For the first two weeks of every new year, gyms are always extremely busy with people starting their new year's goal of focusing on exercise and physical health. By mid-January and early February, gym attendance will begin to decrease, as people slowly lose track of their gym goals and training schedules. Gym attendance will then increase again around March-May, as people reset their workout goals heading into the summer. But why does this influx and outflow of new gym attendees occur?

Now, of course, I have not done studies on this or asked gym attendees for statistical data to prove what I am trying to say, but as someone who would miss the gym, not follow a steady workout plan, or burn myself out too quickly in hopes of achieving "perfection," I can make a few assumptions.

When individuals start a new workout regimen, they begin working towards their goals with excitement, or a desire to change their lives for the better. Some people want to lose weight, others burn fat, and some, gain muscle. But these goals do not just happen overnight. They occur over time, through consistent working out, the proper diet, and enough sleep. But, these goals could suffer if you go into your workout plan with the wrong mindset.

When I first started working out, I thought that my goals were going to be a constant uphill slope. I thought, If I ate healthily, worked out hard, and took care of my body, I could achieve what I wanted as fast as I wanted. I was wrong. Very wrong. It is up to you to focus on your diet, focus on your workout, and do what you can to lead a healthier lifestyle, but you cannot force your body to produce results. In fact, for me, my gym progress is nothing like a smooth uphill terrain, it instead looks more like a mountainside, with each hill gradually getting taller and taller. For my body to adjust, it progresses forward two steps, then takes one step back.

Even with a constant diet and exercise plan, my body will fluctuate, and because I am human, I have to learn to be okay with that. I know that for me when I first get back into working out after being away for a few weeks, I will gain weight, and seemingly, more fat. But, in reality, that is just my perception of things. My body is working hard to adjust for the effort I am putting into it. Eventually, I will reach my goals, but it will take time. Reaching your fitness goals will take time, patience, and consistency.

So yes, I love the first few weeks of the year. I love those moments when I see individuals gaining a passion for their health and fitness, and working towards their end goal. But I ask these people, to be patient. In the beginning, do not force yourself into the gym 7 days a week at 4 am to squeeze in a 3-hour workout, lifting heavier weights or running longer than you should be, just to try and achieve results in one day. You will become exhausted, possibly burn yourself out, or injure yourself, and you will be setback from your end goal, which will cause you to be harder on yourself than you deserve, and possibly not achieve what you desire. Set a plan. Start off slow.

In the beginning, start with 4 days out of the week, or focus on working out on weekdays and giving yourself the weekends to rest. Focus on having your cheat day be on the heaviest day of working out, or don't give yourself a cheat day at all, and indulge with a piece of chocolate or two every day. Remember that you are aiming to see progress, not perfection. Fitness takes time, and even after working out for some time, I have setbacks. One day I may curl a 25, and the next, I may barely be able to pick up a 15. Sometimes, I'll be squatting only my body weight and before I know it I'll be sitting on the ground because my legs just can't go on any longer.

It's OK to push yourself, and it's OK to be tired after a workout. But when you first start off, find those limits, and slowly push them. Do not attempt to pick up a 100-pound weight on your first day simply because you saw someone do it on YouTube. Learn your body, learn your limits, and grow from there.

It doesn't take perfection to succeed in fitness. It takes persistence, resilience, consistency, and determination. It takes setting a goal and working each day to get a little bit closer to achieving it. It will not happen overnight, but each day you work towards it is one-day closer you are to achieving it. Here's to a lifetime of fitness progress and success.