Top 4 Mistakes Beginners Make When Starting a Fitness Program. And How to Fix Them

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I’m stuck in the midst of an avalanche of entrepreneurial shenanigans this week, so apologies for the lack of content on my end.

I do, however, have a first-class guest post from regular contributor, Shane McLean today discussing some common mistakes many beginners make in pursuing their health/fitness goals. But unlike a lot of articles with the same theme that go on and on and (and on) about what people do wrong, he actually provides some simple strategies to address things.


NOTE: Be sure to check below for a special (and FREE) 4-week program offer from Shane.

4 Mistakes Beginners Make When Starting a Fitness Program (and How to Fix Them)

Starting something is easy.

This is evidenced by the crowds that pour into every gym after January 1st.And how many of these people are still in the gym after February 1st?

Probably not a lot.

They realize that a year’s worth of debauchery is not undone in four weeks, no matter what Dr. Oz says.

No cleanse, no magic exercise, no magic pill or diet will undo all that unhealthy living.

Like anything worth doing, it takes time and patience.

If this sounds anything like you (or a friend) here are some other mistakes (besides impatience and listening to Dr Oz.) you need to watch out for when starting out your fitness quest.

And if you recognize them and made them before, here’s what to do about it so you don’t do it again. Because learning from your mistakes is a good thing.

And learning about a potential mistake (before you make it) is even better.

1. Changing Too Many Habits at Once

When you’re first starting, your gun-ho to get this show on the road.

You want to hit the gym four, no, five days a week.

You throw away your junk food and buy all the fruits and vegetables.

And you vow to drink more water and less soda. However, the more you try to change, the less those changes stick according to Leo Babauta, the author of ‘The Power of Less.’

He states:

“In order to create a sustainable habit, you need to address one habit at a time.”

His research tells us that you will have an 85% success rate adopting one new habit at a time. Trying to change two habits at once the success rate to 33%.

That’s a huge drop off.

Trying to change more than one habit at a time is more likely to lead to failure than success.

What to do instead

  1. Start small– Most people want to create big change as quickly as possible. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight start with drinking a glass of water before each meal


  1. Get hooked on your habit- That’s the point. It takes a little while to make it a habit to stick. Don’t worry if you miss a day. Just don’t miss twice. The only way to fail is to quit.

2. You Think Rome Was Built in a Day

Following from above, because you’re making all these changes at once you (may) expect instant success. You feel the weight should fly off and the scale and mirror become your best friends.

Hold your horses.

Usually, it takes 4-6 weeks to see any visible changes in your body. During this time your nervous system, ligaments and tendons are getting used to the exercise you’re throwing at them.

They’re all busy making new connections and getting stronger.  Once this period is over, you’ll start seeing some changes when you flex in the mirror. The trick here is to stick it out and be patient.

Because it doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen.


What to do instead

Realize it took you awhile to get here and it’s going to take some time to turn this ship around.

You need to celebrate the small wins along the way. Even if you walked for an extra 10 minutes or did an extra rep of an exercise, give yourself a pat on the back. This helps keep you going.

3. Making Vanity Your Only Reason

Self-improvement for whatever reason is a worthy pursuit.

The trick here is to keep it going and to find your why outside of vanity.

For example, training for a 5 k or bending over to pick up your kids without pain.

Because when vanity is your only reason and if your results dry to a trickle, it’s easier to give up and listen to your thoughts that are saying this exercise thing isn’t for you.

That’s why it’s important to find your WHY.

Because when you have a deeper reason for your health outside of vanity, you’re more likely to keep going.

What to do instead

Spend some time in self-reflection and ask yourself the 5 whys.

Here’s an example.

Why do you want to exercise? To lose weight.

Why do you want to lose weight?  Because I don’t like the way I look.

Why don’t you like the way you look? Because I’m 35 pounds overweight.

Why is losing 35 pounds important to you? Because I’m pre diabetic, have low energy and I can’t keep up with my kids anymore.

Why is keeping up with your kids important? Because they’re young and I want to be a better parent to them for as long as possible.

Boom. Now you do the same.

4. NOT Asking for Help

When everything is shiny and motivation is at an all-time high, exercise is easier. You’re going to the gym consistently; you’re eating better and you’re looking sexier.

Everything is going to plan until you hit a roadblock.

It could take the form of:

  • A fat loss plateau
  • Your hours increase at work
  • Your caregiver duties increase because of sickness
  • You get hurt or injured
  • Life and all it entails 😊
  • Bears. What out for those jerks.

Then you either think power through it or you begin to drop off your good habits, little by little. Either way, reaching your goals is more difficult.

But you still got this, right?

What to do instead

I’m all about making it easier, (on myself and clients) not harder. This is why I enlist the help of a friend and coach to write my programs. Because a trainer who has himself as a trainer has a fool for a client.

Please make it easier for yourself by asking for help.

This may take the form of asking the trainer at your gym for tips to work around an injury or exercising when you have limited time. Enlisting help from your spouse or loved ones, so you carve out a little time for yourself for health purposes.

Because when you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Wrapping Up

Starting something is easy. The follow through and the ability to keep going is more difficult. Especially when things are not going your way.

But, the only way to fail is to quit. And you’re no quitter, right?

Do you need help with your exercise, getting started or overcoming roadblocks to be your best self?

Download my 4-week program here to get you on the road to better health.

About the Author

Shane “Balance Guy” McLean, is an A.C.E Certified Personal Trainer working deep in the heart of Louisiana with the gators.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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