Five Limiting Factors That Kill Fitness Goals (And How To Overcome Them)

Written by Taylor Empey – Certified Fitness Trainer & Nutrition Specialist, Salt Lake City

In my experience as a seasoned fitness coach, I have helped thousands of people when it comes to accomplishing fitness goals. Whether it be fat loss, muscle building, performance, body image issues, dealing with eating disorders, or battling medical conditions, I’ve seen a lot. What I can tell you is that no matter the person, their age, sex, body type, goal, or experience level, every person who fails to reach their goals, including myself, did so as a result of one of these five key limiting factors.

Wishful Thinking vs Personal Values

A goal is not just something you say you would like to have – that is just a wish. A goal is something you identify that is missing from your life that, if accomplished, would increase the quality of your life substantially and is something you truly value. In my experience, many people have what they call “goals,” that are in reality just manifestations of wishful thinking or envy.

“many people have what they call “goals,” that are in reality just manifestations of wishful thinking or envy.”

The key here is to take the time to sit down and think about the things you truly value in your life. If your health, fitness, and a healthy body image truly are part of those values, you have found a solid foundation to build your goals upon.

Setting Goals with an Unrealistic Timeframe

Often, clients have incredible goals they are working towards accomplishing. However, even in the midst of well thought out goals, people sometimes place unrealistic timeframes or deadlines for achieving those goals.

Now, it is important for you to set a deadline and make sure that deadline does inspire some sense of urgency if you want to reach your goal. However, many people establish healthy goals, but establish them with seriously unhealthy deadlines. Just the other day (as I write this article) I was having a conversation with a potential client who wanted to lose 100 lbs. in a 28 week period. In the past, I have helped individuals lose over 100 lbs. in a healthy way; that is not the issue. The issue is the completely unrealistic timeframe this person set for themselves to accomplish their goal in a healthy manner. Inevitably, this person is setting themselves up for failure and disappointment not because their goal was unrealistic, but because the timeframe they wanted to accomplish it in was unrealistic and severely unhealthy.

Lack of Preparation & Systems for Tracking Progress

Another major issue I have found when working with clients is a lack of preparation and systems for tracking progress. One of my personal mentors, Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success Magazine, has often restated the quote by Peter Drucker, “You cannot manage what you do not measure.”

Even if you establish a solid goal and a realistic timeframe to accomplish that goal, if you fail to plan and establish appropriate systems for managing the process of working towards the achievement of that goal, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Whether it be systems of social accountability, working with a trainer, tracking your measurements and progress photos, using a fitness tracker device, or using a variety of mobile fitness apps to document your progress, you need to establish a system of accountability and tracking progress, so you can identify and celebrate your progress along your journey.

Lack of Commitment

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” What this means when it comes to working on your fitness goals is that it’s going to take time, hard work, energy, resources, and patience for you to achieve anything worthwhile. This philosophy states essentially that most things that come to us easily are usually fleeting and have little to no real value to us.

If you truly value and want to accomplish your fitness goals you need to establish your “why.” Your “why” is the primary, emotionally inspiring driving force behind why your goals actually matter to you. If you have not established a solid reason why these goals are even important to you, you will fail to remain committed to them when the going gets tough.

My personal recommendation is that your “why” should be powerful enough that it emotionally moves you or drives you to tears because your journey to a healthier, leaner, stronger you most definitely will. You need to have a reminder for why you are working so hard to reach these goals. Without it, you will fail.

Lack of Sustainability

The final factor that regularly hinders people from achieving their fitness goals is simply failing to establish a plan for consistent sustainability once they have actually achieved their goals. People get so focused on achieving a goal, they forget to make a plan for when they actually reach their goal. Once they get there, and some time goes by, they often fall back into old habits and eventually back into their old body and fitness level. The way to prevent this is by setting yourself up for success by having a solid plan for consistent sustainability once you have reached your goal.

Five steps for overcoming the most common factors that kill fitness goals:

  1. Establish a solid foundation for your goals (not just wishful thinking).
  2. Set an urgent but realistic timeframe or deadline for the accomplishment of those goals.
  3. Set yourself up for success with proper systems of preparation and tracking your progress.
  4. Establish your “why” so when your confidence waivers, you can remind yourself why you are powerfully committed to your goals.
  5. Set yourself up for success by designing a plan for consistent sustainability once you have accomplished your goals so you can maintain your progress.
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