Once you’ve made a committed decision to jump into a lifestyle of health and fitness, you know that you’re going to be in for a tough transition period. That’s the time where your determination will be tested, when you’ll find out whether you really have what it takes to see it through.
Right up at the top of your challenges will of course be the hard work that you’re going to have to put in at the gym, and the discipline you’re going to need in cleaning up your diet and foregoing the lovely treats that got you into your shabby state to begin with.
But what you may not realize is that there are a number of hidden and unexpected surprises awaiting you that will also test your resolve. Most people are totally unprepared for these, which is why, when they do occur, their efforts can easily get derailed as a result.
Here are 6 nasty surprises that you may not have counted on in your decision to get fit:
1. People Won’t Understand
What would you think if a loved one, say your sister or your best friend, told you that she had decided to become a nun? I bet a million questions would run through your head.
“Why? Why would she give up her wonderful life and everything in it, her fun, her freedom, her friends, her income, her ability to have a family – everything, just for that? Does it mean that much to her? Is it really worth giving up everything for? Seriously? Is she crazy? Why is she doing this? Has she lost her mind? Maybe she’s suffering from depression. Maybe she’s gay!” And so on. You get the idea.
Well, to a lot of people in your life who matter, deciding to adopt the fitness lifestyle wouldn’t be seen as too far different from deciding to become a nun (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
Those closest to you would be genuinely concerned for you. Believe it or not, they’d actually wonder whether it would be healthy for you. They’d worry that you’ll start acting all crazy like getting up at 6:00am and jogging out the door in bright clothes, voluntarily eating vegetables, quitting drinking and smiling a lot. They’d be petrified that your new habit will sooner or later pull you in, and you’ll start taking steroids and even protein powder!
Your friends won’t see past the effects it will have on your social life. No more drinking, no more smoking, no more eating out, no more partying . . . no more fun. They simply won’t understand the wisdom in there being anything worth giving all that up for.
The bottom line is, yes, sacrifices will need to be made. But for you, the rewards will be worth it. You’re the one who’s decided to give up a little today to get a big reward tomorrow by feeling great about yourself, not them. So they won’t understand. Deal with it, and get used to hearing the word, “why?”
2. You Will Lose Friends
There are certain times in life where we find out who our real friends are, and it’s unfortunate that deciding to embrace the fitness lifestyle is sometimes one of them.
Your real friends may not understand your choice, but they’ll respect it and learn to accept it. As for your other friends who don’t understand it, it will be too much for them to take, and they’ll be gone.
For some it will be simply because they no longer see you as a carefree, fun person that they can “hang out” with. If that was all they had connecting you to them then hey, it’s no great loss.
For others, however, it will be deeper and more personal than that. Some of your friends will actually resent your decision and feel very uncomfortable with it. In truth that will be because you threaten their perceived reality that it’s OK be average or even out of shape and unhealthy. It’s OK to be lazy and not make the effort to look after your own body. It’s OK to abuse your body and not worry about the consequences.
By taking a step towards health and fitness you shatter that reality and cause them to feel bad that they’re not doing the same. But those feelings often won’t manifest themselves as guilt in themselves, but rather as resentment towards you and a perception that you think you’re better than they are.
The important thing is that you be true to yourself and do what you feel is best for you. Your true friends will always support you, and besides you’ll soon enough make new friends with common interests in fitness.
3. You Will be Criticized
Those that don’t understand your choice to get fit and who feel threatened by it will sometimes resort to criticizing you, either to your face or behind your back. That includes strangers. You only need to look around at some of the comments on social media pages of fitness identities to see that choosing to better yourself physically will ruffle feathers.
Criticism can sometimes deflate your confidence and potentially derail your ambitions. You simply can’t allow that to happen.
It’s important to always keep in mind that any criticism you’re faced with is in no way a reflection on anything you’re doing wrong by choosing the fitness lifestyle. You’re free to make your own choices and other people are free to live their own lives and ignore you.
If they choose not to its only because your actions are forcing them to face their own insecurities, and that’s uncomfortable to them. Don’t give up on your dreams just to make others feel better about themselves, you don’t owe that to anyone.
4. You May Well be on Your Own
When you’re on a journey of weight loss or fitness, one of the greatest things is support and encouragement from those around you. Even better still, having a training partner that’s going to help keep you accountable, motivated and on track is invaluable.
