Do You Have Unrealistic Expectations About Exercise?


One thing us humans are really good at is saying one thing while doing another. Never is this more pertinent than when it comes to exercise. Think of how many times you have heard someone say (or have heard yourself say),” I really need to improve my fitness level” or “I really want to lose weight…I should start exercising.”

You would think though, that if that person really wanted to lose weight, wouldn’t they be doing everything they could to make it happen, including exercising? If this sounds familiar to you, what happens between what you say you want and what you actually do seems to be two different stories.

One reason many of us talk the talk without walking the walk is our expectations about exercise are unrealistic. Sometimes we think that if we put ourselves out and do some exercise for a short while we will be done with the problem and it will just go away.

When you expect one thing and get something entirely different, you wonder why you bother at all and there are few things in life that we have such a distorted view of what it should be doing for us than exercise. We expect:

• To lose excess body fat quickly. Many people expect to see results and the fat drop off after just a few weeks of exercise, even though that isn’t realistic for most of us.

• An exercise program to be temporary. We think we can exercise for a few weeks or months, quit and it will somehow stick and the problem is solved.

• Exercise to change our body the way we want. Despite the fact that most of us have clear genetic tendencies as to where we store body fat, we still think that doing certain exercises will reduce problem areas.

• To see results on our imagined timetable, not our bodies. Body fat loss involves many factors, some beyond our control. But once you know you are burning more calories than you are eating, your body responds in its own time.

• To be motivated every single day. You will not always feel like exercising. It is up to you to keep yourself motivated using whatever tools, goals and resources at your disposal. You need to expect there will be days when you need to ‘dig deep’.

• Exercise to be easy and ‘fun’. Making any real changes to your body takes hard work on a consistent basis. It means overloading your body so it can adapt by increasing the metabolism (the bodies engine) by becoming stronger and slimmer. Low-intensity workouts are great for health, but won’t be as effective for fat loss.

• Expecting low intensity activities to do the job. Activities like walking, jogging or cycling are not intense enough to make any change in your metabolism. Only with a proper exercise program that contains at least 60% strength training exercise and interval training will this happen to give you effective fat loss.

Being unrealistic about what to expect from exercise and eating better is just one way we sabotage ourselves, sending exercise down to the bottom of our to-do lists. You can change that by setting realistic goals and taking action to make exercise more important to you so it becomes part of your life not just something ‘you do’ when you feel you need to lose weight.

Your first step is to set a realistic goal. Make a commitment and follow through no matter what. Commit 100% of yourself and let nothing stand in your way. Hold yourself accountable and keep an exercise calendar or journal to track your workouts.

Take some time at the end of each week to see how you did. Take special note of your successes and failures and determine how you can make next week even better. Also keep track of how exercise makes you feel, not just how your body looks or more importantly what the bathroom scales say.

Remember you are working for yourself and your future. Exercise can help you lose weight but, in the long run, you will need more tangible things to hold onto while you wait for the physical results. Remember that exercise will help keep you healthy and strong and will make your life better and your future brighter as well.

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