Finish What you Started

Mar 17, 2022 | Teacher's Corner

It’s not always just laziness or a lack of willpower that holds us back from reaching our health and fitness goals. Sometimes it runs deeper: our personal traits or psychological makeup may be playing a significant role. If you’ve made repeated failed attempts to stick to a healthy eating plan or an exercise programme, maybe it’s time to look a little deeper into the cause

Identify your Patterns

Difficulty committing to an eating plan or exercise programme essentially reflects an internal struggle to commit to the self.
Many of us struggle to prioritize ourselves and our health. An underlying belief about yourself might be: “I’m not allowed to be healthy, happy, fit.” Or a perfectionist might believe: “I will never … lose enough weight, be fit enough, be healthy enough … so why even try since I will fail?”

Reflect on how important you are to yourself and what commitment you’ve made to yourself and living a healthier life”. Being mindful of your patterns is the first step towards changing them.

Try the following exercise to help identify your patterns:

Think of the last three attempts you made to work out regularly, improve your eating habits, quit smoking or achieve some other health and fitness goal.

Then answer these questions:

  • What was your plan programme?
  • What research did you do before making your decision?
  • How did you decide on that particular plan or programme?
  • How long did you keep it up?
  • Why did you stop?
Identify your Patterns

Chances are that a pattern emerges from your answers. Maybe you tend to start off with a bang but your interest dwindles. Maybe you did well for quite some time, but quit just when things seemed to be going well. If you are a good starter, you’re probably a natural enthusiast who loves a new project.


  • Do a bit of research and even have a few trial sessions before you sign up for an exercise programme or commit to an eating plan.
  • Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t be too focused on what you’ve done: rather, focus on what’s left to do. Sure, milestones are important, but the end goal is more so.
  • Give yourself a challenging but achievable goal.
  • Consider exercising with a trainer or in a group if you’re starting out. The same goes for diets – it’s easy to start off with a bang and lose momentum. A dietitian can get you started on the right track and you’ll see results that’ll keep you motivated.
  • An exercise or weight-loss buddy can be helpful too. Often, we’re most inclined to honor our commitment to another person than to ourselves.
Finishing what you started

If boredom is your problem, variety is your solution.

Alternate between different exercises – cardio and strength, solitary and group, indoors and out. Choose an eating plan that includes a wide variety of foods and allows substitutions and treats, rather than a very rigid plan.

What lies behind this, often is a belief that people can’t change, that our abilities are fixed, that we can’t improve. These people don’t really believe it is possible for them to be 5kg lighter, or to get fit enough to run a half marathon. “The flipside of fear or failure is fear of success.” “What if I achieve my goal?”

There is the pressure to maintain it. Make sure the goal you’re setting is YOUR goal.
Don’t beat yourself up for failing to achieve your goals, free yourself to make different choices. Maybe you need exercise that is more social, or more competitive. Maybe you need an eating plan that can accommodate your love of eating out. Think about what works for you, and build your health plan around that.

When you’re absolutely clear in what you want to do, everything lines up.

(Janet Diederiks)