One of the reasons why people make the same fitness resolutions year after year is they have unrealistic expectations of what exercise can do for them. People usually resolve to improve their appearance, weight, health, or athletic performance.
When they don’t get the results they want or when they realize how much effort is actually required to achieve their goal, they become disappointed and quit. When the next January rolls around, the urge to make a fitness resolution reappears and the cycle begins all over again. If you want to avoid this scenario from replaying every year, you need to have realistic resolutions.
Just like you cannot walk into a plastic surgeon’s office asking to look like your favorite celebrity, you cannot expect exercise to transform your body into someone else’s. Many people choose an exercise regimen because they think it will give them the same body as their fitness idol. This belief is a set-up for disappointment. Forty-plus-year-old women who take up yoga because they think they will get Madonna’s body will be frustrated when three months later, they are stronger, more flexible, calmer, more centered but not any closer to getting Madonna’s physique.
If you want some inspiration, choose a role model whose age and body type closely resembles your own. However, also remember that even if you have the same genetic potential, great looking bodies are not built overnight. Madonna’s enviable figure is the result of decades of consistent exercise. If this is your dream, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to start. Just be realistic about how much time and effort you are going to have to invest in your workouts.
If you are a male and your fitness goal is to have bigger muscles, disappointment can set in if your muscles don’t grow as fast as you’d like them to. It is normal to become stronger without an increase in muscle size during the first few weeks or months of a weightlifting program. This is because muscle fibers that have never been used before are “waking up”. When all your muscle cells have been properly stimulated, then you will start to see your muscles grow.
Weight loss is the driving force behind many fitness resolutions. If you have an obsession with the scale, you might get disappointed with exercise because the scale may not budge even if your clothes are getting looser. You have to realize that you can lose inches and drop one or two clothes size without losing a large amount of weight. One possible explanation is that fat cells shrink as muscle cells become denser and heavier. Another theory is that visceral fat (the fat deep in your abdominal cavity) is one of the first types of fat to be reduced due to exercise. The result is a smaller waistline at the same weight.
Exercise can definitely do wonders for your health. It can help to normalize blood pressure and blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase bone density, etc. However, you have to realize that exercise is just one of the components of health improvement. Exercise cannot do it all for you. Other lifestyle factors like nutrition, sleep, and stress management are equallym important. So don’t expect your blood pressure to improve dramatically if you continue to eat foods high in sodium and you don’t do anything to control your stress levels.
You may have heard that top athletes work out to improve their performance. The fitter you are, the more strength and stamina you will have to play your sport and, of course, this will translate into better athletic performance. However, your exercise program has to fit the physiological needs of your sport so it is best to consult a certified athletic trainer to design a program for you. Also, remember that being fit is not the only secret of athletic success. Genetics, attitude, and hours of practice are also factors.