You’re always motivated. You work out nearly every day. You eat only healthy food. You count your macros. You weigh your portions. You measure your body fat. You lean out and bulk up. And always with 100% discipline and a progress-only mindset.
This is the life of a fitness professional.
The truth is, no one really talks about the truth behind long-term fitness and nutrition. Most fitness professionals in the industry make it look easy. They show you all the good — only the W’s, all the progress. And not many share the behind the scenes, dark and dirty truth of it all.
The truth? We’re not always motivated. No one is. Sometimes we’d like to stay in bed all day. We preach consistency in workouts, but we aren’t always consistent ourselves. Life happens, we don’t always get that workout in. We like junk food and eating out just as much as you do. Even though we may not show those 1200-calorie burgers we’re putting down, trust me, it’s happening. We lose weight and put it back on to an extreme. It can take a toll on one’s mental state and can be very uncomfortable. I’m sure anyone can relate to feeling uncomfortable with your body.
Finally, it’s not always progress that we find. It’s forward, backward, up, down, circles and in between. We, too, will occasionally lose sight of our goals and have to take a few steps back — we are all human.
The difference is, no matter how many steps we take back, fall down or experience instances where we lose sight of the goal — we keep going. You get back on that horse and keep riding all the way back to the barn. Have I wanted to ever give up? Yes. The good thing is there are so many ways to deal with the burnout and a pocket full of keys to unlock that motivation and consistency:
- Take a break. Rest days are crucial to long-term fitness and health. Your body needs days off from training to repair the damage you’ve done during your workouts. Working out creates tears in your muscles and breaks them down. Rest/recovery days are when the magic happens. Your body repairs these tiny tears and your muscles are built up bigger and stronger than before. I would suggest taking at least two rest days a week.
- Be flexible! Unless you’re prepping for a fitness show or some other athletic event, allow yourself some flexibility in your nutrition. Restricting yourself 100% of the time from the foods you love can result in developing a bad relationship with food. Furthermore, it can potentially lead to binge eating and/or other eating disorders. Most people fall off track from their “diet” because it is too restrictive. Start out simple. Stick with fresh, whole foods and lean meats. For example: fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken, turkey, rice, oats and eggs. Allow yourself to enjoy a meal or two out of that realm. Indulge in some pizza, a cheeseburger, a scoop of ice cream, etc. Trust me, it will not ruin your progress.
- Set goals you can actually achieve. If you have never worked out, don’t start with setting the goal of going to the gym six days a week. Start with three days a week. Become consistent with this for a few weeks and then increase the goal. Having a sense of accomplishment is key to sticking with it. If you set a goal of going six days and consistently only show up for three, you’re unlikely to feel good about that. If you set a goal of three days and consistently hit that goal, you are much more likely to stick with it long term.
- Stay away from six- or eight-week challenges, waist trainers, detox teas and fat burners. All of these things are short-term, quick-fix marketing ploys to take your money. I’m going to let you in on an industry secret: Six- or eight-week challenges are the most efficient path for fitness influencers to generate maximum cash. Will they get you rapid results? Possibly. Will those results be sustainable? Probably not. It allows the coach to churn out “transformation” photos to promote the next challenge. Ninety-nine percent of participants will either burn out during the challenge or rebound after. Waist trainers do not help you lose fat. One more time, waist trainers DO NOT help you lose weight. They make you sweat. You lose water weight and guess what? You will instantly gain all that water weight back within a few hours or less. Detox teas and fat burners also DO NOT help you lose weight either. They make you go to the bathroom excessively and minimally suppress your appetite. Neither of these things are healthy in long-term fitness.
- Get comfortable knowing it’s okay to miss your workout or eat that cake. We are all human. Life happens, things come up and we can’t always be perfect 100% of the time. It’s okay. It will not derail you. Move on. Tomorrow is another beautiful day.
Long-term fitness and nutrition success does not equate to perfection and only progress. It’s not a single-goal achievement. Long-term fitness and nutrition success means you keep going. You reach one milestone and move toward the next. You may backtrack, you may have bad days, lazy days, productive days, fun/happy days and days you struggle. We are all human. We are not perfect. It’s all a part of the journey. Keep going.
Meagan Germaine is a competitive bikini athlete in the WBFF and NPC. Germaine is passionate about empowering women to be mentally tough, learn how food is life and how to be their own body goals. Germaine currently works as a women’s fitness coach and is a certified elite trainer at her company, Meg’s Body Shop.