Here are the top 5 commons mistake I've seen from people in their fitness journey.
Doing too much too soon
Not having a plan
Wanting something that feels challenging
Obsessing about the outcome
1. Doing too much too soon
So you decided to start working towards a new goal and you feel pumped about it. You start to think about all the things you have to do and all of a sudden they start to pile up. Eat better, grocery shop, meal plan, workout, hydrate, sleep, maintain a social life, recover, water the plants...the list goes on. Try to do everything at once and you are sure to end up overwhelmed and fed up with this new goal. You may be able to maintain this for a few days, maybe a couple weeks but I've rarely seen people who try to do everything at once succeed for much longer than that.
This leads to the yo-yo effect, of doing everything perfectly for a few weeks, then just stopping everything, only to start again once you feel like this time it'll be different.
When you start, take things one at a time and give yourself the time to get good at that one thing before moving to the next one.
One way you could do this is being consistent at showing up for your workouts. Keep the rest of your life the same, and just get good at showing up. When you do that consistently, pick something else like grocery shopping, or sleeping better, or portion control. Then get good at that before adding a third thing.
2. Not having a plan
A plan is a general outline of what you are going to be doing in the future. It covers what you'll be doing in the gym but also has contingency measures when life gets in the way. What will you do if you miss a workout, or miss a meal plan day? These are answers that a good plan takes care of. After you do your first two or three weeks when you are motivated, what is the next step?
When you start a fitness goal, map it out 2-3 months into the future. What kind of workouts will you do? How will you progress during the next few months? What will you eat? When will you be able to have cheat meals (The answer should be at least once a week)?
When you have the next 8-12 weeks mapped out, start planing each week when they come. What days will you work out? What happens if you miss a scheduled workout? (You should have back up days for missed workouts). What day will you go grocery shopping and what days will you meal prep?
A good plan takes care of all the "what ifs" that may arise at any point during the next few months.
3. Being impatient
Wanting your hard work to yield results is natural. Wanting it to happen in a week is problematic.
Your body needs time to adapt to the changes you are putting it through. Often time the big changes require lots of small incremental changes beforehand and you may not feel these changes instantly.
Example: You want to lift heavier weights. You will most likely need to go to the gym and work on your technique first, then gradually increase the intensity of your workouts and then, finally lift heavier weights. The initial changes, of working on the technique are very subtle, and you may not feel them right away. They are nonetheless necessary steps to lifting heavier, which is what you want to see.
The quickest change you can make and feel almost the same day, in my experience, is to drink more water if you are currently not drinking enough. That is the only time I've heard people say they felt a change almost instantly. That usually is a small change in the pursuit of something much more complicated like eating better, feeling more energized or just being more healthy.
Practice feeling and acknowledging your small wins. You may not feel like a new person after a small win, but remember that small wins compound. Get good at compounding the small wins and you'll be surprised how far you will go.
Keep in mind it usually takes 1 months for you to see results, 2 months for your close friends and family to see them and 3 months for everyone else.
4. Wanting something that feels challenging
Results come from doing the right things over and over. You don't need to do the toughest workouts all the time, but you do need the right workouts consistently. You don't need a super rigid meal plan, you need to eat healthy most of the time.
I've noticed that we are not wired that way. We don't like doing something that feels easy, because where are the results in that right? Wrong. Working on your lifting technique will make you stronger, even though the exercises are not tough. Going on a small walk will help you lose weight, even though it's not an hour of intense cardio.
In the long distance running world, zone 2 training is recommended for 80% of the training sessions. For those of you unfamiliar with zone 2, it's a very low intensity. Something that you could do for a very long time, that keeps you heart rate relatively low. In the gym, we rarely go to failure in each exercises. The goal is to do consistently do the right workouts, and doing extremely challenging workouts over and over again is not a good way of doing this.
There is a time and a place to push yourself past your limits. Be patient, plan those workouts accordingly and train to perform well over the long term. Human performance increases in an undulating way, which means you cannot always push hard, you need down time, you need time to rebuild your muscles, you need time to work on form. If you've done point 2 (making a plan), you should see exactly when your intensity will be low and when it will be high.
5. Obsessing about the outcome
When you set a big goal, like losing a bunch of weight, or lifting more weight, or performing better at a sport, that is called an outcome goal. It's important to know what is the outcome you want from your training. The trick is that once you set your outcome goal, you should start focusing on smaller goals that are easy to track.
Let's say I have a race coming up, and I want to lose 15 pounds in three months. What are the smaller goals that will help me get there? Eating more nutrient rich foods, getting good sleep and training properly would be at the top of my list. I can even break those down into smaller goals: Making sure I grocery properly to keep my fridge stocked with healthy food, having healthy snacks readily available with me, not being in front of a screen before bed, not missing any workouts.
These small goals will help you stay on track when you don't see immediate results. The truth is I may not lose a few pounds 2-3 weeks into my training, so instead of thinking "OMG this is not working!!!!!" I can think about practicing the small habits that will yield those results.
These small goals are called process goals. Focus on creating the best process goals and your outcome goals will happen seamlessly. You can reverse engineer your outcome goals into process goals. The more you reverse engineer it, the more precise the process goals.
Exemple: I want to run a fast 10km -> I need to add more tempo/interval training -> I need to be consistent with these workouts -> I need to be fueled and rested properly -> I need to get a better sleep hygiene/meal plan -> ....you could continue even furhter depending on where you're at.
Wanting to lose weight -> need to eat better consistently -> meal prep -> go grocery shopping regularly -> set a regular time and day for grocery shopping and meal prepping.
In conclusion, take your time to create a plan that will help you in the next 2-3 months. Plan out what could get in the way and how to respong to it. Focus on small incremental changes over the weeks and mastering each of these changes one at a time.
You got this ;)