Why is my fitness routine not changing my body?



A Mind & Body Perspective

There is often uncertainty as to what the “right” type of exercise is and a struggle to find the balance between time spent at the gym and time resting.

The question of when, what, and how long to exercise, becomes an internal conflict which often leads to an increasing feeling of guilt when a day of exercise is missed.  This is quickly followed by a fear that all of a sudden you will gain weight or drastically lose muscle mass overnight.  Exercise becomes a chore rather than an activity to enjoy and the decision of whether or not you go to the gym that day becomes a daily battle.  

Below are some physical and mental understandings which might help you find balance in your exercise routine and calm the conflict mind and body.

The Physical

  1. Challenge Your Body

You need to challenge your body for it to believe that change is essential in order for it to Survive. 

If you really want to see change take note of how much you are challenging your body.  It needs to believe that it has to adapt in order to survive.  But remember always stay within your limits no one else’s, you want to challenge your body not cause injury.   

  1. Exercise Its Quality Not Quantity  

It’s not the hours you put in but the amount of energy and commitment that drives your training which makes the difference.  Believe that a 20, 30, or 45 minutes strength conditioning or cardio work at a challenging intensity will achieve results.  It is a mental state believing that long hours = more commitment and bigger change.  Focus on what you are doing, your precision and energy, rather than the time. 

  1. Challenge The Intensity  

Giving 110% in short bursts of high intensity training will be sure to make your body wake up and listen.  It’s the craze and there is a reason for it, it produces change.  Remember we all have different fitness levels, when training feels “intense” is unique to the individual, note when you feel you’re reaching your max in both heart pumping, breathing, and muscle activation, and you’re almost there.

  1. Mix It Up

Unless you change your training from time to time, or up the intensity level, the benefits of training will slow and stagnate.  Mixing up your type of training is a great way of continuing to challenge your body with new exercises using new muscles and avoids the monotony some may experience when working out. 

  1. Even It Up 

There are 5 components of exercise which are all important for our body to function and develop, these include cardio, strength, and flexibility.  We may have a favourite but to ensure your body is getting everything it needs then balance it out and incorporate them all into your training regime.   Remember, depending on our age, and for women, our menstrual cycle, different training types are more beneficial than others, for instance women over 40 would greatly benefit from strength training as muscle mass is significantly lost after this time. 

  1. Rest 

In finding balance in your training types one thing is nearly always devalued and that is rest.  Rest is absolutely paramount to making the most out of your training.  Rest is essential to achieving change, preventing injury, burnouts, and for training to remain sustainable, and importantly, enjoyable.  If you put too much stress on your body a stress hormone cortisol increase.  This hormone increases appetite and fat storage because your body is preparing for what it believes is a fight to come. Too many consecutive workout days and limited rest days inhibits the benefits of training and can even reverse them.  When the body is at rest, the process of rebuilding muscle begins following the natural breakdown of muscle that occurs during exercise.  If you want bigger and/or stronger muscles, then take necessary breaks.  Continuing to train before your muscles have repaired will mean you won’t reap the maximum benefits from your training and even worse cause injury, Illness, or burnout. 

  1. Nourish 

What you eat and when you eat is also essential in finding your training balance.  Nourishing foods full of nutrients and taken in balance is vital to fuel your body.  Ensure you eat sufficiently before and after training to meet your body’s energy needs.  Depending on the type and length of training you are doing you need to fuel up before your session to ensure you can give 110%.  Feed your body after you train so you don’t burn muscle limiting your body’s ability to repair and build. 

  1. There Is No Right or Wrong Way To Exercise 

There are types of training which will receive faster results such as HIIT, as there are types of training for your age and body composition, but what remains key is choosing the type of training which will enable you to meet your goals.  Once you understand what you want out of your training, whether that be increase fitness, gaining flexibility, burn fat, you can then mould your training around your needs.  


  1. Enjoy It 

Exercise like any activity is an individual choice.  The only way you are going to find out whether you like something is if you try it.  There are many ways to exercise, different classes to try, sports and physical activities to participate in, so there is bound to be one you are more akinned to. 

  1. Exercise is a Process

Unless you have a specific training goal in mind think of exercise as a process rather than a means to an end.  Incorporate it into your life for the long-term rather than exercising excessively because you feel you ‘have to’ and then burn out creating a yoyo effect.  This will also help to calm those feelings of guilt which rise when you miss a gym session.  Instead you will realise that you have the next day or next week.  There is always tomorrow.

  1. Be Consistent and Create a Routine for Both Mind And Body 

Consistency is key to ensure that your body and mind registers that this routine is happening and will happen again.  This understanding will lead to the mind and body adapting in order to be able to manage this new activity efficiently and effectively.  Building any routine is always going to be hard because it hasn’t been established yet and new (or old) neural pathways are being created in response to the new stimuli being continually presented to them.  Once you maintain the mind-set to make a change, the structure will follow, and over time the process will become easier.

  1. Be Patient.  

Be kind to yourself.  Nothing will come of beating yourself up for missing a session apart from a conflicted mind-set which we try not to feed.  Allow yourself time to process and develop.  There will always be peaks and troths.  It is about managing the ups and downs rather than trying to be up all the time.

Meet Sophie Barrett MSc, BA (Hons), Dip, CertHE

I am a qualified Counselling Psychotherapist, accredited member of the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP).  As an accredited member I am recognise as having achieved a high standard of knowledge, experience and development in counselling and psychotherapy through my accredited MSc qualification as well as a through a separate rigorous application and assessment process within the BACP.  As a BACP accredited member I receive supervision when in practice and am bound by the BACP Ethical Framework.  

I am a qualified Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) registered Pilates andPre and Postnatal Pilates instructor and a Level 4 Sports Massage Therapist with membership of the Association of Soft Tissue Therapists.  REPS is an independent public register which recognises the qualifications and expertise of health-enhancing exercise instructors in the UK which provides a system of regulation for instructors and trainers to ensure that they meet the National Occupational Standards.  All professionals on the Register are appropriately qualified and have the knowledge, competence and skills to perform their role effectively.    

ADULT Psychotherapy