like sleeping and eating. If you have anything you like to avoid when building a new habit, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.