If you’re lucky enough to have either of these, be grateful and make the most of them, by all means. But understand that you can’t allow your success to depend on them. There’s only one person that you can rely on 100% and that’s yourself.
The support and enthusiasm from friends and family that you may have been lucky enough to enjoy at the beginning of your journey can gradually fade over time. They can grow tired of your new “obsession”.
On top of that, those around you can become your most dangerous saboteurs. They’ll tempt you regularly with snack foods, sweets, invitations to dinner or drinks, and so on. They’ll try to convince you that “just one” isn’t going to kill you. Most often these individuals aren’t intending to harm you, but just trying to show you kindness, not realizing that they’re actually making your job tougher. You can’t really hold that against them, but you do need to be prepared to deal with their temptations.
Your workout partner can turn out to be not quite as reliable as you first thought. Things can change in her life that lead her to reassess her priorities and suddenly going to the gym is not so important anymore. The last thing you need is having to carry someone who’s slacking, where you then have to motivate her as well as yourself.
A whole number of things can happen to upset your happy status quo. That’s life. So while having the support of others is great, if you pin your success on it then you’re putting yourself in a very precarious position.
You can’t control those around you, and you can’t predict what their mindset will be tomorrow. All you know for sure is that you’ll still be there tomorrow with your goal, and that’s all you can truly depend on. As far as support goes, hope for the best but plan for the worst. Come to terms with the fact that you may well be on your own on this journey.
5. Your Relationships Will Get More Complicated
Being in a relationship with another fitness enthusiast is great because you’ll be able to understand and support one another. Being in a relationship with a non-fitness person however, has implications.
Entering into a new relationship perhaps isn’t quite so bad since your new partner will know what he’s getting into. Even so, as time goes by it can potentially cause some friction if he begins to feel that your fitness lifestyle is taking too much of your attention away from him. In addition to that of course is the effect that your diet will have upon your social life together, which he may tire of to some degree.
These issues will potentially be worse when you embark on a fitness journey whilst in the middle of a relationship since your partner may feel as though he didn’t sign up for any of this. It can also lead to feelings of inadequacy in him as he sees you improving physically while he’s left behind.
From there a whole swag of emotional complications can arise, such as a sense of abandonment, jealousy if he feels as though he’s no longer worthy of you, feelings of resentment towards you, and even loss of trust if he believes that you’ve become the target of other men’s attention.
The whole area of fitness and physical appearance is a very personal one for people, which is why your relationships can potentially become complicated as a result. This shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing fitness and becoming the best you can be, however, if that’s what you truly want.
Allowing your partner’s lack of tolerance and understanding to prevent you from being the person you want to be can itself cause a strain on your relationship as it may lead to feelings of resentment on your part.
Be prepared for these complications on your journey. There are no easy answers to this one but your best chance of overcoming them successfully is through open communication and perhaps even a little compromise by both of you.
6. You Will Risk Losing the Plot
Once you begin to see the results of all your efforts to get into shape, it can become intoxicating and start to consume a large part of your time and attention. This in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important that you constantly check yourself to ensure that you’re maintaining an acceptable and healthy balance with other important areas in your life.
What exactly the right balance is for you, only you can say. Others can and usually will give their opinions about what is or isn’t too much, but their opinions don’t matter. What does matter is that you find your own happy place where fitness creates the most positive overall influence on your life.
Without keeping an open mind about how your fitness life is working for you however, you run the risk of it potentially going astray without you realizing it. You run the risk of losing the plot and becoming a fanatic.
I recently read a comment on social media where a very well-known fitness coach expressed his strong disapproval of a comment made by a woman, also on social media. In this post the woman proudly announced that she ate a pre-prepared meal from a Tupperware container . . . on her wedding day!!
Even though, as I said, it’s up to each individual to decide how to maintain the best balanced lifestyle, I think most people would agree that this is somewhat extreme. Making a decision such as this on arguably the most important day of her life can’t easily be justified, and in my opinion is definitely the result of a mindset of someone who’s taking things too far.
Be honest with yourself in assessing your actions and ask yourself sincerely whether you’re becoming or have become a fitness extremist. By ignoring the possibility altogether, you run the risk of this becoming a reality for you. By keeping an open mind, on the other hand, you allow yourself to decide rationally how to make your fitness lifestyle as positive one as possible.
Have you personally ever experienced one of these or any other negatives as a result of your fitness lifestyle? Have any surprises come your way that have threatened to derail you from your fitness goals?
Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear about them!