5 Reasons Most People Don’t Achieve Their Fitness Goals

5 Reasons Most People Don’t Achieve Their Fitness Goals

People love the idea of self-improvement. Men and women of all ages enjoy making bucket lists of goals, most of which they never achieve. The same is true of fitness goals. It’s easy to make lists of what you’d like to accomplish from a health and fitness standpoint but not so easy to consistently achieve them. Many people begin an exercise program with a “bang” and gradually lose their focus when they fail to see immediate results.

When’s the time most people set their fitness goals? At the start of a new year, of course. According to Forbes magazine, only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them. Why do so many people have trouble following through on their fitness goals? Here are five of the most common mistakes people when setting exercise goals.

Not Wanting Results Bad Enough or Working Out for the Wrong Reasons

It takes dedication and persistence to achieve a fitness goal. Wanting it badly enough and knowing WHY you want to be fitter and healthier will help you stay motivated until you start to see changes in your health, appearance and fitness level. When setting a fitness goal, ask yourself why you want to achieve a certain goal. Don’t accept your first answer. Ask yourself why again to clearly define why you want to want to get into better shape. Clearly identifying your motivation will make it easier to focus on your workouts and stick with the program until you get results.

The goals you’re most likely to achieve are ones you’re doing because YOU want to do it not because someone else wants you to. The more specific and clearly defined your goal is, the more likely you’ll achieve it. Goals should always be focused and realistic enough to be attainable. Your ultimate goal might be to lower your body fat by 10%, but this goal is too lofty initially. Just as it seems impossible to run a marathon when you’ve never run a mile, setting an inflated goal will only lead to discouragement. Instead, break a larger goal down into smaller, more realistic ones like losing 2% body fat per month. Setting incremental short-term, “mini-goals” and reaching them will boost your confidence and give you the motivation needed to stick with your ultimate fitness objective.

 Setting Too Many Fitness Goals at Once

How long is your list of fitness goals? Hopefully, not too long. It’s good to be ambitious, but how many goals can you really focus on at once? Shooting for too many goals at once inevitably leads to frustration. Focus on a single fitness goal with laser-like focus. Choose the one that’s most important to you and don’t introduce on a second one until you’ve achieved the first one. Structure your fitness routine around making that one goal happen.

Setting Fitness Goals That Are Incompatible with Your Life

If your life is complicated and time is a premium, committing to an hour-a-day workout probably isn’t possible – but that’s okay. Tailor your fitness goals and the strategies you use to achieve them so they’re in sync with the rest of your life. Keep things realistic. Begin by doing 10 minutes of exercise a day. Then gradually increase your workout time as more time becomes available. Having an “all or none” mentality towards working out will lead to lots of missed days of exercise.

Let go of perfectionism and the belief you have to exercise for a certain amount of time to get benefits. Longer workouts aren’t always better or more effective. The trend these days is towards short, intense workouts anyway. Brief, high-intensity workouts will give you benefits in the shortest time possible. Keep an exercise DVD in your player ready to fire up when you have a free moment. If you can’t finish it all, do another session later. When you work out at home, you can structure your workout around YOUR time.

 Not Holding Yourself Accountable

Fitness goals are difficult to achieve without accountability. One way to make yourself accountable is to tell others about your goal. One study showed people who tweet their weight loss goals are more likely to achieve them. You also need to be accountable to yourself. Plan your workouts like you plan other aspects of your life. Keep a fitness journal and document your fitness sessions – how long you worked out, the exercises you did, reps, sets and the amount of resistance you used. You can refer back to your journal and see how far you’ve come and whether you need to make changes. Seeing gradual improvement over time will keep you motivated and on course to achieve your goals.

 Not Setting a Deadline

What’s a goal without a deadline? You’ll be more focused if you have a specific time point for achieving your goal. Deadlines provide a sense of purpose. Have you ever set a goal to lose a certain amount of weight before a special occasion like a wedding? Having a specific time course for achieving what you set out to do creates a sense of urgency and increases the odds you’ll accomplish what you set out to do. Having a defined endpoint also helps you maintain momentum and focus. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you reach your goal. You deserve it!

The Bottom Line?

Be a goal setter, but make sure you’re setting yourself up to achieve your fitness goals. Don’t make these five goal-setting mistakes when planning your workouts.



Forbes.com. “Just 8% of People Achieve Their New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s How They Do It”

Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance. “Study: Tweeting fitness goals may help you lose weight”


Related Articles By Cathe:

Motivation Zappers: 6 Things That Destroy Your Motivation to Exercise

6 Tips for Setting and Achieving Fitness Goals

It’s a New Year: Is It Time to Reexamine Your Fitness Goals?

2 Types of Exercise Motivation & Why Only One is Sustainable

Fitness vs. Body Weight: Which is Most Important for Health?


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