The Top Three Reasons People Fail
This article is based on my clinical experience, over ten years, observing about 1500 clients, and in speaking with friends and family about their efforts. It is also based on some research around human behaviour. But the claim that these are the top three reasons why people fail, is my opinion.
- Not having correct technical knowledge
For example, if you don’t know how to lift weights properly, you are not going to succeed at fat loss. Or if you’re trying to curb cravings, don’t turn to nuts or quinoa for your protein. In fact, never select those foods as a protein source. Yet people do it every day.
Despite us living in the information age, the average person has no clue how to eat or exercise. In fact, in the past three years I’ve had three doctors in my practice that lacked the basic nutrition and exercise information required to succeed.
2. Being too hard on one’s self
This is a modern-day plague.
Let’s say I have a client who, in the past month, has:
- learned how to deadlift
- ate vegetables with breakfast for the first time
- has lost an inch of his waist
In other words, fantastic progress. And if the client makes no further improvements, he might add 10 years to his life and maintain a healthier weight forever.
So I’m jumping for joy but the client is sad about what he could have done better. WHY??
It’s called positive-negative asymmetry and it’s a leftover survival mechanism. It developed to help us remember where predators are (Negative) vs. pretty flowers (Positive). It is misapplied when we only think negatively about ourselves. Ancient practices like yoga believe that we need to “stand on guard” against negative self talk, and I completely agree.
But if the client doesn’t do their daily positive-thinking practice, and continues their self-flagellation, they drop out, because they can’t see the awesome progress they’ve made. No human will continue to do a behaviour if there is no reward.
I’ve seen this trait across all populations.
If you don’t celebrate the little things, you will never achieve a big thing. If someone gives you a compliment, don’t reject it.
3. Leaving the Path that Was Working
Now let’s take a client who has lost 50 lbs and maintained it for a year. Awesome. She got there from being organized, training with a group, and being mindful of appetite. Next thing you know, she thinks she can train on her own, and/or she stops doing the little organization habits she built up.
Then a few lbs of fat creep back on and the client doesn’t do anything about it. Maybe insert a bit of guilt (see above) instead of getting some help, and boom. All the weight comes back.
By the way, this is normal human behaviour. Humans are really good at forgetting their past feelings (forgetting how bad it felt to be unorganized and out of shape). Dr. Phil calls it “Distance Dementia, mmm K?”
Humans also look for shortcuts. See my blog on painting a wall!
So please try to remember the things that worked. Remember how bad it felt to be the younger and not-as-wise you.
Nip these backslides in the bud by going back to what was working in the past. If that doesn’t work, bite the bullet and book a check-in with your coach. It might be the best $100 you’ve ever spent. Also don’t forget to get a fitness buddy.
Thank you for reading.