On paper, fitness training and healthy eating is NOT complicated.
Sport & Exercise Science has already provided clear answers and methods to produce your desired outcome.
You don't need to do your own scientific experiments to figure out how to get a result.
You just need to put into practice the appropriate programme for your individual wants & needs.
So why do so many people (the vast majority) FAIL to ever achieve their fitness goals?
Obviously there's more to it than simply knowing what to do.
You are a human being...
Which makes things more complicated.
eg. Your thoughts, emotions and energy levels are not always going to be optimised for exercise and a relatively disciplined approach to food.
However, a GOOD fitness & nutrition programme takes these factors/obstacles into account...
...rather than pretending that you can simply ignore them (and BLAMING YOU for a lack of discipline when inevitable wobbles occur), a good programme will expect them, take them into acoount and provide SOLUTIONS.
In other words...
YOUR PROGRAMME SHOULD BE MUCH, MUCH MORE THAN A LIST OF EXERCISES!
There are other components that are absolutely crucial to success...
Neglect just one of them... and long-term, sustainable success is almost impossible.
Most obvious one first...
Make absolutely sure that your exercise programme is technically appropriate for your goals!
Again, choosing the right exercise methods for your goals is NOT complicated.
But that doesn't mean that you can just pick random exercises, random Youtube videos, or (even worse) simply pick a routine that you enjoy and repeat it forever!
Yes you should enjoy (or at least be able to tolerate) your routine...
...otherwise it will NOT be sustainable.
But you must make sure that your programme is specifically designed for the outcome you want.
Your body adapts to the specific nature of the exercise (physical stress) that you place on it.
eg. increasing muscle strength requires weight training with suitable resistance and rep/set range. Improving running endurance requires regular running over appropriate distances, in the appropriate training/heart rate/intensity zones.
That might seem obvious, but it's very common for mistakes to be made where the choices are less obvious or a combination of methods would be ideal. A common example is an excessive focus on long, slow cardio and/or low weight/high reps weight training for fat loss. While that technically isn't "wrong", it is not optimal. The chosen exercise programme is not specifically suited to the desired outcome.
The same applies to choosing random workouts online (often "designed" by influencers). Firstly, those workouts were not designed specifically for you and are therefore not optimised for your goals. Secondly, they are usually intended as stand-alone, individual workouts. They are not part of an individualised programme. Even if the single workout is perfect for you, how do you ensure that the longer-term, bigger picture also reflects your targets?
The good news...
It is VERY EASY to write you a programme that produces your target results!
This should not be the issue that is preventing your success.
But it is easy to fall into a comfort zone.
How do you know if your programme is effective?
Measurable results don't lie.
If you are trying to lose weight... measure your weight at sensible intervals (ie. monthly... NOT DAILY!)
Trying to get stronger... are you gradually lifting heavier weights?
Successful programmes produce measurable results.
Set goals at the start of a programme and be disciplined regarding measurements...
Make changes accordingly!
I'll repeat again...
YOUR PROGRAMME SHOULD BE MUCH, MUCH MORE THAN A LIST OF EXERCISES!
Having an effective programme is a vital step.
But even then, it only works if you actually follow it!
It's easy to say you're motivated on day 1!
(Remember, on 'Day 1' it's 'Day 1' because you've recently reached a breaking point where the discomfort of staying as you are and the desire to change something outweighs the discomfort of making that change!)
But you won't always feel that way...
As your results gradually progress...
...or as you realise that results will occur more slowly than you thought...
...or as the 'novelty' wears off etc etc...
...that naturally occurring sense of motivation WILL slowly disappear!
The excuses start to creep in...
...and the discomfort/inconvenience of maintaining your programme no longer outweighs the temptation to take shortcuts (or quit).
How are YOU going to maintain motivation?
regularly review your goals (make sure they're exciting AND realistic!)
measure progress at regular intervals (avoid or address frustrating plateaus)
form unbreakable routines and habits (you don't need to feel "motivated" to brush your teeth! Treat your workouts the same!)
understand WHY* you set your goals in the first place!
*Acknowledge underlying emotions behind your desire to change - most people don't want to lose weight just for the sake of seeing a lower number on their scales... they want to lose weight because they FEEL unattractive (low confidence) or are ANXIOUS of negative health consequences!)
Motivation does NOT happen to you by accident!
It is a result of your thoughts, desires, intentions and behaviours...
...you are responsible for it and it is up to you to have a plan in place to maintain motivation throughout your programme...
...not just on day 1!
"Ab's Are Made In The Kitchen"
Exercise alone produces a huge number of benefits for overall health and most parameters of physical and mental performance.
But results are of course limited unless your nutrition is optimised to support your goals.
Take weight/fat loss as an example again... You can put as much effort into your workouts as you like... burn as many calories as you like, raise your metabolic rate as much as you like... ultimately, if you continue to eat more calories than you are burning off on most days, you will GAIN weight.
Equally, training with weights in the pursuit of muscle gain requires a nutrition strategy to support changes... such as meeting protein intake requirements and eating appropriately to fuel intense workouts.
I'm a huge believer in taking one step at a time.
So if you're starting out... beginning by focussing primarily on exercise or nutrition is sensible. But in the long-term, understand that you can only get so far while neglecting nutrition.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking you can "outrun a bad diet".
The same applies to your general lifestyle.
Even if you do maintain a routine of 3x 1 hour workouts (that's not to say you must), this only accounts for 1.79% of your week...
...leaving you with 165 hours where your lifestyle choices can either help or hinder your progress.
That includes simple things such as how active you are throughout the day, how effective your recovery from exercise is, managing stress, managing alcohol intake etc.
Exercise is vital... but don't make the mistake of assuming that your workouts automatically counter-act an unhealthy lifestyle!
Closely linked to motivation and discipline...
You may be very good at holding yourself accountable...
...but most people are not.
In which case you'll need to seek accountability elsewhere.
You are human.
Without accountability, you are prone to excuses, telling yourself stories that affect your actions, and generally not sticking to your intentions...
Plus, it's easy to break your own rules!
Get some skin in the game...
...share your intentions/goals with somebody else, set up a strict reward system, invest in coaching...
...do whatever it takes, either to ensure that you are accountable to yourself, or to somebody else.
Without accountability, even the very "best" programmes will eventually fizzle out as there is simply no incentive to maintain discipline.
And again... whether you decide to hold yourself accountable, or seek that accountability from an external source (friend, coach etc), ensuring that it is in place is:
a) part of your programme
b) 100% your responsibility.
EVERYBODY has a health & fitness goal... even if it's simply to maintain their current level of health.
But, especially when it comes to more ambitious goals, the vast majority of people NEVER achieve their goals.
This is NOT due to lack of knowledge (or at least not a lack of access to knowledge). All of the information that you could possibly need to successfully reach a physical goal is available via the device that you are currently holding in your hand.
But an effective programme requires more than physical instructions.
Until you address the various lifestyle, emotional, and psychological components that are required for sustained progress, your programme is incomplete...
...and that may just explain why so many people fail to achieve their goals.