We’ve all been there. You see a picture of a ripped, lean, muscular male fitness model or a toned, glowing and healthy female athlete on Instagram or a fitness mag and you suddenly decide it’s a great idea to get back into shape…..again. Thing is, it’s the fifth damn time you’ve decided to go for a run in the morning or commit to overhauling your diet. So why is it that you can’t seem to get very far into reaching your goals? What separates you from the countless other people you see on social media who seem to be keeping their physique 365 days a year? The answer is you, or more accurately your own personality, habits and quirks. So let’s take a look at some of the more dominant personality types around, why it’s wrecking havoc with reaching your goals and what you can do about it.
1. The Procrastinator
The Procrastinator is someone whose motto always seems to be “I’ll do it later”. They’re the ones who will have a long day at work and decide that they’ll work out tomorrow. After all, rest is more important and it’s only one day right? Of course, there are plenty of other similar excuses including “I’ll work out later tonight”, “I’ll wake up early to do the workout tomorrow” or “I’ll do half a workout now and do the other half later”. Except that “later” never really eventuates and over time, this procrastination just gets worse and worse.
The Problem – The main problem with the procrastinator is lack of urgency. Procrastination as a habit is generally broken when panic sets in trying to make a deadline. Things like getting healthy and doing exercise really have no deadline though, which makes it all the more easier to leave it for another time.
The Fix – Simply put, in order to halt procrastination in its tracks, there needs to be some sort of urgency. That comes about by making plans and being made accountable if you don’t meet those plans. That ramifications for not meeting your plans though have to be large enough for it to result in a keen sense of urgency, otherwise it won’t work. For example, if you gave your friend $1000 and told them it’s theirs unless you go to the gym 20 times a month, very few people would actually fail. While that’s an extreme example, just remember though, that it doesn’t have to be long term. Once good habits develop, you’ll find it easier to maintain. In addition, you’re in control because it is you that sets your goals.
2. The Dreamer
The Dreamer is the person with lofty goals and high ambitions. They see the body or result they want and if they don’t achieve it, they get extremely disappointed and the motivation just disappears. These are the people who tackle it head on, trying everything under the sun to achieve that result. They can also be quite fickle with their goals.
The Problem – Dreamers suffer from the problem of expecting instant gratifying results. If they don’t see a set of abs or weight loss within a couple of weeks, they just lose drive or move onto another goal, be it health related or something else. They are the ones who want results, but may not possess the necessary patience to attain it.
The Fix – As Dreamers are a results driven group, they need to know that their efforts are actually doing something. As with Procrastinators, Dreamers need to set themselves goals, most of which are short term in order to measure their progress. So if your goal is for weight loss, you need to set small, achievable targets, even if they’re as small as 500g or so. A good dose of realism is also important. Knowing that yes, it can take years to achieve your ideal physique or level of fitness will put into perspective the smaller steps you need to take. A good way to maintain performance for Dreamers is to not be bored. There are plenty of ways to achieve an ideal physique, so if regular gym workouts aren’t working, intersperse them with a competitive sport or yoga or other activities that can help you get closer to the goal.
3. The Time Poor
Most people are a little bit time poor, but these guys take it to a whole other level. Whether they work a crazy amount of hours or are parents or carers with other people to take up all of their time, most of the time, they’re simply too tired or have other more important things to attend to.
The Problem – The issue for the Time Poor is pretty obvious, they just don’t feel like they have the physical time to do exercise or achieve their fitness and health goals. Hell, they might not even have the time to think about getting their ideal physique let alone actually coming up with a plan of action.
The Fix – For many of the Time Poor, managing your time effectively might be the solution. Sometimes, having so many things to do can have you running around like a headless chook, flitting from one task to the other because you’re just trying to get things done. Proper planning so you can fit 10-30 minutes of exercise during the day, even if it’s not continuous can make a huge difference. For others, it may be about getting crafty with the type of exercise that you do. If you can’t hit the gym, it’s time to find ways to get active during work or at home with the kids. Multiple bouts of small effort can make an impacting change over the long term. And for those who still think they don’t have enough time, it might be time to really sit down by yourself or with someone and figure if prioritising your health last is something you want to continue to do and examine the potential impacts it might have later on in life.
4. The Do-It-All
The Do-It-All is the person who puts 200% effort into their workouts and their nutrition. It’s go hard or go home for these guys and girls and they tackle everything with gusto. They are the ones who will spend 2-3 hours on websites learning everything they can, employing new techniques each training session and prepping all their meals of broccoli, sweet potato and chicken on the Sunday.
The Problem – While this group seems to be the most competent of all the groups, they also run a greater risk of suffering from burn out. When you put that much effort into one single endeavour, you can either get bored or tired quickly, experience a rut or plateau faster or simply neglect other important aspects of your life. In the end, a lot of the Do-It-All personalities will simply just let go of their goals and have an extended break from it all until the next time they decide to give it another try.
The Fix – Interestingly enough, one of the most common fixes for burnout is to exercise. However, when the problem is too much exercise, alleviating this situation will involve taking a massive step back. While it’s important to put in effort, you don’t need to go all out each and every time, because getting your ideal physique or hitting your ideal weight will take time. Redefining and resetting your goals into smaller, more achievable tasks is a way to help put your level of effort into perspective. Another fix is finding and focusing on things you do enjoy, whether it be exercise or food. Broccoli, sweet potato and chicken is simple and effective, but if you get to a point of hating broccoli, you’re essentially sabotaging any chance of success. Eat and exercise smart, not boring.
5. The Compensator
Compensator’s tend to put in a good effort in the gym, but they also often compensate that effort outside of the gym. Whether it be big nights out on the weekend, to having less than healthy snacking behaviours to deciding a cheat meal is fine, after every training session, compensators have as many healthy habits as unhealthy ones.
The Problem – Compensators simply love the good things too much to give it up. They have the mentality that just because they’re putting in some good effort in the gym or into their nutrition, that they can balance that out with some unhealthier behaviours at other times. Compensators love balance, but perhaps a little bit too much.
The Fix – It’s essential for anyone looking to boost their health long term to be able to treat themselves. The idea of a treat though is that it’s a sometimes thing. Once you treat yourself constantly though, it becomes a habit. And you can’t expect to get anywhere quickly if you counteract all your healthy habits with less healthier ones. In order to change, Compensators need to first prioritise their healthy habits first. Reminders every so often of what you’re trying to achieve such as pictures or alarms can help keep you on track. Slowly changing your behaviours is the key to achieving a more optimal balance. Whether it be increasing access to healthier foods in the office for snacking or having a glass of water between every drink, these simple changes can result in dramatic results over time.
Achieving Your Fitness Goals
Your current or next attempt at achieving your ideal physique or weight might be your first or your tenth, but it can also be the one that is the most successful. Knowing and taking charge of the bad habits or personas such as those described above will help you avoid mistakes that lead you astray or sabotage your efforts. In addition, fostering the good habits of persistence, patience, proactivity, pragmatism and planning are the final pieces of the puzzle to help you finally meet your goals.