It doesn't matter if you're a professional athlete, a yoga guru or a gym newbie, we all face fitness struggles sometimes. Luckily, many of these challenges have simple solutions. Here are five of the most common problems that I hear about from my clients, along with my advice for solving them.
1. Struggle: No time to work out
Not having enough time to exercise is perhaps the most common fitness struggle. Most of us lead busy lives, and finding room in our schedules to get to the gym or go for a run just doesn’t seem possible. Perhaps you’ve tried waking up early and working out before work or school, but the routine didn’t stick. Maybe after a long day of work, you just want to get home, eat dinner and rest.
The fix: Plan and schedule exercise
The key to successfully fitting workouts into your day is to treat them like an appointment that can’t be missed. Scheduling is important! If you find that your daily activities aren’t flexible enough—take a step back and look at the entire week’s plans. Locate the days and times you are free, and pencil in your workouts. If it’s a busy week and you can’t fit in five days, aim for three (or at least two). The next week there may be additional slots you can add to your calendar.
2. Struggle: Unrealistic expectations
It’s hard to look at images online and on social media and not think, I want to look like that. We easily forget many of the images have been enhanced with lighting, filters, cropping and other technological trickeries. Remember, we all have different body types. Comparing ourselves can be a set up for failure. We may set unrealistic goals, such as losing weight too quickly, working out every day without rest, running a race when not prepared. This can lead to burnout injuries, and an unhealthy view of fitness.
The fix: Set yourself up for success
Fitness is a lifelong journey, and as with many other things in our lives—it’s a learning and growing process! Don't give up because results don’t show fast enough. Set realistic short-term goals that lead to longer term goals. Everyone’s fitness abilities are different, and that's OK. Once you reach one goal, set a new one. For example, if your long-term goal is to run a marathon, start with training for a 5K and progress from there. If you have extra pounds to shed, aim for 1-2 a week, not a day, for healthy, sustained weight loss.
3. Struggle: I'm bored
We’ve all been there. Doing the same workout routine day in and day out causes us to lose interest. Even if you can actually see the results of your workouts, the routine feels stale. When your workout seems consistently boring to you, it’s time for a change.
The fix: Make small changes
This one is a simple fix. Being bored doesn't mean you need to disrupt your entire workout routine. If there is an activity you've always wanted to try, now’s the time to incorporate it into your weekly routine. Swapping out one day for something different is all you need. Some activities that can liven up things include Tai Chi, adult ballet or jazz class, Pilates, or try something else out of the box. Switch up your cardio routine, run a different path, do upper body exercises one day and lower body the next. Little changes like this can break up the monotony.
4. Struggle: Staying consistent
With all the fitness options available today, it's not easy to stay focused. It seems like everyone is getting lean, or gaining muscle, and competing in a triathlon sounds fun—the list goes on and on. Note, in this case, the goal isn't the problem—it's the getting there. If you're constantly changing your workouts and focus, your body doesn't know what it's doing. And then the excuses creep in as to why we aren't achieving the results we want. Nothing seems to be working.
The fix: Stay the path
Be clear on what you’re trying to achieve and stick with it. Whether it's working out or eating healthy, you have to work toward it consistently. If your focus is weight loss, then concentrate on a plan that brings up your heart rate and tones (plyometrics, circuit training, a triathlon, swim, bike or run), and stick with it. Be steady with your plan, give it time, and you will see changes.
5. Struggle: Sticking with a clean-eating diet
If you've already cleaned up and changed your diet, then you may be familiar with this struggle. Sometimes it feels like all you do is read labels and scrutinize every piece of food. It takes time to prepare healthy meals, pack them, and then make sure you eat them (the struggle can be real trying to eat every 3 hours!). It would be much easier to throw a frozen meal in the microwave or have a bowl of popcorn for lunch. But that's not an option (at least not most days).
The fix: Prioritize variety
I’ve found that when I'm struggling with eating, it's time to incorporate more variety and try some new recipes. Use different condiments like salsa or liquid aminos on eggs, fish or chicken for different flavor. Try a whole grain cereal with protein powder, fruit and almond milk as a snack or meal. Make your own protein bars! Give salads a makeover by using a spinach/kale mixture with plenty of veggies, walnuts, dried fruit, seeds, tuna and reduced-fat feta cheese mixed in. Need ideas? Social media and blogs are a great place to start!