By Barrett White
How setting expectations, knowing your body, and uplifting yourself can help you achieve your goals.
Who among us feels defeated when we see a football player, model, or actor on the cover of a health and fitness magazine?
I know I do.
It’s easy to respect the work these individuals put into their bodies; we know that’s not easy! But these results aren’t typical, and are often based on lifestyles that afford them the resources necessary to spend hours in the gym, buy the freshest food, and in some (not all) cases, procedures like liposuction, CoolSculpting, and other cosmetic interventions.
So what are some common sense, realistic expectations we can set for ourselves this New Year?
“Remember: Your workout journey needs to be a selfish program,” says Felicia Lee-Sexton, certified fitness trainer and Wellness Manager at Legacy’s Body Positive program. “If you are not in a healthy place, you cannot help others. Schedule your workout like you do all your appointments.”
A 2015 study listed in the National Library of Medicine found that “unrealistic expectations of exercise benefits may lead to disappointment and [loss of efficacy],” or that idolizing the lifestyle and outcomes of a fitness plan heralded by someone with a greatly different lifestyle than your own can, itself, lead to failure when you don’t achieve the same outcomes as them. The study goes on to say, “Taken together, these studies suggest that expectations involving the role of exercise in weight loss may negatively influence initiation and maintenance of an exercise program.”
“I tell people all the time: don’t look to the left, don’t look to the right, don’t compare your body to anybody else,” Lee-Sexton said in a January 2022 feature in OutSmart Magazine. “That’s the best way to get messed up.”
The trick to maintaining your health and fitness journey – whether that’s a New Years resolution or otherwise – is to take stock of your own lifestyle, says Lee-Sexton:
- Be realistic about your goals and the time you have to spend working out: Know your limitations in your schedule and set realistic goals based on that – not on the goals set by the professional athlete with more free time than you!
- Invest in yourself: Look into hiring a personal trainer or joining a class, or you might find yourself in the gym not knowing what to do, at least at first.
- Remember to set small goals and not overwhelm yourself!
“And most importantly,” Lee-Sexton says, “take it one day at a time.”
Your health and fitness journey is yours and no one else’s. Your body’s needs are not the same as the needs of the person next to you, and neither are the other forces in your lives like access to food, a gym, or available time in the day. Realistic expectations for your journey – and sticking to it – are the way forward to your next level.