Fix Your Fitness Follies

Overcome the workout missteps getting in the way of your maximum results.

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    Pamela Light


The girl next to you in spin class dropped 40 pounds in the last four months. You have been coming to the gym like clockwork, but the needle on the scale won’t budge. How can you get out of this rut? See if you suffer from any of these fitness follies and follow the tips to get more out of your time in the gym and transform your body.


Folly #1: The Steady Betty

You step on the treadmill and dial in the same workout you completed yesterday, last week, last year. The dumbbells in the corner are inscribed with your initials because you use them so often. You don’t understand why people need recovery days. You can come in and knock out your routine seven days a week.

How to overcome it:

If you are so comfortable with your cardio that you could knit a scarf during your workout or finish your weight room routine while sleepwalking, it’s time to ramp it up. Our bodies need to be confused and pushed beyond the comfort zone in order to change. Plug into some pumping music and push it up to a level that demands your attention.
Try an interval program where intensity increases to a level of breathlessness and decreases to a comfortable pace for recovery. Or grab a group fitness schedule and try a class that has been intimidating you. Maybe book as session with a trainer to gain momentum and break out of your rut.  

Bonus: You will get a better workout in far less time.

Give yourself a hand for exercising regularly. Showing up is 90% of the effort. Now you have the tools to drive that extra 10% home.

Folly #2: The Saver

You are afraid to push yourself. You are pacing yourself to make sure you have enough energy for the next set, the last five minutes, carrying your kids to the car, doing the dishes later that night … you name it. Class ends, and you leave with half the workout you could have had.   

How to overcome it:

The best way to break this cycle is to try not holding back. You will discover what you can do and will most likely impress yourself. You will not be that much more tired at the end of the class, but you will have walked away with a better workout and you will get stronger.  

Bonus: Your immense sense of pride may translate to more energy for the rest of the day!






Folly #3: The Muscle-Phobe

“I don’t want to do squats because my legs are already so big.” You live on the treadmill and wouldn’t pick up a weight if it was a solid-gold brick. When you get into your goal dress size, you are still not happy with the way your body looks.    

How to overcome it:

If you want to look good naked, lift weights. You will not walk out of the gym looking like a bodybuilder. Those people try very hard for that look, and it involves an insane amount of protein consumption.

Women lack the testosterone to pack on the muscle pounds, so the muscle we build will give our bodies attractive and perky curves. A cardio workout helps you burn calories as long as you are exercising, whereas a strength workout increases our metabolism permanently. The pull of muscle on bone is the most effective way to strengthen our bones and help prevent osteoporosis.  

Bonus: Strengthen the muscles of your upper back to help with good posture and make you look taller, thinner and more confident!


Folly #4: The Rewarder

You take back-to-back classes and work hard enough to sweat a puddle on the floor—but see no changes on the scale. With all of the hard work at the gym, shouldn’t you be allotted a few small indulgences? 

You treat yourself to the ice cream sundae or knock back a bottle of wine, and you are back at the gym fighting just to make up for the night before. It takes about an hour to burn 600 calories, and only five minutes to eat them back.

How to overcome it:

Fighting the battle of the bulge in the gym alone is like trying to climb a wall of sand. Every hour of sweat is a step up; every double cheeseburger a slide back.

There is no one answer for nutrition, as every body is different. But if this is your problem, figure out what you are doing wrong and find a manageable way to change it. Cutting out food in broad strokes is not a lasting approach. Tackle your diet one element at a time.

Need more veggies? Seek new recipes and slowly build a new cache of meals. Too much dessert? Buy portion-controlled sizes and decide to only have them on certain days of the week. Too much alcohol? Limit yourself to one or two to enjoy at certain social events.  

Bonus: As the small changes add up, you will forget about the way you used to eat. And remember … small changes add up to big rewards.


Give yourself a hand for exercising regularly. Showing up is 90% of the effort. Now you have the tools to drive that extra 10% home.

It takes two weeks to make a new habit, so start today. By the end of the month the new you will not even remember your old fitness follies, and the needle on the scale will be moving in the right direction.