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Fitness: Why Do People Quit?

by Oscar Saucedo

“Day One” of your fitness journey is an amazing day.  It means you made a decision to take care of your health, to improve your quality of life, and to give your best effort to be there for your loved ones later in life—full of energy.  And the second, third, and fourth time that you are back for “day one” is equally amazing! But it’s sad when people quit and never return to finish what they started.  Here are some of the reasons that people abandon their goals:

They don’t really have a plan.  I like to compare a fitness journey to beginning—and finishing—a college education.  You have to start with some basics and prerequisites.  Then you can move on to the incrementally more advanced and complex stuff just before accomplishing your goal.  But to get your degree, you don’t just go in and take random classes with no clear plan.  You first determine what degree you want, then you go see a counselor that tells you which classes to take and when to take them.

Of course, the “counselor” in the gym would be a qualified fitness expert.  Get some advice so that you aren’t walking up to randomly chosen machines without a clear plan.  Fortunately, fitness advice is becoming widely available in the form of more personal trainers, coach-led fitness classes, smart phone app training, virtual training, etc.  You can also teach yourself, if you so choose.  But do not neglect the importance of having a plan, and executing the plan.

Their expectations don’t match reality.  Changing your body does not happen overnight.  Most people think that they understand that—until they are 3 months into it and aren’t satisfied with their progress.  Losing fat can be relatively quick if you are doing the right things.  You can lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week.  But building muscle takes a long time.  Be patient with the visible physical changes. I promise you that your fitness role model has likely been exercising for years!  Thankfully, even though you may not see the results soon enough, the invisible physical changes are still happening.  You ARE getting better.  Trust it. Stick to it.

They have convinced themselves that getting fit requires hunger and pain.  Yes, to make your body change, you have to leave your comfort zone.  You have to push your body to do things it has not done before.  But that does not mean that you have to be uncomfortably hungry all the time.  If you are hungry, you likely aren’t eating enough.  That won’t be something you can sustain for long.  

And yes, sometimes pain is “weakness leaving the body”.  Sometimes, no pain = no gain.  But many times, pain is your body telling you that something is wrong. Knowing the difference can help you avoid injuries.  Not many people will continue working out with nagging injuries.  So while somepain and hunger are normal(you shouldn’t be a wuss), excessive hunger and pain will stop anyone’s progress. 

They fail to anticipate “commitment fatigue”.  It’s pretty easy to do your “Day One” cardio at 5am.  It’s a different story on “Day 10”.  Day One is filled with purpose, dedication, and decisiveness.  You have your reasons to get healthy, and they are top of mind.  It’s funny how easily you can lose sight of those reasons, though.  Anticipate that you will get tired of waking up at 4:30am every day.  Create a more realistic schedule for yourself.  Try doing 5am on Mondays and Thursdays only, and mix in some Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.  Get a 5thday in with a “pre-brunch” Saturday morning workout.  These are only suggestions.  The point is that you need to have a schedule that you can stick to long term.  Be honest with yourself.  And if you MUST stick to early mornings because of your schedule, then know that it’s going to get difficult.  With that knowledge, you can at least know what to expect and plan for it.  

Consistency + time = results.  The road to being and staying healthy does not end when your gym contract ends. It’s for life.  Keep an open mind and try everything.  Try every class, every type of training, yoga, pilates, crossfit, running, Zumba, etc. You never know what you will love. That’s the best advice I can give to help you stay committed.  

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