If you really want to guarantee that you don't fall of the wagon, don't load it down with too many different commitments. Once you let one of them slide, it's much easier to let the rest of them fade, one by one. If you attempt to incorporate too many healthy habits at once, you can lose focus, and your resolve gets spread thin.
That's why we feel that now is not the time to join a gym. At least, not yet. Get your momentum going first, by looking at your current eating habits. Take a step back, and evaluate them. What is ONE thing you know you could change, today, that would help you begin losing weight. Start eating salads at lunch, or eat at home more often. Work on changing just that one thing for a week. Then, re-evaluate and choose what the next step for you will be.
What Does the Research Say?
We suggest the option of waiting until you've been successful with managing your meals and food for one month before choosing to sign up at a gym. Researchers would agree with us. In an article titled "When it Comes to Lifestyle Recommendations, More is Sometimes Less" authors Wilson and colleagues reviewed 150 various research articles about changing your lifestyle. They found three very important truths about this topic.
1. A moderate number of recommendations produced the highest level of change. The researchers explain that having only a few (1-2) changes to incorporate will ensure you have the greatest motivation for each goal, and it helps keep the tasks from becoming too demanding.
2. Low motivation means you should only choose one goal. If you are not feeling like you have the ability to make changes, you may want to only choose one thing, and stick with it until you feel ready and empowered to take on something else. Celebrate your daily choice to do something good for yourself.
3. When people changed their behaviors, they were really able to change their physical bodies. This one is obvious, but it's important to remember, when you change from being a person that says, "yes, please," to desserts, to a person that says, "no, thank you" to desserts, this will absolutely change health parameters in your body. Not to mention it will absolutely help you lose weight.
Bottom Line on Why You Shouldn't Join a Gym... Yet
Changing your diet first, and becoming acclimated to your new lifestyle change, will give you the energy and empowerment to start your weight loss engine. Then, you can move forward with more commitments. The more success you have, the more confidence you'll have in yourself. Once you've lost a few pounds, it certainly makes exercise easier to undertake as well. Work on making healthy behavioral habits first, and master them before adding more sources of challenge to avoid burnout. Often when people want to lose weight, they try to do it all at once, and run into the challenge that they can't win because the effort is too great. It seems impossible to keep up with so many different goals. This is the primary reason many people ultimately give up on their weight loss efforts.
Make sure you congratulate yourself when you do make a positive health choice, and reward yourself with something other than food every week. When you want to give up, just remember the reward you are going to be giving yourself. Don't let success give you permission to stop. Instead, channel it into confidence that you are a competent individual, capable of taking your goals seriously and meeting them head on. Then, joining a gym to lose weight and sticking with it will be a walk in the park.
Wilson K, Senay I, Durantini M, Sánchez F, Hennessy M, Spring B, Albarracín D. When it Comes to Lifestyle Recommendations, More is Sometimes Less: A Meta-Analysis of Theoretical Assumptions Underlying the Effectiveness of Interventions Promoting Multiple Behavior Domain Change. Psychol Bull. 2014 Dec 22. PMID: 25528345 [Epub ahead of print]