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Train hard, eat well and rest - when the results don't add up it's time to reassess your goals

Chasing goals such as a number on the scales is often a misplaced attempt at conforming to societal pressure, writes personal trainer Sarah Cremen.
Jul 13th 2017, 10:59 AM 5,702 0

AS WITH ALL things in life if you want to get somewhere, you’ll need some sort of roadmap or plan. Health and fitness is no different.

It sounds so simple, so basic and yet the majority of us fail time and time again to actually achieve the goals we set ourselves.

As the saying goes “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

There is no need to dwell on all the things you’ve tried before, no doubt you consciously wanted to be successful in your previous endeavours, but despite our best intentions wanting something to happen rarely equates to it actually happening.

If you find yourself at a roadblock in your efforts at creating a happier and healthier life read the three points below, add a healthy dose of introspection, then reassess, plan and execute.

1. Reassess your goals

I’m not going to patronise you at this point and harp on about the importance of setting SMART goals in achieving long term health and wellness.

Instead, I urge you to rethink your goals.

If your pursuit of some arbitrary number is making you miserable, change the goal.

If chasing your goal is detracting from your life, rather than enriching it, reconsider said goal.

If you think seeing a certain weight on the scales is going to bring you eternal happiness, think again.

The reality is, that even if you were to achieve it, the results are fleeting and as the number on the scales almost inevitably begins to creep back up, you will be left feeling deflated and defeated.

Chasing such goals is often a misplaced attempt at conforming to societal pressure; what you think you should like and anything less means you are in some way undeserving of feeling happiness or accomplished. That’s rubbish.

Don’t let yourself be at the mercy of a constantly fluctuating body fat percentage, instead, consider giving yourself permission to look and feel the way you want.

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Goals are tantamount to success, but have a focus that will truly make you happier and improve your mind as much as body, something that is important enough to get you out of bed at 6am on a cold, wet morning.

2. Too much, too soon

KISS – keep it simple, stupid.

Let’s be honest, most of us train to look a bit better, move a bit better, increase our energy, fitness and quality of life. We are not elite athletes, so why try to train like one?

It’s the human condition to always want more, but why over complicate things unnecessarily for minimal (or even negative) return on investment?

Take the time to learn the basics — improve your mobility and cardiovascular conditioning and allow your body adapt to lifting an appreciable amount of weight.

If you cannot perform a bodyweight squat, push up or chin up, you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that bands, chains, bells and whistles have any place in your programme.

Most of us are guilty of getting ahead of ourselves and our capabilities. In truth, the majority of us could do with stripping it right back and focusing on simply tweaking the training parameters; manipulating the intensity, rep ranges and exercise selection and adhering to the principles of progressive overload.

Lose the superfluous stuff and focus on taxing your entire system, facilitating motor learning, producing more force and creating more stress; believe me, you will see progression.

3. Work hard, rest hard

Reconcile yourself to this, if you want long-lasting results, you’re going to have to put in some hard graft.

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I’m all for adopting a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, but all too often I see clients who simply aren’t honest with themselves about the amount of effort they put in.

Maybe that sounds a bit harsh but take a second and allow yourself to view your own training, nutrition and lifestyle choices objectively.

Does the effort and intensity match your goals? If not, that’s cool; reread point one and reassess those goals.

Otherwise, consider that perhaps you just need to work a little harder, sacrifice a little more.

If your goal is to get stronger yet you’re still lifting the same weight for the same three x 10-12 reps you were three months ago, or if you’re goal is to lose a stone yet you continue to absentmindedly polish off your kid’s leftovers, it might be time to give yourself a healthy dose of reality and realise that you’re only doing yourself a disservice.

The majority of my clients are busy professionals who need to be able to balance their healthy habits with a myriad of other work and family commitments.

I see the hectic schedules and stressed lives every day, so I get it; and I am not suggesting adopting some monk-like status and eating chicken and broccoli from now until Christmas.

However, to change your body you need to stimulate it in order to create adaptations, and this requires a certain level of discomfort, breaking a good sweat and pushing past your perceived limitations on a regular basis.

Work hard, yes, but don’t forget to rest hard too. Learn to prioritise your sleep, nutrition, stress reduction and recovery.

They are all crucial and underutilised components for maximising your overall health and happiness.

Train hard. Eat well. Rest.

Sarah Cremen is a personal trainer and physiotherapist based in David Lloyd Riverview in Dublin. For more health and fitness advice and tips, you can follow her on FacebookInstagram or Twitter

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