What’s in the way of your goals?

Hi friends! How’s your day going?

It’s been a great one over here. I started off the day with a GPP workout in the garage. It looks easy when you first glance at it, until you realize that you have to do 15 burpees in between every strength set. And then you do that all over again. It was BRUTAL. I got kind of sick of the burpees -I think that was the point?- so I included some alternates in my workout, like side-to-side hops, lateral lunge and basketball throws, and squat jumps. Since I don’t technically have a gym anymore, I’ve been getting a little creative with my options. πŸ˜‰


Our day also included a trip to Buy Buy Baby (which used to think was called “Bye-bye Baby”- morbid, huh?) and some Greek for lunch. 


Livi already knows how to say “cheers” with her falafel.



Since we’re starting to get into the holiday season, I figured it would be a great time to think about goals. It’s a good idea to assess your current routine and any changes that can be made, especially before heading into a time that’s filled with extra treats, events and…egg nog πŸ˜‰

When I first start training a new client, I like to get a full assessment of body compensation, current routine, past injuries and health history, and a food diary. This is a great way to determine any obvious changes that can be made to more easily achieve their goals. Often people are surprised that seemingly small things can have a significant impact on health and fitness gains.

Easy fitness fixes

Here are some common culprits:

1) Not enough sleep. It is crucial to make sure you’re getting enough sleep to thrive in your everyday activities, including your workout. When we’re sleep-deprived, our body more easily holds onto fat, and it can be difficult to get in a good workout if you’re tired. Make sure to give yourself adequate time to unwind before bed, and find the sleep amount that works for you. Some people naturally need MORE than eight hours -I have a good friend whose magic number is 10- and some people need less. Make a chart of your sleep for a week and your energy levels throughout the day. Then, make sleep a priority. 

2) Stress. Stress is another evil that can make our body hold onto fat and inhibit fitness gains. Sure, a little bit of stress is a good thing -it makes you work hard and can improve output from your efforts- but too much stress can cause a “flight or fight response” in the body. During this occurrence, we can either “fight or run from” the stressor, or admit defeat. If we choose the first option, more free fatty acids are released into our blood (to help us with the battle at hand), or if we admit defeat, it can cause increased fat creation, breakdown of tissues and suppression of the immune system (source). When we’re stressed, we can also feel the urge to overeat, which can hinder fat loss efforts. The key: try to keep your Zen face on. When you feel yourself becoming stressed, make a list of the tasks at hand or your worries, fold it up to deal with later, and do something you enjoy. A short walk, few yoga salutations or chat with a good friend can work wonders. 

Balance  1 of 1

3) Doing the same thing all the time. Our bodies thrive on change, so guess what? Changes can’t happen if you’re consistently imposing the same demands. The human body is an intelligent and efficient machine, and will kick into cruise control when new stressors aren’t introduced on a regular basis. Change something about your routine at least every 4-6 weeks. 

4) Not eating enough, or working out too much. Results occur during rest. If we’re not giving the body adequate time to rest and recover, lean muscle tissue cannot efficiently rebuild and repair itself. Also, make sure you’re fueling your body for everyday life and any extra activities or workouts you complete. If starvation mode kicks in, your body will hold onto everything it has as an effort to survive. Failing to consume adequate nutrients can open the floodgates for a host of heath-related problems, too. Aim for real, whole foods and eat up, buttercup.

Chicken dinner

5) Water intake. Water intake can slightly increase your metabolic rate (source) and help you to feel more full and satisfied. When you feel the urge to snack, there’s a chance you may be thirsty if you’re not drinking enough water. Aim for at least 96 oz of water each day. 

6) Lack of strength training. Lean muscle burns more calories at rest, so if you increase the amount of lean muscle through strength training, your metabolic rate will be elevated. Also, many types of strength training will enable your body to burn more calories throughout the day due to heightened EPOC (oxygen recovery after exercise). Be sure to include strength training as part of a well-rounded fitness routine. Not only is is key for improving fat loss and physical appearance, but is critical for bone health. 

Are there any changes you think you could make to your routine? What’s standing in the way of your goals?



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  1. This is a great list, thanks for sharing this!! Sleep is a big factor for me. When I’m tired and I still try to push myself to workout I never work as hard. If I can fit in at least a 30 minute nap before exercising it really helps me.

    • Fitnessista says:

      i totally agree. if i’m exhausted, it isn’t worth it to exercise. it’s smarter to rest up and try again the next day!

  2. Great post! Loved it!
    Great job on the GPP workout today.. it was ROUGH.. Good Monday start though!

  3. Great tips thank you Gina!

  4. I think I may have said this in a previous comment… but I love that you cite sources. Nerd alert, but I love the transparency AND the fact that you actually do research/call on the experts when you’re talking about something that involves facts/figures/primary research.

