There was a time in your life when you said to yourself, "This is it." You are tired of how you feel, you have excess body fat, and you are just over how you look.
It's okay because you took the right steps and started exercising. You started eating better meals and started doing things you needed to do to ensure progress along your fitness journey.
You did it all right by going slow and steady. Years pass and now you are at your goal weight.
What gives? You are healthier but you still feel the same about your body. Ugh, look at those arms... What's up with my calves?
You aren't as happy now that you reached your fitness goal... But why? You knew that when you reached your final goal that you would feel happy and secure about life. But that's not always how things play out.
I'm not telling you this to keep you from wanting to achieve your goals, I want to help improve the likelihood that you are actually happy when you reach them. Fortunately, there are a few reasons why we can't just "be happy" with what we've accomplished. Let's check them out.
Dissecting the Reality Behind Fitness Goals
Marketers Know How to Push Our Buttons
The weight-loss industry is $60 billion dollar industry. They market new products and miracle diets to us constantly.
They cash in on the fact that you hate your body, and they do it well. You see the commercials and ads for products and you see a happy, confident, fit person and you think, "Wow, I want to exude confidence and look like that."
The thought is that self-love is just on the other side of losing a few pounds. Trust me, it isn't.
I'm not saying that you won't feel better about yourself and enjoy a better quality of life; I'm saying you will want something more when you achieve that goal. More muscle, bigger lifts, get striations, etc.
If you don't adjust your thoughts about yourself, transforming your body will not give you what you're looking for.
You Had Unrealistic Expectations
You're 50 pounds overweight and you just know how your body is going to look once you strip that fat off. You'll be lean, look reasonably appealing naked, and you'll be able to walk into any room and command attention.
While this can certainly happen, you have to realize that feeling whole, connected, and happy comes with an acceptance and love of yourself. Simply losing weight and keeping the same self-thoughts as you do currently will devastate you. You'll look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what happened.
If you expect that simply changing how much you weigh is going to make you a different person, you are setting yourself up for some disappointment. Keep those unrealistic goals and bust your ass to achieve them. But read on to see how to get the most out of your experience.
You Didn't Create Sustainable Habits
You immediately quit eating bad foods, quit drinking soda, and started eating salads. You started counting how many carrots you put into your salad, weighing your meats to down to the point, or you only eat steamed broccoli and chicken.
You've jumped your cardio up to 3 hours per day and you have a stopwatch to time exactly when to drink your post-workout shake.
One year later, you are starting to gain weight again but don't understand why. Those salads you used to eat now have turned into 1000 calorie meals instead of a 300 calorie side dish. You tweaked your knee while on your 3-hour cardio session and you've now cut it down to an hour a week.
You've created unsustainable habits and now have to restart everything.
A slow and steady lifestyle change is what you need. You change how you eat, what you eat, how you think about eating, and how you exercise.
Creating a balanced lifestyle takes a lot of changes, but look at the long picture instead of the immediate results.
You Focused on Appearance Only
I mentioned something about this earlier, so let's expand on it.
Your shirts don't fit right, your jeans suck to wear, and you would rather not have to hide around mirrors. So you start your journey to lose 20 pounds. You've lost the weight and now you don't like this, you don't like that, and you are wondering why you even did this in the first place.
The mentality and thoughts you hold upon yourself are more important than a number on a scale or what size pants you wear. Whether you are 300 pounds and 18% body fat or 140 pounds and skinny-fat, if you don't find some acceptance of your body... you'll never be happy.
I'm not saying you shouldn't be critical and try to fix things. I'm not saying that you have to be in love how you look. I am saying that you need to accept and love yourself so that you can fully reap the benefits of reaching your goal.
You Turned Life Into One Big To-Do List
Along with unsustainable habits, you've effectively had to micro-manage every aspect of your life. It's tiresome and it is unnecessary... But you don't know any better.
Staying vigilant on the habits that got you to your fitness goals are great, but when it becomes an obsessive-compulsive situation, it ruins everything. It strips the fun and spontaneity from your life, and you are stuck "on the grind."
Life isn't fun anymore when you have daily weigh-ins and worrying if you've done exactly 45 minutes of cardio today.
Life is one big journey, enjoy it.
How to Get the Most out of Your Experience
Coming from someone who's taken this journey a couple of times... This is all coming from personal experience.
The first thing you need to do is accept who you are. Love your body, love your flaws and work on those flaws, but accept them. If you can at least accept who you are and enjoy your strong points, your weak points start to disappear.
Next, I would recommend making lifestyle changes that you are willing to do for the rest of your life. Things that won't make your life mundane and make you obsess over everything you do. Drastic changes can certainly get you to the goals you want, but they won't last. Think lifestyle change, not diet.
Work on your qualities that you don't like. Are you introverted and wish you could be more comfortable around people? You can start doing that now while working on your goals. You may even find someone on a similar journey.