I don’t think it’s a shock to most people when they hear that the majority of people who set a new year’s resolution, don’t see it through even the first month. In fact, according to a recent Forbes article released in 2023, less than 19% of people who set out with their New Year’s Resolutions actually stick with it. Which means, out of 100 people who start the year off with a goal in mind, 81 of those people will have quit before the end of January. Now, these are just surveyed numbers, so this isn’t a golden rule but this is a decent indicator of what’s happening as a whole.
The real question comes down to WHY are people quitting so quickly?
How come most people fall off from their fitness goals?
Well, there could hundreds of different reasons or excuses for this (some valid, some not so much), and I’ve seen/heard a lot of them through my 12-year experience as a Personal Trainer in Edmonton, but below I’ve narrowed these down to simply looking at 8 different reasons why people fall off.
Now keep reading to the end, because I have a few free tools that can help you stay on track for your goals, whether it’s your New Year’s Resolution or otherwise!
1. Lacking Motivation
This might be the biggest driver of why people don’t follow through with their goals, they simply lack motivation to get going. This can come from a few areas such as not having any urgency to complete the goal (no time frame) or their goal not really meaning much to them, essentially just setting a goal to set a goal.
But what I find is a big issue for most people when it comes to motivation, is they wait until the FEEL motivated, rather than just getting started. The problem with motivation, is that it’s a feeling. Like any feeling (like happiness or sadness), we don’t feel that way all the time and if we are relying on that motivated feeling to get going, unfortunately we will fall off.
The way we can really build sustainable motivation, is by seeing progress.
This means we need to take actions towards our goals (regardless of how we feel), because that action will result in progress, which leads us taking more action.
I always love to use the example of cleaning your house here. We never really feel like doing a deep clean of the house, but once we start doing a few of the smaller things (and seeing how nice it looks), we tend to get motivated to tackle some of the bigger projects.
Remember, action leads to results, which leads to motivation!
2. Doing Too Much at Once
I think many of us are guilty of trying to do too much all at once, especially when it comes to our fitness goals. In an effort to reach their goals, I’ve seen clients jump into their fitness routine head first. They try to lower their calories, remove junk foods, add in resistance training and cardiovascular training, try to drink 3 litres of water, and sleep an extra hour – all at the same time. While this might SEEM effective to get the best results possible, it’s actually a detriment for a couple reasons.
Firstly, this approach will lead to burn out. Trying to change so much at once is exhausting both mentally, and physically.
Secondly, if we hit a plateau and we are already doing everything we possibly can – what else is there to do? We can only add so much activity, and lower calories so far before it becomes a big detriment to our life and health.
My recommendation is to start with 1-2 habits to build off of initially and see how far you can get with just those two things before hitting a plateau. Try to see the best results possible, while changing the least amount in your lifestyle. Which leads to my next point…
3. There Is No Game Plan
This one could be lumped together with doing too much at once, but I feel like this deserves its own section. See – it’s one thing to set a goal, but it’s another one to make a game plan to see the goal through to the end.
See, to avoid doing too much at once, we can set up a schedule for when we want to start implanting different habits into our lifestyle.
For example – Your goal is to lose 10lbs
Week 1 – Week 3: focus on resistance training 2x per week, and increasing daily steps by 500
Week 4 – Week 7: Add an extra 500 steps per day, and reduce calories by 200 daily.
Week 8 – Week 11: Add an extra glass of water daily, and increase steps by 1000 per day
And so on.
The benefits of building out a game plan is that it gives you a set time to start implementing different habits to your lifestyle to help you mentally prepare for the upcoming changes, and plan out how you’ll achieve them. Continue to reassess along the way to see how you are progressing.
4. Lack of Time
I know what you’re thinking I’m going to say…
“We all have the same 24 hours”
But that’s not what I want to get at here, because realistically we don’t all have the same 24 hours. A working single mother of 2 doesn’t have the same 24 hours as a 22-year-old single individual. We all have our different time priorities, and we have to prepare for those accordingly.
Even the smallest changes, can make huge impacts on our lifestyle, how we feel, and the results we see. We don’t need to be on the “perfect plan” – we just need to do what we can with the time we have.
If someone is struggling with time, it’s important to use the time available as best as we can. For some people this might simply be getting a 10-minute walk in daily, drinking more water, or getting 1–30-minute workout in per week. I’ve seen many times where when people commit to at least a small amount of time in their week, they slowly are able to make more time in their schedule for their health and wellness as they go on.
5. There Was a Slipped Up
I’ve heard it many times – things were going so well, until that one weekend that threw me off.
We seem to get caught up in a pass/fail mentality when it comes to our health and wellness, and that just simply isn’t how it works. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will have peaks and valleys when it comes to their health and wellness.
