So, you’re working out. You’re on what we like to call your “fitness journey” and staying committed to it. The exercises are consistent, and you aren’t just going through the motions. You’re pushing yourself. After every workout, the sweat is just pouring off of you. Great job!
So why aren’t you getting the results you want?
The truth is, this has happened to all of us at one time or another, so you are certainly not alone. Unfortunately, though, this is the point early on when a lot of people tend to give up. They feel like if they aren’t seeing progress, they probably never will, and they throw in the towel.
What we want to do today is identify why exactly you’re not reaching your fitness goals.
Now, there are a lot of possible reasons as to why you haven’t achieved the level of fitness — or the body — you’re wanting. So below are some likely explanations that you may not have even thought about.
One thing to note: it doesn’t matter what your method of exercise is. Whether you’re doing pure cardio, training with weights, or using our preferred method of calisthenics, these are applicable for just about anyone. Check out these overlooked reasons you’re not reaching your fitness goals, and let us know if you have any questions or comments below!
Reason #1: Not Getting Enough Sleep
We thought we’d start here because this is something we recently highlighted in another article. That was about testosterone and how to maximize your body’s ability to produce it. We mentioned a study that found male participants who were sleep deprived saw their testosterone levels drop by up to 15%, much higher than the average annual decrease of 1-2% for men over 30.
And that has a lot to do with the results you want to see in the mirror following a workout. Testosterone is a hormone directly linked to both muscle mass and strength.
Beyond that, the quantity and quality of the sleep you get is critical for your fitness. Sleep regulates mood, and we all know what it feels like to plan to workout all day, only to find yourself lacking the drive and motivation to do so when the time comes. Not to mention, a lack of sleep means you’re more likely to crave unhealthy snacks in a way very similar to the “munchies” marijuana users experience. Needless to say, that is detrimental to your fitness journey.
And speaking of food…
Reason #2: Rewarding Yourself with Food
Alright, you cranked out a great workout. Nice work! Your muscles are aching and you are really feeling the burn. Now, time to find something to eat.
Well, after all that grueling exercise you just did, a burger and fries wouldn’t be so bad, would it? After all, you’ve earned it! No harm in rewarding yourself with a little treat!
Not so fast. This is one of the major ways people can sabotage their own fitness goals. One meal of junky, unhealthy food can undo multiple workouts. Let’s say you did an hour of intense aerobic training. That’s enough to burn 480 calories. That’s awesome, but that burger and fries meal can carry around 1,190 calories.
Stop rewarding yourself with food. Use something else to incentivise yourself to exercise (like the reward of exercising itself). Using junk food is like taking one step forward and two steps way back.
Reason #3: Counting Calories, Ignoring Sugar
So let’s say you aren’t rewarding yourself with food, and doing your best to keep your diet in check. You keep track of everything you eat and at the end of the day, when you tally it up, you’re right at (or maybe even below) your daily caloric needs. For reference, that’s about 2000 calories a day for the average woman, and 2500 a day for the average man (that’s just for reference — there are a lot of factors to determine what you personally should consume).
That being said, there are still people who carefully follow their caloric intake and don’t see the results they want. And that’s because calories don’t tell the whole story.
Many trainers and nutritionists agree, that just as (if not more) important than calories is the amount of sugar you’re consuming per day. Sugar contains two molecules: glucose, which is vital to life and produced naturally; and fructose, which is not part of metabolism and not produced by humans.
Too much sugar means the fructose gets metabolized by the liver, where it’s turned into fat and then secreted into our blood.
And trust us, it’s way easier to go over your daily sugar allowance than your daily calorie allowance. Sugar is added to just about everything these days, and it can be difficult to maintain a diet under your recommended daily value (which is 37.5 grams for men; 25 grams for women).
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, though. It just takes a little bit more work. If you have a nutritionist, talk to them about your diet, and look into the foods you bring into your house to make sure they won’t hold you back from getting the toned body you’re looking for.
Reason #4: Working Out TOO Hard
This one falls under the category of “too much of a good thing.” Yes, even exercise has its limits. And if you go too far past them, it may be difficult for you to get your ideal body.
Now, this may sound contradictory to the “keep pushing yourself, don’t give up” mentality you normally hear (including from us), but there is a difference between “giving it your all” and “giving more than your body can handle.”
See, your body doesn’t build muscle while it’s working; it builds muscle while it’s resting. So working out every single day doesn’t give your body the time it requires to recover and create hypertrophy (muscle growth).
That doesn’t mean you can work out for one day, take the rest of the week off and expect to see results. Again, it’s all about balance. Find that sweet spot where you’re pushing yourself while giving your body the downtime it needs, and it will reward you with strong, jacked muscles.
Reason #5: Sitting All Day
An article we did a while back showed some cool alternatives to the sitting desk. The reason we wanted to introduce these options is because, frankly, sitting has some wholly unwelcome side effects. It’s no wonder sitting has been dubbed “the new smoking.”
The Mayo Clinic reports extended sitting throughout the day is linked to death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. In addition to that, long periods of sitting is connected “with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.”
And in case you were thinking “No big deal, I’ll just compensate with an extra-intense workout,” no such luck: The Mayo Clinic says a few hours of moderate or even vigorous exercises a week aren’t enough to offset these risks. So even if you’re using one of our fat-shredding Tabata workouts, too much time plopped on your keester is enough to make all that hard work for naught.
The alternative is simple: more movement throughout the day. Don’t spend too much time in front of a TV or behind a desk. A few breaks of walking and stretching out your body can make all the difference. Anytime you finish an email, or reach a commercial break, take a stroll around the office or house. It’ll get your body used to the idea of moving, so you can continue climbing toward your goal.
Now, if you do all of these things, and still don’t have that cut, lean, muscular look you’re working so hard to get, you probably feel pretty discouraged right about now. Well, we’ve got one more reason for you to consider, and it’s probably the most important one…
Reason #6: You Actually ARE Reaching Your Fitness Goals
Whoa, we really pulled a fast one on you there, eh? But what exactly do we mean?
It’s simple. You could be doing everything right: getting enough sleep, watching your caloric/sugar intake, allowing your body to recover AND keep your lounging around to a minimum. So what gives?
This is probably the toughest reason for people to accept: we all have different bodies that change in different ways in different speeds. You may be on a fitness journey with a friend and you notice they’re seeing results much faster than you.
Studies have found that different physiologies lose weight faster than others when exposed to low-calorie diets. The same goes for exercise, too — specific genes have shown to be more adaptive to workout regimens than others.
It’s not fair; it’s just genetics.
Does that mean you should just throw in the towel? Heck no! As we’ve said before, you cannot compare your fitness journey to anyone else’s. That’s critical. You can only compete against yourself, by being better than you were the day before.
It’s called your fitness “journey” for a reason. There are ups and downs, peaks and valleys. You’re bound to run into roadblocks. Heck, you may feel like you’ve hit one before you’ve even had a chance to get started. But we know you can get there. And we want to help you. And identifying some of the lesser known culprits holding you back from achieving your goals can be a big step.