Why There is Only One Reason That Destroys Your Fitness Goals
I have a lot of colleagues that are in the fitness industry. Many of these friends are owners of gyms and facilities and I’m fascinated with how they motivate their members. Motivation is the basis of all mental toughness and needed to achieve your fitness goal. These owners care about their members and want full facilities, not people who sign-up and never go.
Sadly, most facilities are the opposite.
They do not care if you show up, in fact, they rely on people NOT showing up, that way, the gym never gets too crowded, and they still collect your dues every month. Gyms strive to have 10x as many memberships than people who regularly show up.
I feel that I’m constantly asking facility owners what keeps people from achieving their fitness goals?
The answer is surprisingly simple and there is only one reason. It happens in almost every instance of people dropping out! And if you could just overcome this one thing, I guarantee you’ll reach your goals.
This blog post is not a life hack or some navy seal mantra. It doesn’t even involve getting up at 4:30 am or taking cold showers. Heck, it doesn’t even involve setting your fitness goals or having a goal, (but this does help).
Unfortunately, this one reason is the same reason why members of A.A. stop attending, or why addicts continue to relapse and do not continue in recovery.
It is a phenomenon called: Adherence Violation Effect.
As a former university professor, every semester during the first few days, I would tell my students how they could guarantee a “B” in my class. They would perk up for this! I told them all they had to do was show up to every class and they would get no worse than a “B.” All bets were off however if they missed even one class.
I was not into giving away grades, I was just demonstrating that tenacity is more important than talent, and if someone showed the discipline to show up to every class, then they could not help but absorb enough information to succeed.
Looking back, maybe I set them up for failure.
Although, not many failed my classes. I was an awesome professor, as you can tell. These were sport psychology classes, fun, applicable to real life, but certainly not calculus.
Maybe I set them up because A funny thing happened when a student would eventually miss a class. They would miss another! I was so keen on this phenomenon of people who missed one class that I kept track of it. Only about 20% of the time did a student ONLY miss one class.
This was the adherence violation effect in action.
We adhere to our goal until we violate it. We adhere to how we view ourselves until we violate it.
We violate it when we miss a workout class! We violate it when we give in and eat that piece of cake.
and then? BAM!
We miss again or we eat the whole damn cake!
It’s NOT about the VIOLATION, It’s about the CONTINUATION!
The shame and guilt of messing up hurt a lot. It often hurts worse than quitting because when we quit, we don’t have to keep returning to the scene of the crime. When we quit, there are no more painful reminders or people of how we messed up. The saddest part though is that we aren’t quitting on ourselves, we are quitting on who we want to become.
However, this is the one reason that destroys your fitness goals.
It is pervasive, check out health club attendance in January and then in March. Over 50% of people drop out within 6 weeks. Once they miss once, they miss again…and again…and again…
The science behind this one mistake or lapse is abstinence violation effect. All it takes is that one mistake or slip up and the mentality becomes a huge loss of confidence. We remind ourselves of all past failures and how once again, we are not good enough, We utter destructive thoughts like, “screw it, I blew it”, “see I knew I couldn’t do it”, ” ahh, here is another thing you messed up”, or ” see you knew you couldn’t do it.”
And this is after we MISS ONE TIME!
Look, messing up is a bruise NOT a tattoo!
It’s like getting a flat tire, we don’t leave the damn car on the side of the road or blame the car. We fix it or get it fixed!
How would you explain your vacation to California if you got a flat tire on the way, so you turned around and headed back home?
It’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback. The one workout you missed or one piece of cake that you ate does not define you. If you miss, it’s how you respond to the setback. Can you learn from it and simply show up the next day? That’s it.
If you are able to overcome this one reason, then you’ll achieve your fitness goals. period!
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the mental toughness books.
Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.