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The Top 10 Mistakes People Make With New Health And Fitness Goals

Everyone knows that losing weight, improving nutrition, or sticking to an exercise program are not easy things to do. 

In fact, some research suggests that roughly 90% of people fail to stick to health goals long-term. The average number of times people have given up on their fitness goals in the past is 4 times. That means they failed to achieve their goal, 4 times!

Man showing disappointment and frustration after making the top 10 mistakes when trying to adopt healthier habits.

Numbers like these make adopting new healthier nutrition and fitness habits seem nearly impossible! 

Yet, we know that it can be done. We’ve heard the success stories, we know these people exist.

So what exactly is it that these successful 10% know, that the rest of us don’t? What mistakes are the other 90% of us making that leads to our repeated failure in our health and fitness goals?

Here are the top 10 mistakes that people make when trying to form a new health, nutrition, or fitness habit. 

The top 10 mistakes people make when adopting new health and fitness goals.
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#1 – Relying On Methods That Aren’t Sustainable

This is one of, if not the, biggest mistakes people make when trying to change a fitness or eating habit. If you want to make habits that stick, choose methods that you are willing to stick to for life!

Let’s imagine you have a goal to lose weight, and you heard running is a great way to lose weight. But you hate running with the passion of 1,000 burning suns… probably don’t pick running as your method to lose the weight.

There are a lot of types of exercise out there. Try to pick one that you can imagine yourself doing long-term. 

Likewise, if you’re going to change the way you eat, do it in a way you can stick to long-term. 

The reason why crash diets usually don’t work, is that they are so restrictive that people feel like they are missing out on the best parts of life. People can only do these types of methods for so long until they go a little crazy and quit. 

#2 – Starting Too Fast

There are several things that cause people to start out too fast on a new fitness or health goal.

One of those things is the need for instant gratification. We want to achieve our goal now rather than later so we try to take shortcuts.

A lot of people also tend to either overestimate their current fitness levels, underestimate how much time and effort it will take to achieve their goal, or both. 

A common reason for quitting a fitness goal is being to sore from starting too quickly. This can also lead to skipped workouts and a loss of confidence. Both of which make it unlikely that the person will be able to stick to that goal.

So pass up the urge for instant gratification. Be honest about where you are currently at with your fitness and what it will take to achieve your goals. And start small to set yourself up for success

#3 – Setting Unrealistic Goals

This is related to mistake #2. Because people often overestimate their abilities and underestimate what it will actually take to achieve their goal, they set unrealistic timelines on their goals. For example that they can lose 30 pounds in 1 month and keep it off. 

Check out my step-by-step guide to setting SMART goals and download my free SMART Goal Setting Worksheet from the Resource Library.

#4 – Not Understanding How Habits Work

If we want to do something regularly for the rest of our lives, we have to build a habit. Certain things go into building a habit that actually sticks. 

However, most people have never really learned anything about the science or psychology of building habits.

We may have heard that it takes 21 days to build a habit, but this is not accurate. There’s a lot that goes into building habits that stick. Especially when it comes to health, nutrition, and fitness habits. 

#5 – Unable To Navigate Misinformation

Woman looking overwhelmed at her laptop

I probably don’t have to tell you this, but everyone and their grandmother seems to think they are a fitness and nutrition expert. 

There’s a lot of “bro-science” out there which has very little basis in either science, or reality. We need a myth-busters show for all that fitness and nutrition #FakeNews out there!

Using incorrect information to try and reach a goal, is a quick way to set yourself up for failure.

#6 –  Not Knowing How to Exercise Or Eat For Specific Goals

This is related to #5. Those of us that weren’t athletes growing up, probably never really learned how to work out. 

There is so much science involved in working out safely and effectively, and it differs based on your goals. This can make going to the gym a terrifying experience for many people! 

Guy dropping barbell on his head

The same goes for diet. Raise your hand if you weren’t allowed to leave the table as a kid unless you cleaned your plate. ?‍

Not to mention, as we get older, we have to adjust how we eat. As we age, our metabolisms change, and then we’ve got to figure out that out on our own too.

