How to Overcome Obstacles Beginners Face in Their Fitness Journey

Fitness is a profoundly personal experience. It is not a one-size-fits-all journey. Often, it is marked with a series of trial and error. When the initial excitement fades, many are unprepared to handle the obstacles beginners face when starting their fitness journey. If left unmanaged, these obstacles can ruin not just your motivation to exercise and diet but also your progress.

Studies have revealed that over 50% of people who started their fitness journey will give up and return to their old habits within 6 months! Considering the risk versus the reward ratio, it may be hard to comprehend why most of us give up on the potential benefits of living a healthier and more fulfilling life.

In this article, we will discuss the obstacles beginners face in their fitness journey and how to overcome them so you can stay consistent and build an effective fitness routine.

Only about 27% of people who set their new year goals related to diet and exercise manage to stick to them for over a few weeks. So why do so many people abandon fitness ambitions despite their high initial motivation?

It turns out it has something to do with how we perceive the fitness journey itself.

Behavioral studies confirm that outside pressures or ideas of future achievements do not translate to sustainable behavioral change. It is the fulfillment in the process itself that creates lasting habits and routines.

For example, research on exercise adherence in new gym members found intrinsic rewards like enjoying workouts or reduced stress more fulfilling rather than extrinsic perks like seeking praise or improved appearances.

The key to achieving any goal is loving the process itself.

1. Lack of consistency

In reality, the fitness journey is a graph with peaks and valleys, and fluctuating factors such as motivation and frustration are just part of the process. Setbacks due to injury, illness, or life events will happen, but maintaining consistency and progress over the long term relies on mental resilience, adaptability, and self-compassion during the downswings.

Motivation fades, and your mood fluctuates. It's critical not to base your habits and goals on feelings and emotions. Procrastinating or failing to meet our set schedules leads to negative self-talk, which can cause a downward spiral in your fitness journey.

Fortunately, the same happens when we honor our commitments to ourselves and follow through on our goals— it leads to upward momentum to stay consistent. It's all about showing up regardless of your excuses.

How to overcome it:

  • Develop a routine and build habits related to your fitness goals.
  • Build small habits such as regular morning walks, movement snacks, or recreational sports with friends.
  • Create a workout schedule and meal plans, and follow them.

Over time, these things will become second nature and almost feel automatic.

We must move to feel like it, not the other way around.

Beginners are often too eager to accelerate results, so they quickly fall into an all-or-nothing trap with their fitness regimen. They launch ambitious workout routines. They push exhaustion daily while dramatically restricting their diets. However, this strategy often fails to overcome different mental barriers to exercise due to fatigue and lack of proper recovery.

These actions often backfire and lead to burnout and workout plateaus, where they eventually fail to make significant gains for months or even years. This polarized approach undermines consistency, which is essential for progress.

How to overcome it:

  • Determine if your current workout plan or diet is sustainable based on your lifestyle and fitness level.
  • Don't rush. Good things take time.
  • Gradually build your exercise endurance through consistency.
  • Prioritize getting enough macronutrients based on your current goals rather than restricting yourself.

Small and sustainable steps lead to long-term success.

Knowledge is power. No pain, no gain mindset is overused and actually misleading. Without proper fitness knowledge or guidance, enthusiastic beginners often feel frustrated by limited progress or suffer from overuse injuries, which can be prevented with adequate preparation.

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Progress requires a strategic plan, not simply relentless effort. Lack of knowledge early on sabotages sustainability. It is also essential to understand that physical health and science constantly evolve, and new discoveries are being made regularly.

How to overcome it:

  • Research and learn from credible fitness websites and videos.
  • Download the Gymaholic app.
  • Stay tuned to the latest research.
  • Work with a personal trainer to maximize your gains.
  • Have a training partner or accountability buddy.

Invest in learning. The more you know, the better your results.

We get it. The gym could be an intimidating space at first. But you'd be surprised how people in the gym are more than willing to help you in your journey and actually support your goals. After all, the gym is a community of people with similar goals in life —- to better themselves!

Anxiousness is a normal response of our brain to unfamiliar situations. But don't let it consume you. Remember that you are on this journey for yourself and not for other people.

Here’s a quick quote: Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.

How to overcome it:

  • Show up no matter what. The more you are exposed to a particular situation, the more familiar and easier it becomes to deal with.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises when you feel fearful or anxious.
  • Determine your deepest "why" and use it as your internal drive.
  • Join an online or local community.
  • Consider group exercise classes.

Here’s a beginner plan for women:

And for men:

Without visible results of your hard work, your motivation tends to decline much faster.

Here's the truth: exercising and following a diet is a grind. It is a slow, gradual, but incredibly rewarding process. It is important to remember that fitness results are based on a complex combination of factors such as your effort, diet, genetics, age, and fitness levels.

Your body undergoes an invisible transformation when you work out and eat healthy. Your cholesterol levels decrease, your heart rate slows, your mind becomes clearer, your thoughts turn more positive, and your risk for chronic diseases declines.

Even if your muscles don't pop or your weight stays the same after a few weeks, know that your efforts have a tremendous impact underneath your skin, both physically and mentally.

How to overcome it:

  1. Take a weekly photo of your body. (front view, side view, and back view)
  2. Don't mind fluctuations in your weight.
  3. Use smart scales, and do not rely on your BMI.

You can’t change what you can’t measure.

Celebrate your wins. Be proud that you are doing something for yourself to become a better version of you. Acknowledge your efforts and always practice self-compassion.

Remember that fitness is not a one-time goal. It is a lifestyle and a life-long journey. Don't overthink the short-term rewards.

There's a high chance that people who begin their fitness journey will give up in the first few weeks of exercising and dieting because of the inevitable obstacles they will encounter. Obstacles such as lack of consistency, fear of being judged, lack of guidance, and an all-or-nothing mindset can set you up for failure and derail your progress.

Whether you are a beginner, a seasoned athlete, or simply a fitness enthusiast, it is essential to be mindful of these barriers and learn how to overcome them to succeed in your fitness journey.

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Bert Bauzon is a licensed physiotherapist specializing in spinal care and sports rehabilitation. He writes articles and books about exercise science and health care.

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