Saturday, 10 September 2016

Why am I not Improving?

Why am I not improving?

As a personal trainer, I cross paths with dozens of people every week who have designs on improving their health. Many are looking for fat loss, some want to get stronger, others are training for a race or event, and then there are those who’re focusing more on posture and corrective exercises. Whatever their reason, they’ve made a conscious decision to do something about bettering themselves in some way, which is AWESOME!

Let’s face it, most of us would like to improve our health and become a fitter version of ourselves. So why is it that only a very small percentage of us successfully reach our goals and make the necessary lifestyle adjustments to do so?

In my experience, I’ve identified 4 main barriers that prevent us from reaching our potential, or sometimes even beginning the process.

THE KNOWLEDGE
As much as we’d love for it to be true, we don’t have all of the answers. We all have our areas of expertise and not everyone has studied exercise, nutrition and strength & conditioning. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the internet is FULL of conflicting information and to try every diet, read every fat loss article and watch all of the YouTube videos on the latest fad muscle building protocol would take forever. I guess that my point here is that you need to be patient. In order to acquire the knowledge that you need can certainly take some time and even professional athletes and fitness models will tell you that they’re always learning new tricks to maintain or accelerate their progress. Reaching out to a trusted fitness professional can be useful in this instance. By investing time and money in a PT you’re basically outsourcing a lot of that learning. A good personal trainer will identify methods that are likely to work for you and guide you down the right path, saving stacks of time and frustration in the long run. So ask yourself, do I actually know what I’m doing here or do I need to improve my knowledge in order to give myself a chance at seeing those results?

THE SUPPORT
As I get older I’d like to think that I’m getting wiser with it. Well, that’s what they tell me should happen! Over the past couple of years I’ve started to think more about who I’m spending my time with and what type of people I want to have in my life and have influence on me. I’m now very much committed to keeping certain types of people at arm’s length. These are people who either add little to my life or, indeed, detract from it in some way. I’m talking about people who are negative in their outlook on life, don’t inspire you to become a better person, don’t respect your decisions and don't support you in your pursuits.

I come across these people in my own life and hear about them every day at work. It might be lots of little things, or the occasional big thing, but people who don't support your health & fitness journey, be it a friend who bails on your gym workouts, or a partner that detriments your healthy eating, are not supportive and their actions might be hindering your progress towards your goals. Now, I'm not saying that you should remove these people from your life, but they are holding you back and you should try to address that. Perhaps it’s a matter of simply educating them to help them understand how they can help you.

THE TIME
We’re all busy people. Most of us have jobs, children, partners, travel commitments, housework, studying etc. to juggle on a daily basis. It’s therefore easy to use time as a reason not to exercise. And yes, it may well be difficult to train for the Olympics whilst having all of these other factors to consider, but I’m not sure this blog is necessarily aimed at that demographic! Luckily for professional athletes, exercise in various forms is their day job and they’re able to spend a lot of time doing it. But what about the rest of us? Firstly, I’d guess that there’s probably a whole list of things that we fill our time with that could be streamlined or taken out altogether. Examples include:

  • Checking social media
  • Watching TV
  • Cooking individual meals and not bulk cooking
  • Window shopping
  • Arguing with your partner

An effective high intensity interval training (HIIT) session can last less than 10 minutes and can be done in the comfort of your own living room with no equipment at all. We can all make 10 minutes to fit this in, no matter how busy we think our lives are. If you consider your health more important than watching cats ride skateboards on YouTube then I’d suggest looking at your time management.

THE DRIVE
I have a question that I often ask my new personal training clients. This not only helps me to ascertain their level of commitment and future compliance but also brings these variables to their attention to. That question is simple:

'How much do you care?'

You see, we all have the ability to changes our lives in pretty much any way we like. Sure, these changes won’t always happen quickly but every decision you make will push you in a certain direction. In order to make the correct decisions, of course, it helps to have everything mentioned above dialled in (knowledge, support and time). But what happens when all of those things are taken care of but you’re still struggling to progress down your chosen route? I’d say that the issue in this case is usually a matter of not wanting it enough.

Experience usually tells us that in order to succeed in anything we need to really want it. After all, if you don’t actually care that much then you won’t make a serious and concerted effort to change. We need clear goals - tangible targets that we can visualise reaching and are excited to realise. Only then are we going to take the plunge and commit to achieving.

So, I encourage you to consider each of these areas in relation to your own health & fitness pursuits. If you're not at least moving in the right direction you might find it useful to address one or all of the aforementioned sections. Finding new ways to keep yourself motivated will give you a fighting chance of reaching your potential.

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