Most of us are always on a quest to get healthier and feel great, but sometimes it can seem that despite our best efforts, we aren't making any progress. Unfortunately, even if you adapt new habits, there tends to be a plethora of sneaky things that can sabotage your fitness efforts, and if you're not aware of what these are, you likely won't get the results you want. "Getting fit" means something different to everyone, of course, but more than anything it means paying attention to your health in all areas, including whether or not you're eating enough vitamins and nutrients, how much you sleep, and especially your mental health.
"Many people bite off more than they can chew when it comes to goals in general, but particularly fitness goals," says Sarah Jacobs, co-founder of The Wellness Project NYC over email. "We're living in an 'all or nothing' world right now, and the truth is, that it doesn't work. Rather than setting realistic, achievable goals, too many people set unattainable ones, then when they falter, they scrap the whole thing."
Setting goals for yourself, hitting the gym, and eating well are all great, but you also want to make sure you also catch those little everyday habits that aren't the healthiest. If you find that you're having trouble getting as fit as you would like, consider these 11 potential culprits that may be sabotaging your efforts to get in shape.
1. You Drink Vitamin-Enhanced Water
Drinking water enhanced with vitamins and minerals might seem like the smart option, but you're better off just sticking to plain old water. "Many of these waters are either missing or have less-than-optimal levels of essential vitamins and minerals," says Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RD, CDN to Bustle over email. "They also have way more sugar than nutrients."
2. You Rely On Protein Bars
"Most protein bars are heavily marketed as being healthy, but some of them are way worse for you than a candy bar," says Schapiro. Choose bars that are low in sugar and with as few ingredients as possible. "To ensure you’re not getting a candy bar in disguise, look for a bar that has 15 or more grams of protein and 3 or more grams of fiber," she says.
3. You Drink Too Much Alcohol
"Nothing thwarts a workout like a hangover," says Jacobs. "Drinking in moderation is key. If you have to hit up the happy hour, cap it at one or two so you still feel like getting sweaty the next day."
4. You Force Your Workouts
"Exercise is about so much more than calories burned," says Jacobs. "There's a huge mental element that exists which contributes immensely to overall wellbeing. For that reason, it's important to find activities you like, rather than suffer through ones you hate so you stay motivated to stick with it."
5. You Go Big Or You Go Home
Trying to do intense workouts that completely exhaust you can quickly lead to burnout. Switch things up with shorter, hard workouts and longer easier ones. "Throw in some yoga classes in the middle of marathon training," says Jacobs. "Or try a HIIT class amid some pilates. You'll be surprised how the different workouts end up supporting each other."
6. You Don't Sleep Enough
You might only associate sleep with your energy levels, but how much shut-eye you get each night can have an effect or more than just how awake you feel. Not getting enough sleep can increase your cravings for unhealthy junk foods, according to research from UC Berkeley, and it can prevent you from having the energy to get to the gym.
7. You Refuse To Cook
Staying fit becomes much easier when you cook at home. According to a study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, people who at home frequently eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less. "If you know how to cook, you will gradually dislike the highly processed, commercial, fast food and junk food you see everywhere," says Jan Patenaude, RD, CLT over email.
8. You Don't Drink Enough Water
Water can do more than just quench your thirst. "Getting dehydrated affects us on so many levels," says Patenaude. One study from the Journal of Nutrition found that even mild dehydration can cause moodiness, fatigue, and problems concentrating.
9. You're Only Focusing On The Physical
Getting fit is more about just seeing changes in your physical body. "A healthy mental state is imperative to sticking with fitness and treating your body well," says Jacobs. Realize that breaking a sweat is good for your mood, anxiety levels, motivation, creativity, and general mental health. Test out meditation or yoga, use runs for clearing your head — not just reaching a mile-goal — and realize that your mental health is just as important as your physical health."
Getting fit is about changing your lifestyle, so the more healthy habits you adopt, the better you'll feel.
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