Written by: Sam Theyers – Head of Fitness, Anytime Fitness Australia
“I’ll start on Monday” is a phrase I have heard time and time again from gym goers over the years. Regardless of whether we talk about our eating habits or our gym sessions, there seems to be a common behaviour that someone will have a bad meal or not go to the gym on a Monday or Tuesday, and rather than getting back on the food and exercise bandwagon on Wednesday they tell themselves “Oh well, I’ll write this week off and start on Monday”.
When it comes to gym membership sales, you see a very similar pattern as well, with more people joining the gym at the end of a month than any other time throughout the month. People then tend to try and start their new exercise regime at the beginning of the month, however they often fail to get into a routine in the first half of the month so instead of continuing to try and go every week, they decide to stop going and wait until the beginning of the next month.
There are a number of problems with this type of procrastination. From a psychological perspective, this thought pattern eases the pressure to behave for the rest of the week so the bad eating and lack of exercise continues and guilt is low because people think “I’m starting next week so I might as well make the most of this week, eat whatever I want and rest up before Monday”.
Typically a committed new gym goer will begin to see, feel and notice the changes within the first 6-8 weeks and this continues on beyond a 12 week period. However to reap these benefits, the 6- 8 weeks need to be consistent and consecutive. When someone gets the “start on Monday” syndrome, it tends to add an additional 6-8 weeks onto this timeframe which means people struggle to see any results or improvements until well beyond the 3-4 month mark.
Below are some key changes that will help prevent result-killing procrastination:
- Try to avoid more than two consecutive days without training.
- If life gets in the way, plan to get back into your training immediately without waiting for the week to refresh.
- If you have days where your motivation is low, still turn up and do something light and easy. I have found over the 17 years I have been in the fitness industry that even if someone just turns up to have a short walk on the treadmill, they’ll end up doing a little more than planned and it maintains the habit.
- Know that you may have a few bad meals each week. I often hear trainers telling clients to schedule their bad or “cheat” meals each week which I think is great advice. That way, you aren’t depriving yourself of the occasional indulgence and it gives you something to work for during the week. If you prefer to plan less and have more freedom to choose meals as your week progresses, just be sure to make a deal with yourself that you are allowed 2-3 cheat meals during the week and if you have a day where you are struggling to make a smart choice, deduct it from your weekly “bad meal quota”.
Always remember it can take a few months of consistent training before you start to see real results. Be patient and stick with it; it’s always worth it! If you follow the above guidelines, it will only be a matter of time before success comes your way.