It’s the first two weeks of 2022. Undoubtedly, you're seeing an increase in the number of weight loss product sales popping up in your news feeds, from supplements to workouts to "sweating your fat away." 

I want to remind you of something, and I think this is especially important to hear it from a personal trainer:

It is perfectly okay for you to aspire to improve your health, both mentally and physically, since the two are intricately connected. Everyone has the right to improved health, and of course you are completely free to experiment with various nutritional interventions and movement strategies to see what works for you. 

The problem is that most of these methods aren’t built to last. It can feel more exciting in the short term to grasp at the carrot dangling in front of you that promises fast results (which is a red flag). But trying to maintain an impossible routine/diet regimen that doesn’t fit your unique life is exhausting. Furthermore, it certainly doesn’t help you feel more confident in your own abilities to take care of your health. 

Many of us will or have fallen victim to marketing that isn't based on truth or is based on pseudoscience that confuses us into believing it's real. I’m here to remind you of five fitness truths for 2022 to help you navigate the onslaught of fitness and diet ads flooding your news feed.

 

Truth #1: There are zero quick fixes. 

As a doctor of physiology, I can assure you of this. Approaching fitness in a sustainable way will take time and lots of patience. 

Imagine a full roll of toilet paper that has 500 sheets. Each day that you work out, eat well, whatever it is that is part of your goal — you remove a sheet. Your eyes may not be able to tell the difference between a full roll and a roll minus 60 sheets (aka days), even though that represents two months of consistent work. 

But what happens when you get to day 250? You can really start to notice differences in the way the roll looks at this point, and you also see the 250 sheets that have been removed. Reflecting helps us acknowledge the work we've done! So even if you only see what's ahead of you or what you haven't yet accomplished, that doesn't mean you haven't put in a ton of work to get where you are today. It matters. 

 

Truth #2: Consistent progress trumps inconsistent perfection

Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? To achieve and sustain results, you’re better off working out three times per week for six months than five times per week for two weeks, followed by two weeks of inactivity, followed by another week of two workouts. Just like the tortoise, stay on the path and try to limit as much distraction (the “hares”) as possible that would prevent you from reaching your finish line.

 

Truth #3: The process isn't linear. It's like a roller coaster. 

There are days where you'll feel great and motivated, and others where you'll think it's all stupid and instead of going to the gym, you'll decide to eat a pizza. It's okay. We're emotional beings. Don't beat yourself up for it. 

I cannot stress this enough: Missing a workout or eating a cake does not, in any universe, mean that you are going to lose progress. Think of the roll of toilet paper. Once you’ve done the work (removed sheets), can you put them back on? No! You can’t “un-do” the work you’ve put in. 

I’ll also add that if you’re on a diet/fitness plan that makes you feel like the game is over for not working out for a week and eating pizza all day each day instead, that’s a plan that’s unsustainable. Red flag. 

 

Truth #4: The only way you can “mess up” is by throwing in the towel forever. 

If you skipped your workouts last week, begin again. If you haven’t exercised in any form for years (that doesn’t have to mean going to a gym, by the way), go for a walk. If you ate like a garbage disposal for a week, you didn't “screw up.” Start adding nutritious foods back into your schedule again. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

 

Truth #5: Add, don’t subtract, when it comes to nutrition

If your physician hasn’t instructed you to remove certain foods from your diet due to health conditions, this one’s for you. Reflect on the diets you’ve done in the past. I’d wager that they all involved eliminating some form of macronutrient or food type from your current diet. When we focus on subtracting, we lose sight of what’s most important: finding sustainability and balance. By focusing on adding, we give ourselves more options to choose more nutritiously dense foods. 

For example, if you really enjoy having a big bowl of pasta for dinner, can you add some fresh steamed vegetables to the bowl? Make a little noodle-vegetable party? Can you add a glass of water to your daily routine? 

 

So what’s the take home to all of this? Be the tortoise. Just keep going. Follow your path, put on your blinders and remember that every step forward is a step forward just for you.

 

Lee Ann Jolly, Ph.D., is the co-founder of Jolly Bodies Fitness where she leads the design and development of fitness programs based on the core concepts of creativity, education, imagination and efficiency.