But it seems like when people are starting off, they feel like they’ve “failed” if they had dessert, some alcohol, or missed a workout. This one “failure” can cause people to spiral back into old, unhealthy habits when we look at it this way. Instead – we need to focus on the positive side of things that we ARE doing.
For example – Someone who was drinking one pop a day decided for the new year, they were going to cut out all pop consumption. This person goes two weeks without a pop then finally “slips up” and has one.
This person might feel like they’ve “failed” their goal, they’ve actually made some great progress. While normally they would be having 365 cans of pop a year, they were on pace for only 26 cans of pop that year. That’s HUGE progress!
One slip up doesn’t mean all the progress someone makes flies out the window, it’s just a stumbling point, which is naturally when making a habit change. The important part here is to have a short memory, forget about the slip up, and keep moving forward with the best effort possible to make the change in your lifestyle.
6. Injuries Flare Up
Injuries happen. Through life, as we get older, our body has more wear and tear on it – which leaves us prone to getting injured or having aches/pains flare up.
Unfortunately, most people who set goals to be more active in the New Year will have been inactive for longer periods of time which can leave us prone for more injuries. Whether we haven’t been active for long periods of time, or we still think we can move like we did in high school 20 years later, the injury bug can flare up. These injuries lead people to fall off from both their physical activity and the habits they’ve been doing to support them.
It’s totally understandable, because most of us live in a “all-or-nothing” mentality. If we can’t do it all, what’s the point of doing the small stuff… which is a flawed way of thinking. If we physically can’t be as active as we want to be, it’s a great time to focus on the non-physical to get our body feeling better – sleep, hydration, nutrition, etc.
Facing physical adversity isn’t ideal. Actually, it really sucks (I’ve had my fair share of injuries in recent years), but if we take the proper steps to get back on our feet, and at least do what we can in the meantime – we will come back stronger than ever!
Working with a Physiotherapist, Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, Chiropractor, and Family Doctor can all help us get back on our feet, heal properly (and quickly), and ensure we don’t fall off from reaching our goal.
7. A Perceived Lack of Results
I don’t think it’s much of a secret that many of us will simply look at the scale when it comes to our overall success when it comes to a fitness plan. Many people get started in the gym with the goal of losing weight – whether it’s for health reasons, or for better self-confidence. And there is nothing wrong with that – however, if this is our ONLY measure of success, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
See, weight is a tricky metric. We fluctuate in weight nearly daily due to different factors like what we eat, drink, our physical activity, stress levels, sleep quality, hormone production, and so much more. In a day I’ve personally fluctuated nearly 10 pounds! We also need to keep in mind that we’ll probably gain some muscle through our workouts while we are dropping body fat, which can lead to neutral changes on the scale.
When we get so hyper focused on just the scale, we tend to miss out on a lot of the positive benefits that come from our actions. When we get stronger, it makes our daily movements easier for us, we feel more energetic, and we sleep better (just to name a few). We can fit in our clothing better, have better digestion, be in a better mood, and so much more that the scale doesn’t measure.
So, when the scale doesn’t move – it’s not time to quit – we may just need to take a look around us at the other positive benefits that come from focusing on our fitness.
8. Not Sure What to Do
This one is quite simple – there’s a lot of people out there that have big goals they want to accomplish for a variety of reason, but simply don’t know where to start.
There’s so much information out there that it can be super confusing to know what to do.
Should you be cutting carbs or fats?
Should you do cardio or resistance train?
How much exercise is enough?
How much water should you drink?
How much sleep should you get?
Not to mention the silliness you can see on social media that demonizes almost everything from eggs to vegetables…
The other problem with these questions is that it also very much depends on where you are stating at. The answer varies from person to person, and really is goal dependant. This is why it can be important to invest in a coach when getting started. In just a few weeks of working with a Personal Trainer, Nutritionist, or Lifestyle Coach you get direction towards your goals catered to you and where you are starting.
Yes, you can google most answers these days, but it’s one thing to have the information, it’s another to implement it correctly and in a way that works best for you.
Which leads me to a few tools that I want to give you today, for free.
First, is a free 2-week trial of my DIY Fitness – Gym Program – this is two weeks of structured workouts for you to do at the gym. While this does require a bit of familiarity to exercise, it’s a great tool to use to get started. Click Here To Start
Secondly, I want to give you personal access to my Lifestyle Assessment Tracker – and give you a free review of areas you could possibly work on moving forward.
For this, please e-mail me directly at Rich@RKAthletics.ca with the subject line “8 reasons”
I hope you found this beneficial, and I hope it helps you stay on track to accomplish your goals this year! Feel free to share this with a friend if you found it useful
Most importantly, I hope you choose to live life to the fullest!
Owner – RK Athletics
Edmonton Personal Training