#7 – Failing To Plan

This too, goes back to not understanding what it will actually take to achieve our goals. It may be that we make our goals too vague. Or that we don’t make short-term goals on the way to our bigger goals. 

It could be that the methods that we come up with to meet our goals are flawed. Or that we don’t set aside enough time to put our action plan into place. Or simply that we made a goal without a plan to achieve it.

In order to avoid this common mistake, check out the following articles:

"Failing to plan, is planning to fail." ~ Benjamin Franklin Click To Tweet

#8 – Relying Too Much On Willpower And Motivation

Our society has created unrealistic expectations about willpower and motivation. 

We hear people saying “stop making excuses”, and “just do it”. Others tell us if we just had a little more willpower then we would achieve all of our goals. But this sort of attitude is based on a commonly believed myth about willpower.

[Learn about the myth of willpower & 3 things that are more important then willpower to achieve your goals.]

We also have the false expectation that motivation should be high all the time, and if we’re strong enough, we can achieve our goals.

But thinking this way, we don’t try learn the ways in which we can make things easier on ourselves. We just try to use brute force and power through. This is a big mistake. 

#9 – Not Having The Right Mindset

Mindset matters a lot when we are trying to make a big change in our fitness and nutrition habits.

If you need any proof of this, check out these videos explaining the growth and fixed mindsets.

Hand holding a brain
Mindset matters!

#10 – Can’t Bounce Back After Making a Mistake

When people slip up (which is bound to happen) they see it as a failure. If they see it as a failure, they get discouraged and lose confidence. If they lose confidence, they lose motivation. And if they lose motivation, they can’t get back on the horse, so they end up quitting. Even if they’ve only made one little mistake! 

This comes back to mindset. People with the fixed mindset see mistakes as failures. While people with the growth mindset don’t see it that way at all! Mistakes aren’t failures to them. Surely they don’t like making mistakes, but they understand it’s not the end of the world. 

People with the growth mindset recognize mistakes as learning opportunities. So instead of quitting after making a mistake, the growth minded person learns from the mistake. Then keeps trying, and makes sure they don’t let that same mistake happen again.

If you’re having trouble getting back on the horse after having a slip-up on your goal, check out the following posts:

Conclusion

The reason that ~90% of people can’t stick to their goals, is that they unknowingly set themselves up for failure. 

They often have a lack of knowledge (whether they know it or not) on how to:

  • Build habits.
  • Exercise and eat safely and effectively for their goals.
  • Set realistic goals and plans to achieve those goals
  • Sort through all the misinformation out there on the internet.
  • Take advantage of science and psychology to make things easier on themselves.

My mission is to help you gain knowledge so you can be one of the 10% to achieve their health and fitness goals!

Your Turn!

Have you made any of these common mistakes in the past? If so, you’re not alone!

I will be addressing each of these ten common mistakes and how to overcome them on this blog. So make sure you sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss out!

Making any of these 10 mistakes can set you up to fail your health & fitness goals
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Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a teacher, a coach, and an avid adventurer! Armed with a master's degree in Exercise and Wellness, she is on a mission to teach people how to build healthier habits that support the adventurous lifestyle of their dreams. There is nothing Clarissa is more passionate about than helping people get active and live their lives to the fullest!

31 Replies to “The Top 10 Mistakes People Make With New Health And Fitness Goals

  1. “hate running with the passion of 1,000 burning suns” I love this but unfortunately I can apply that to all exercise, I’m afraid, I am the world’s laziest woman! I know I do need to lose some weight and get fitter but the lure of the sofa is just so strong 🙂 Fab post though, your point about relying too much on willpower and motivation is spot on 🙂 Lisa x

    1. Thank you Lisa! I am glad you think so! This is something I feel passionate about. I plan to write a few how-to articles on what to do instead of trying to rely only on will power. Changing habits isn’t easy by any means, but a lot of times people make it harder on themselves than they have to!

  2. I think a lot of people don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to diet and exercise and can easily be swayed by misinformation. Doing an exercise they hate is also a recipe for failure.