  5. I agree with the not eating enough. I think that’s a big issue for a lot of people, especially when they are trying to lose weight.

    For me, what is getting in the way is injury. That’s a hard one! I try and do all the things I CAN do and not focus on what I can’t…but it’s still a struggle.

  6. I think I might try that burper tonight — looks tough!

  7. Right now, stress is a big factor in my life. There’s a lot of things going on that will be worth it when they’re complete, but the process is very overwhelming. I’m hoping things settle down a little in the next 3 or 4 months.
    In the meantime, I’m going to take a few ques from this list. I could definitely use more sleep, drink more water, and add some yoga to my weekly regimen πŸ™‚

    You may have addressed this at some point, but do you offer online personal training (apart from your blog)?

    • Fitnessista says:

      hope that everything calms down for you soon!
      i did in the past, and have one client right now. when things calm down in the spring (after we move) it’s something i may offer again

  8. Such a good, and necessary for me, reminder! Too often I find myself choosing gym over sleep, but it just makes me not feel myself. Probably not always my greatest choice πŸ™‚
    The teacher in me also appreciates the sources!

  9. I am absolutely pathetic with water intake. I will have a diet coke every night sitting in a grad class, but have to choke down a sip of water…it’s ridiculous, and I have to force myself to cut that right out.

    Aside from the water thing which is probably most important, I think I am mostly in the way of my goal because I over-think or read much too much of what internet forums think is the best way to work out (which, these days, seems to be: “Just lift weights! Do no cardio!”). These very black and white assertions and comments make working out seem even more intimidating, and I often get nervous going to the gym for fear that cardio is a waste of time and won’t help me reach my goals (like the internet likes to say), and that if I use dumbbells instead of working from Starting Strength’s barbell techniques, for example, then I am not going to see results from any kind of lifting either.

    Thanks for the goal reminders…and for not being totally black and white with the way you view fitness!

  10. A great reminder! This time of year is so busy that it’s easy to not take note of whether you’re getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, etc. Self-evaluation is a healthy thing! πŸ™‚

  11. Great tips Gina! Quick question for you though… You mention undereating as an inhibitor of weight loss. However, if you’re trying to lose weight don’t you have to have a calorie deficit? I agree that starvation is not the way to go, but can you reccomend how many calories one should aim for? For example: one’s bmr – and would you go below this for weight loss?? Sorry if I’m being unclear but any advice you have would be appreciated!

    • Fitnessista says:

      you do need to have a slight calorie deficit for weight loss, but you need to be eating to sustain your everyday activities, BMR and exercise
      an example:
      Calorie burn from stuff around the house, everyday activities: 300
      Calories burned during workout: 400
      Total calorie burn for the day: 2000
      – 500 calories (for 1 lb loss per week)= 1500
      It’s more than the BMR, but enough to facilitate weight loss. it really depends on activity level and calories burned throughout the day (which varies according to body composition)

  12. I am a 10 hr magic number girl πŸ™‚ I am OK with 7-8 though, but 10 is perfect. Any less than 7 and I am a literal zombie.. like I don’t feel safe driving. Funny how different people are!

    I do switch things up, sometimes maybe too much I think, but as long as it’s a good thing?! I’m always doing different videos, gym circuits, and CLASSES! My fav. Hot yoga, pilates and dance cardio are where my heart lies. A killer hr of power pilates and 20 mins of hiit was my Wonderful workout today, and paired with yesterdays 90 min hot POWER yoga… I hurt πŸ˜‰

    I think because I love switching things up I sometimes lack consistency. I work several p/t jobs, so my schedule is always different, it’s hard for me to have a “set” routine. I just try to plan each weeks workouts and stick to that week, and that seems works for me (if I actually do it!). I think I’d see better results though with a bit more consistency, even if I’m always working out!

  13. I think not eating enough is a factor for me. I recently took a human nutrition class and tallied up my daily calorie intake and was shocked by how low it was. Also since I wasn’t eating enough calories my proportions of carbs, fat and protein were off…I wasn’t eating that much fat, but in proportion to everything else, my fat intake was too high.

  14. Killer workout!! Can’t wait to give it a go. What’s an Aussie pull-up? I just wrote about today my goal of being able to do 3 pull-ups!

  15. Stress and sleep are my biggest challenges now with being in school and working full time. It’s important for me to remember how much of an effect they can have. Breathe in, breathe out…and thank goodness for yoga. πŸ™‚

  16. Great post, Gina! I’m a goals nerd so I love this type of stuff. I just surveyed my readers and clients on the same topic, and many said the same reasons you’ve listed. Lack of money came up as well, and for some, the goals just became unimportant. In this case, I think it’s super important to be as clear as possible about what you want and WHY you want it. If it’s to make someone else happy, it’s far less likely to stick. One of my best girlfriends and I have our vision boarding date set for the end of December and I’m super pumped!

