These are 5 things that I’ve told myself, and your have probably told yourself too, that have kept me from reaching my potential with my health and fitness goals.
- Lie: You have a slow metabolism, that’s why you’re gaining weight.
- Lie: Your physique is a result of your shitty genetics.
- Lie: You want to work out, you just don’t have the time.
- Lie: You’re doing the same thing as your fit friend, but you’re not getting results.
- Lie: You should be able to consistently make gains if you train consistently.
Lie: You have a slow metabolism, that’s why you’re gaining weight.
I’ve heard this a ton, especially in overweight people. People often say that they are gaining weight and they don’t even eat that much. Or they used to eat A TON in college and they never got fat then. So is your metabolism really slower, or is there something else going on?
Truth: You don’t have a slow metabolism…you’re just overeating.
I think the idea of fast and slow metabolisms needs to go away. It’s not especially helpful for understanding what goes on when you eat food. And it takes the accountability away from your own actions when you’re trying to lose or gain weight.
Lie: Your physique is a result of your shitty genetics.
I’ve made this excuse plenty of times myself, especially when I was younger. I was “chubby” as a kid, and then I got incredibly skinny later in high school. And even though I was losing weight, I wondered why I didn’t have bulging biceps and rock hard abs.
“Welp, must be my shitty genetics,” I thought. Well how does this actually work? Are you trapped by your genetics in the body you have?
Truth: Your body looks a certain way due to a number of factors, mainly your genetics, diet, exercise, and general health.
Ok, so genetics certainly play a role in what your body looks like. I happen to have really wide, pointy hip bones. As a guy, it really just makes me look like I have love handles all the time–even when I’m at a very low body fat percentage. Your bone structure is a genetic factor that you can’t change.
However, outside of those things, your physique is also determined by what and how much you eat, how and how much you train, and what your lifestyle looks like.
Diet’s Impact on Your Body Composition
Diet is by far the most important influence on your body composition. This shocks a lot of people who assume that training is the biggest factor.
Caloric Intake vs. Energy Output
You can train crazy hard and think you should be losing weight, but if you’re consistently eating in a caloric surplus you’re going to gain weight. Conversely, if you lift weight consistently but you are consistently in a caloric deficit, you’re not going to pack on loads of muscle.
Outside of caloric intake, macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) also play a role in whether you develop muscle or store your energy as body fat. Most people actually chronically under-consume protein.
The widely distributed number in the fitness industry for daily protein requirements is about 0.82 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. This means a 175 pound male would need just over 140 grams of protein per day. This is the amount of protein in approximately 2.5 medium chicken breasts.
Our body needs dietary protein to supply amino acids for the growth and maintenance of our cells and tissues. Protein can also play an important role in supporting healthy metabolic function for weight loss. When you eat sufficient protein you can actually lose weight while maintaining your muscle mass.
How Your Training Shapes Your Physique
There are quite literally endless ways to exercise and train. However, I’ve found that people often don’t train in ways that aligns with their fitness and physique goals.
When I was younger, I really wanted to be jacked and have a six pack. However, I thought that I just needed to lose weight to reveal my muscles and abs. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I did tons of cardio (mostly running and cycling), which just led to me getting skinnier and skinnier with very little muscle mass.
I essentially developed the physique of a marathon runner or professional cyclist. My upper body and arms were very underdeveloped. And no matter how much weight I lost, I couldn’t lose the last couple pounds of fat on my stomach to reveal my abs.
Train in a way that will lead to your aspirational physique.
It’s not that I wasn’t motivated or disciplined, I just wasn’t training in a way that aligned with my goals. I wanted to look like a super hero, or like a lead character in an action movie.
I was willing to put in the work, and do whatever it takes. However, I just didn’t know what that was. I should have been lifting weights a 3-5 times per week, eating sufficient protein, and focusing on putting on muscle in my upper body.
Your Lifestyle Habits Outside of Diet and Fitness
I’ve found that even if you’re absolutely crushing it in the gym and your nutrition is perfectly dialed in you can still hold yourself back from making progress. If you fail to get enough high-quality sleep, you drink too much, or your mental health isn’t good these can act as barriers for making progress.
Read More: How to Overhaul Your Lifestyle for Health
Lie: You want to work out, you just don’t have the time.
The number one reason that I hear people give for why they don’t exercise is that they just don’t have time. Everyone is different, so for many that’s probably true. But for others, they’ll say they don’t have time, but spend 2 hours every day watching Netflix or scrolling through TikTok.
Truth: Fitness just isn’t a priority for you.
If your friend asked you to go to dinner, would you have time? Could you wake up 30 minutes earlier? If a relative called you on the phone, could you talk for an hour? If the answer to those questions is yes…then you have the time, you just aren’t making your fitness a priority.
Make your health and fitness a priority in your life. Get motivated. Get disciplined. Do whatever it takes to make it happen. Here’s a little video to help you get fired up:
Lie: You’re doing the same thing as your fit friend, but you’re not getting results.
I’ve gotten incredibly frustrated by this before. I’d go to the gym every day, and my friend would show up half the days as me. But somehow, he was always stronger than me, and always leaner than me.
Truth: You may be doing the same workout, but your friend eats better, drinks less, and sleeps more.
The truth is, when it comes to training everyone’s body responds differently. There are a number of factors that influence how much improvement you see, including:
- Your Training Age
- Your Nutrition
- Your Sleep and Recovery
- Your Activity Levels Outside the Gym
Lie: You should be able to consistently make gains if you train consistently.
When you first start working out, it’s fairly easy to see improvement quickly. You’ll start getting a lot stronger after just a couple months. You’ll notice new muscles growing in places you haven’t had them before. And this is a great feeling!
However, these gains come as a result of you stressing your body in the gym. As you get stronger and fitter, you’ll need to keep adding more stimulus to keep the same gains coming. And unfortunately that can’t go on forever, or we’d all look like Mr. Olympia bodybuilders.
Truth: Training produces diminishing returns. You can’t make noob gains forever.
Beginner gains are great, but as you train longer and longer you’ll see diminishing returns from the same exercises. As a beginner, you may be able to add 5 to 10 pounds per week to your key compound lifts (squats, bench press, deadlift, etc.). After you’ve pushed yourself for a couple of years, 5 to 10 pounds may be a realistic goal to add in a few months.
This isn’t all bad though. You can continue to improve in the gym by continually increasing the weight you lift and the number of reps you lift. This concept is called progressive overload. You have to stress your muscles to promote muscle growth. Over time you’ll need to increase the amount of work your muscles do to get them to keep growing. The best way to do this is to stick to a training plan, track your lifts, and increase your weights as you get stronger.