    1. I definitely agree Nicola! Misinformation is a BIG problem, and so frustrating for so many people who have the initiative and are trying hard to learn how to take better care of themselves!

  3. Mindset and relying too much on willpower are massive ones for me. I’ve actually been really good with exercise during Lockdown, however over the Easter break I definitely ate too many treats. I probably do need to realise that as a human, my willpower will waver from time to time. The key is to keep hopping back on the wagon when I fall off.

    1. Thank you for the comment, and congrats on your persistence for your exercise goal!

      I definitely hear you with the treats. I’ve got a major sweet tooth and Easter candy is my favorite! I’m really good about not buying it at the store, but as soon as it’s in my house and I have to rely on willpower not to eat it… I’m in trouble!

  4. This is such a great post. I’ll admit that I have a hard time bouncing back after a mistake. Usually I always just fall back into my bad habits because I feel like what’s the point after I’ve ate bad once. So I need to get better at that. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment Charity, I am glad you found it helpful! It’s hard to rebound after slipping up, for sure! I found that learning about the growth mindset really helped me to get back on the horse after I’d fallen off.

  5. There is so much information out there, it’s overwhelming! Finding what works for you personally is the key. Great list and ideas!

    1. Thank you Tina, I am glad you found this useful. I absolutely agree that healthy habits aren’t one size fits all! Great point.

  6. I think most people probably have Kelsea, I sure have! I think just being aware that these are the common problems most people have, is the first step in preventing those same mistakes in the future!

  7. Lately I’m trying to change my lifestyle and I’ve seen myself making some of these mistakes. Your post was really useful and I’m sure it will help me avoid mistakes in the future!

    1. That’s great, that makes my day to hear that it might save you some struggle. Best of luck with the new lifestyle!

  8. This is a great post. Although I am not a fitness freak, this article motivates me to exercise and set some realistic goals in future. Thank you.

    1. That’s awesome Jamie! Thank you so much for the comment. When you’re ready, you know where I’ll be! 😉

  9. Wow this really resonated with me! I’ve definitely been here with fitness/diet goals but also goals I’ve had in other areas as well. Thanks for this!!

    1. Thanks for the read and the comment Caitlin! I am glad to hear that it resonates with you. Great point that these 10 things aren’t specific to just nutrition or fitness, but goals in general. I would tend to agree!

  10. I 1000% agree with everything. I know for me health and fitness has been a real struggle. The only time I truly got success from my fitness goals was when I turned it into a lifestyle instead of a quick fix. Even at that it took sooo long for me to see substantial results

    1. Great point Aurenda!I absolutely agree, if a fitness goal is going to work, it needs to be a lifestyle!

    1. Thank you for the read and the comment! I plan to focus on mindset more in some future posts because as you mentioned, I think it’s really critical for long-term change.

  11. The trouble is, I hate all exercise with the passion of 1000 burning suns. You have so many good points and I totally need to re think how I spend my energy when it comes to fitness/health goals. Diet wise I am good, exercise wise I am so so bad. And yet, I really want to be slimmer and more tone and healthy in my body. I actually feel really helpless about this.

    1. I hear you Giulia. Traditional exercise like running or strength training is very repetitive. This is why I often encourage “Adventure Fitness”. Things like hiking, bike riding, stand up paddle boarding and other things that can be done outside. These types of exercises are often a bit more palatable to people. Have you tried these types of exercise at all?

  12. The misinformation one is compounded by the fact there is way too much information on the Internet.

    From personal experience I was reading too much getting different views from ‘experts’ who contradicted each other which resulted in me never having consistent workouts and getting desirable, measurable progress.

    1. I absolutely agree that this is a big problem James. It seems that everybody and their grandmother is giving out fitness, health and supplement advice despite having no formal education or qualifications to do so. That makes it really frustrating for people that are trying to learn to do things the right way. I think most of those people sharing information on the internet have good intentions, but they just don’t know it enough to make those sorts of recommendations.

      Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your experiences!

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