It’s been my experience that people who have trouble achieving their goals make one of the following critical mistakes.

Are you a failure if you haven’t reached your health and fitness goals?

Absolutely not. You can fail many times in life, but you aren’t a failure unless you give up. So, instead of giving up, try examining the reasons you haven’t been able to meet your goals and make the changes necessary to achieve them.

It’s been my experience that people who have trouble achieving their goals make one of the following critical mistakes:

1. Too much too soon

It’s common for people who are fed up with feeling out of shape and overweight to want to make drastic changes. Their determination is admirable, but the all-or-nothing approach isn’t always realistic.

Going from being a couch potato to someone who works out six days week is stressful on the body. Going from eating whatever you want to following a strict nutrition plan can make you feel deprived and depressed. Some people find motivation in the challenge, but more often than not, people who make these drastic changes burn out after a few months or even weeks.

Gradually transforming yourself into a healthier lifestyle works better for most. Start by exercising three days a week. Get rid of most of the junk food from your diet, and reduce your calories. These small changes, especially if you’ve been doing no exercise and have been eating poorly, can lead to big changes in your body and overall health. Once you’ve mastered that first stage, then you can move on to more intense exercise and a stricter diet.

2. Temporary fix instead of lifetime change

Many people who want to make changes feel like they can join a gym and clean up their eating for six months, and then be done with it. While they may make excellent progress in those six months, as soon as they go back to their old habits, they lose the progress they made.

Good health requires constant attention, not a part-time commitment. Healthy eating is a lifestyle, not a fad diet. Strong bodies are maintained with regular exercise, not on-again-off-again workouts.

Like most worthwhile goals, healthy living is a journey, not a destination.

3. Unrealistic goals

People don’t become obese overnight. People don’t get high blood pressure and high cholesterol after a few months of bad eating. Don’t expect to be thin or have perfect health that quickly either.

Set short-term goals that are challenging but realistic. Once you’ve achieved them, set new ones.

4. Lack of commitment

It’s easy to say you want to lose weight, get healthy, start exercising, eat better, and so on. But talk is cheap. Doing those things requires you to make those goals a priority in your life.

If they’re important to you, you will find the time to exercise. You’ll find a way to eat better.

But don’t confuse desire with commitment. Everybody “desires” a better body and great health. Are you willing to “commit” to achieving them? If so, failure is not even possible.

Frank Shelton is a certified fitness trainer and the owner of The Village Gym. He can be reached at 376-3060 or