  17. Great list!
    One thing I think is an easy fitness fix is to vary workout intensity. A lot of my clients come to me doing their workouts at the same moderate/steady effort day in and day out. They notice a big change when they add in some higher intensity days and alternate these with some easier days for active recovery.

  18. I went through a phase where I was for sure working out too much. It also caused me to not focus on the right things. Now I am trying to break out of it and add more strength training back in!

  19. I’m currently working on decreasing my stress levels, nourishing my body, to make sure that I am eating properly to fuel this active lifestyle. I am also changing up my workout routines a lot more these days. Spin, TRX, HIIT…I despise burpees, so that workout looks BRUTAL. πŸ˜‰

  20. That workout looks intense! Burpees are the worst (and the best). Sleep is super important for me, I have to get at least 7 hours, but 8 are better.

  21. I would say 2. and 3. are getting in my way! Lots of stress with school and the same ol’ strength routine in my weight training class. I need to change things up. And take a few deep breaths πŸ™‚

  22. Great list! I know getting enough sleep and daily stress are big ones for me. I think a lot of times people forget to factor in calories in their daily drinks too. It all adds up!

  23. This was an excellent post, Gina!!! Sleep is the big one for me. I had a professor who once compared the “average of 8 hours” to a medium t-shirt…some people wear mediums and some people need 8 hours but that’s an average not a mandate. I find that I need at least 8 hours, 9-10 to feel my best and have enough energy, but with going back to school I only get about 7. I’ve been pushing my bedtime back by a half an hour for the last few weeks though so now I’m getting closer to 7 1/2 and hopefully I’ll be at 8 in time for finals πŸ™‚ Thanks again for this post! Great tips!

  24. I definitely don’t eat enough. Like not even close. Either a) I don’t have time to eat; or b) It’s hard to put myself enough of a priority to eat. I was in Weight Watchers, and was one of the slimmest people there, and was insecure feeling as though people were thinking, “Why is SHE here?!” But, it was eye opening. The group facilitator gave me my points, and I really struggled to use them up. Once I did – Wha-La! Weight loss. I recently heard the term “emotional eating disorder” that was described as you not actually acting on said behaviors, just being in a delicate place. Interesting, none-the-less πŸ˜‰

  25. All great reminders! I am so guilty of not strength training enough– I have to work on that!

  26. Oh my Gosh, I hate burpees. I ALWAYS find a substitute for them, they freak me out πŸ™‚
    I decreased my stress level a lot and uppened my sleep, which helped a ton. Especially now when it gets cold and dark here, I just need more rest! I lift heavy 4 times a week and I balance it out with 2-3 Yoga classes – perfect combo for me!

  27. Great list! Thanks for the tips πŸ™‚

    I’ve been doing yoga at home ever since I came back from yoga teacher training, and I’ve definitely been keeping my flow pretty similar. Time to mix it up!

    I always wonder- for sleep, if I go to bed at 11:30, my alarm goes off at 6, but I snooze until 7- does that mean I had 6.5 hours of sleep, or 7.5 hours of sleep? Does anyone know how you should count that last hour since you’re waking up every 9 minutes and not really sleeping, but not really awake?

    • Fitnessista says:

      i’m pretty sure that “snooze” sleep doesn’t really count.. even though i do it every morning, too πŸ˜‰

  28. Awesome list, love your blog! I’ve learned a tremendous amount from you regarding exercise so a big thanks to you!

  29. Yes, yes, yes! Love everything about this post, and that sleep and stress take your #1 and #2 spots. And that you give EPOC a shout-out in #6. #restbasedtraining, FTW! So often we forget that while sleep and stress don’t have any calories, they affect our wellness (mind & body) hugely πŸ™‚

  30. great post, thanks for the tips! I’m working on getting enough water. I’m normally pretty good but I’ve been slacking lately. I was wondering if you could talk more about these moves you mentioned:
    “Also, many types of strength training will enable your body to burn more calories throughout the day due to heightened EPOC (oxygen recovery after exercise).”

  31. Ugh!!! I’m guilty of all of these!! I wish you were moving to Massachusetts!!!!! Gina

  32. Omg! Girl, I’m loving that you’re doing GPP workouts!! They are so great!! Xoxo

    • Fitnessista says:

      they’re really challenging, i don’t have to think/plan, and can do most of them at home! loved the ones i’ve tried so far

  33. I love these tips! I do have a question for you, though, relating to a recent fad I’ve seen. I don’t know if it’s a dieting thing, or more of a raw-focus thing, but… mono-meals. What are your thoughts?

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