You’ve been getting your workouts in, and you’re moving more and eating better. But no matter how many positive changes you’ve made and good habits you’ve adopted, you’re still not seeing the kind of progress you were expecting. Why?!?! Despite all of these good healthy habits you’ve fit into your life, you might have some ingrained habits that are secretly sabotaging your progress and preventing you from getting to the fitness level you’re aiming for.
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1. Dreading Your Workout
Next time you’re in the gym, look at your fellow exercisers. Chances are a good portion of them will look absolutely miserable. Too many people walk into the gym dreading the torture they’re about to put themselves through. They might end up putting in less effort into their workout, and they’ll be much less likely to come back. Don’t let this be you.
Just because has the word “work” in it, doesn’t mean your workout has to be a bad experience. Yes you should absolutely exert yourself and put some effort into it, but it can and should be fun. If you hate something, and consider it torture, you won’t keep doing it. So if there’s a particular exercise that you really don’t like, skip it! Get creative and try new ways to workout and play at the same time. Staying excited about fitness is incredibly important to making exercise a lasting habit.
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2. Doing the Same Workout Every Time
A great way to keep the excitement and fun is to switch up your workouts. Some folks hang onto the elliptical for every workout, while others just do weights and nothing else. While sticking to only one type of exercise is great to build up a habit and get better at that particular movement, it can also prevent well-rounded fitness and open you up to a higher risk of injury.
Cross training is key to making sure you’re hitting all of the different muscle groups in different ways. Working in a mix of flexibility, stability, power, endurance, and strength can do wonders for your overall fitness level. It can help you adapt to new movements throughout your daily life, prevent exercise boredom and burnout, ward off injury, and let you keep working through any injuries that may occur. (http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00339) Try building out a weekly schedule that includes different exercise styles and modalities, cycle through that diversified program each week, and see the amazing benefits kick in.
[Study data / quotes from experts on drawbacks of doing the same workout every time vs. the benefits of varying workouts]
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3. Sitting Too Much
Let’s face it: in today’s day and age, we sit a LOT. We sit during our commute, when we eat, as we wait, while we work, in the bathroom, when we relax with some Netflix, and when we Facebook stalk our exes. All of this adds up to around 60 hours of sitting each week. Well, “so what” - right? It’s just sitting. While it may not seem so bad, research shows that sitting too much can contribute to obesity, metabolic syndrome, hip and lower back issues, and more, leading to a downward cycle of inactivity. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005) Overdoing it on sitting can definitely do more harm than we may think.
When we sit all day and keep our mind occupied with work or the internet, we’re not mindful of our lack of activity. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to easily boost your activity and lessen some of the effects of sitting. Getting up to take short breaks and walks, even just to use the bathroom or to fill up a cup of water, can make sure you’re stretching your legs and getting some blood flowing. Setting an alarm for once an hour, or using a fitness tracker that has an inactivity alarm, can be a great reminder to get up and move.
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4. Setting the bar too high
A lot of people think that if they don’t make it to the gym, they’ve failed. Unfortunately, this mentality drives too many to give up on trying to get fit, thinking that it doesn’t count if it’s not big. The reality is that doing some physical activity, even if it is just for a few minutes, can make a huge difference in your physical fitness.
A workout doesn’t have to be an hour long session at the gym. You can get great results from a HIIT workout, some pushups, or a quick yoga routine. When you aren’t up for a full workout, celebrate the little bits of activity you can sneak in throughout the day. Things like walking up a flight of stairs, parking at the far end of the parking lot, carrying your groceries home, and getting a nice deep squat when pick up a box. Doing any activity is a win!
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5. Focusing on the Wrong Measurements
Tracking your fitness progress can be a great way to know if your routine is working, and can help keep you motivated to stay active. But tracking can also backfire if you’re using the wrong metrics. The scale is the traditional go-to method of fitness tracking, but it might not be the best. Your weight on the scale, and the Body Mass Index (BMI) number you can get as a result, but it doesn’t tell you what’s actually going on inside of your body (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/3/694.full). Yes, you’re losing the weight of any fat you’ve burned, but you may be gaining the weight of any muscle you’ve built .
Measuring the body physically is a great way really see your body transformation. Whether that’s taking a tape measure to different parts of the body, taking progress photos week after week, finding out your Body Fat Percentage, or testing yourself to see how much you’re improved in strength and endurance. If you want to go deeper, Heart Rate Variability, resting heart rate, and blood pressure are other key metrics to get a full picture of your cardiovascular and overall health.
Your body takes time to adjust to changes in fitness level, and you usually won’t see results immediately. Be patient with yourself and focus in on adopting healthy habits rather than flashy programs offering quick results. Fitness comes with time and effort, so do what you can, don’t go crazy, and enjoy the journey!