You’re trying really hard at the gym. Why are you not seeing results?
“Why am I not seeing results from my workouts?”
A quick Google search will tell you that you’re not working hard enough — exactly what you don’t want to hear when you’ve exhausted yourself trying everything you can think of to get “in shape.” (Whatever that means).
The more you Google, the more ads you’ll see, all of which say the same thing: This product is the newest, best, most mind-blowing, fat-burning, detoxing supplement. But why should product Z work if products A through Y didn’t?
The wellness and fitness industries employ gnarly marketing tactics that make you believe you’re not enough. You don’t have enough discipline. You don’t have willpower. You need products X, Y and Z to achieve the results you so desperately want.
Your answer will never lie in some magic pill, and while working harder may be the answer for some, “move more and eat less” is an over-generalized, over-simplified answer we usually disagree with.
Want the real reason you’re not seeing results from your workouts? We’ll do you one better. Here are six reasons why.
1. You’re exercising instead of training
This point is for all you fitness enthusiasts and program hoppers. You know the drill. You hop from program to program, deny yourself rest days, mix programs together, and jump into random group fitness classes. Or maybe you show up to the gym each day and choose whatever exercises you feel like doing.
These are examples of random exercising. Random exercising yields random results and often lead to injury and burnout. Specific results require two things: specific, measurable goals and a specific training plan to get you from where you currently are to where you want to go.
It’s not just about showing up to the gym. At a certain point, you must engage in training you can assess, progress, and reassess over time. If you’ve been exercising consistently and you aren’t seeing the results you truly want, read more about training versus exercising to see if this is your missing link.
2. You’re miscounting calories
Maybe you count calories; maybe you don’t. We are not here to say you must count calories or macros and stick to a strict dieting regimen (in fact, our stance is quite the opposite).
However, we do want to point out that most people have no idea how much food they eat on a daily basis. If you don’t count or measure your food at all, it’s too easy to throw in an extra cold one or pick at snacks throughout the day. This sort of mindless eating can nix your hard work if you aren’t careful.
If you’re in the camp that does count calories, there’s a few common errors that could be leaving you quite far off the mark:
We repeat: We are not saying calorie counting is a prerequisite to results, but we do want to point out common faults for people who do count calories or macros.
3. You’ve tried to bypass the basics
Quit with the higher order thinking. This goes for lifestyle habits, training, and nourishment. Many times, people come to us thinking they need to go keto, count calories, start intermittent fasting, use the latest and greatest supplements, explore the newest way of training, and buy the most expensive recovery tools. Stahhp.
You will never be too advanced for the basics. No one is, not even elite athletes. Build your foundation. If you are not sleeping seven to eight hours a night, drinking 60 percent of your bodyweight in ounces of water each day, eating quality foods, managing stress, or getting in basic strength workouts and mobility training on a consistent basis then you do not need to practice higher-order, meticulous skills like meal timing.
Higher-order thinking comes into play for athletes and fitness competitors, but for the average Joe that wants to look and feel their best, it is completely unnecessary. In fact, it will likely take you far off the path of success because these tactics are simply too advanced for where you are—which leads us to our next point.
4. You’re not consistent
Doing too much, too fast is the most common reason for a lack of consistency. You likely don’t need to do as much as you think to get the results you want. Perfectionism and hustle culture ultimately sock you in the face and leaves you flat on your butt, beating yourself up over and over in hopes to get the results you crave.
You start over with a crash diet every Monday, you hit the gym hard the first week of every month, and yet end up further from your goals than you were in the first place.
In order to create long-term, sustainable results you must create long-term, sustainable habits — and that doesn't happen overnight.
Quit believing the lie that change requires drastic measures. Creating change needs to feel so easy that you can do it even on the worst of days. That means you need to start where you are and implement habits that you feel 100 percent confident you can do each day, week, and month. These small, consistent actions stack up over time.
If you think, “well yeah, but I am consistent,” we challenge you to an experiment: Track your water, food, sleep, stress, workouts, and daily step count for the next 30 to 90 days. Log everything accurately and honestly. And then tell us how consistent you are.
5. Your body is stressed the frick out
You’re chronically stressed out from work and life, on a daily caffeine frenzy, and stuffing your face with sugar because your cravings are out of control. To top it off, you’ve chosen HIIT workouts as your method of training.
Stress increases hormones such as epinephrine and cortisol. These are needed in fight-or-flight situations, but when your body is constantly producing these it can cause some serious issues, including hormonal imbalances, headaches, weight gain, sugar cravings, blood sugar spikes, mood swings, problems sleeping, digestive issues, and decreased immunity.
We often see people in this state start to train harder because they don’t know what else to do to drop unwanted weight. This only amplifies the issue because training is a stressor in itself.
In order to get your body into a more balanced state, you’ll need to place your focus on sleep, hydration, food quality, and getting parasympathetic — not on more intense training sessions. This could look like practicing some breathing techniques or heading out on unplugged walks in nature.
Less truly is more in some cases.
6. You’re on the yo-yo train
Binge… restrict… diet hop. “Oh shit, I fell off the wagon again. I’ll start again on Monday, but this time I’m going to try _______.”
It happens all too often. You fail to stay consistent with one thing so you develop “shiny object syndrome” and think the next workout program or nutrition plan will be “the one”.
Justin Beiber once said, “The grass ain’t always greener on the other side. It’s green where you water it”. Steward the challenge in front of you. Change takes time and consistency. If you don’t give one thing a solid, consistent shot, you’ll never know if it works for you or not.
Keep in mind our thoughts on consistency and being sure not to start out too hard, too fast. Remember the power of less.
Smarter Sweat takeaways
It’s really all more simple than you think. Less is more, consistency is king, you are enough, and you are capable of achieving the results you long for.
Take a step back and vow to keep it simple and consistent. If you need help knowing where to start, check out our 12-week programs that help you develop basic, foundational habits.
If you’re ready to work with your very own coach, request a free consult today.
By Ashley Pfantz
Ashley is the cofounder of Smarter Sweat, certified personal trainer and professional health and fitness coach. She also owns Smarter Sweat I.D., an individualized fitness, nourishment, and lifestyle coaching business where she coaches all of her clients remotely.
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About Smarter Sweat
Smarter Sweat is a fitness company built from the ground up by fitness experts Amanda Capritto and Ashley Phantz. Amanda and Ashley are both dead-set on cutting through the clutter of the fitness industry and providing raw, real, utterly honest information about fitness and wellness.