I think it’s fair to say that most of us are trying to improve our overall fitness, health or physical appearance in some way. You might be trying to build muscle, lose weight, get leaner or run that 5km a little quicker.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained around fitness and nutrition over the last few years, and I often get people asking me for advice about how to get into better shape. Which is really great and I’m always happy to help.

The challenge is, having good intentions and setting yourself a goal is one thing…but actually achieving that goal can often be much more difficult. These are my top 5 reasons why people don’t achieve their goals when it comes to getting into better shape. If you can be conscious of these and avoid some easy mistakes, then you’ll be well on your way to achieving your objectives.

1. Not listening properly to (the right) advice

Seeking advice from someone knowledgeable (whether it’s a personal trainer, a fitness magazine or whatever) is one thing, but you need to actually put it into practice. I’m amazed by the number of people that ask for help but then go and do almost the exact opposite of what they’ve been told.

2. Trying to starve yourself leaner

This is a classic mistake made by people who are trying to lose weight – deciding to go on a crash diet where they barely eat breakfast, have a shake or a yoghurt for what should be a main meal at lunch and then just generally continuing a severe calorie deficit. I’m not an expert nutritionist but I can tell you that if you do something like this it is not sustainable, you’ll find yourself craving bad foods even more and ultimately you will just get frustrated by your lack of progress.

Personally, I eat probably twice the amount that I used to when I was in worse shape, but the foods I do eat are generally fresh, lean and free from artificial ingredients. Check out my post on clean eating for some tips.

Guy in the baseball cap in the gym

3. Not staying motivated and keeping to the plan

Perhaps the most important reason why people fail to achieve their goals. So many people get disheartened too early, especially if they don’t see radical results, and that causes them to lose heart, fall back into bad habits, and ultimately fail. Real progress is a marathon not a sprint. If you’re just starting out then think of the process like building a house; you’ve got to put in some hard, dirty work first building the foundations and getting the basics right. Remember that the benefits of the process are back-end loaded – you have to keep going until the end to see the finished article. And you have to keep disciplined around what you are eating and drinking.

4. Not “believing in the process”

Following on from Reason 3, you must KEEP FAITH that the fitness and nutrition plan WILL work. So many times when I was training to get “photoshoot ready” I found myself questioning whether what I was doing was really going to work. I felt like I wasn’t getting lean enough, I wasn’t gaining enough muscle. But each time my personal trainer kept telling me to keep faith in the process and you’ll see at the end. He was right.

5. Your workouts lack intensity

So you get up a sweat in the gym? You think you’re working hard? Think again.

Lifting bigger weights in the gym but doing so with poor form, spending 3-4 minutes resting between sets whilst you check your Instagram account and select the next song from your playlist, running on the treadmill at the same speed for the last 6 months, completing your weekend run in the same time each week. If any of those sound familiar then you need to up your game. You won’t see progress unless you push yourself. But don’t kid yourself – choosing that heavier barbell but not completing your reps properly is not how you make real gains. Stay disciplined and you will multiply your achievements.

Good luck!