Goal Setting

  • Set short term attainable goals. As humans we crave feedback and as change is a gradual process, so gradual as to sometimes go unnoticed, it can be very helpful/encouraging to set challenges for yourself that validate/confirm your efforts.
  • Reward yourself for achieving goals preferably with items that inspire and support your journey (avoid food rewards).
  • Set realistic, healthy long term goals.
  • Lasting changes are internally motivated. The only person you can change is yourself. Take responsibility for your actions, for your happiness, for your health. If you are waiting for the world to change, for your friends and family to change, for all temptations and obstacles to disappear, for your life to be perfect you will be waiting forever.  You are in control of your own destiny, no one can take this journey for you. Begin at the beginning, right where you are, make do with what you have in this moment. If you create an artificial environment/conditions with which to facilitate change it will be very difficult to maintain those changes when real life intercedes.
  • Make use of the Zeigarnik Effect the brain naturally seeks closure. So until you are in the habit of exercising everyday you need to create what is known as an “open loop”. With exercise that might mean scheduling your workouts for the week on Sunday or simply putting on your gym clothes at a specific time. When I wake up in the morning I put my gym clothes on and again when I come home from work even if I don’t feel like exercising that day this simple act can be all the motivation it takes! Once I start a workout I almost always finish because I hate to quit in the middle. To avoid snacking in the evening I floss and that triggers to my brain that it is time to stop eating for the day.
  • Goal creation should be a lifetime pursuit. Create experience and fitness based goals as weight-loss goals have an expiration date. This goes back to the Zeigarnik Effect we spoke about earlier. What happens after your lose that 10 lbs? I’ll tell you what happens to me I either regain the weight and start the process over or I continue to lose unnecessary weight in an effort to “maintain” the high and sense of progress I experienced when in pursuit. Weight-loss should be a byproduct of a healthy lifestyle not the main objective.
  • Don’t punish yourself when you fail to meet an objective/fall off the wagon. Everyone fails, failure is necessary and you can’t have success without it! Get back on track as soon as possible. If you find that you are continuously unable to meet your goals then it’s time to reevaluate your goals and your approach! If you miss a workout don’t double up the next day. If you overeat at one meal don’t skip the next or even restrict. Just move on.
  • Be flexible, life happens! For years I was completely rigid when it came to exercise. I never compromised my workouts. I drove my loved ones crazy. I ruined my health. When I get sick I no longer force myself to complete the scheduled workout if that workout does not work for me. Often I will switch to yoga or a simple walk to get a little fresh air as these activities have proven to aid my recovery. If I am very sick I don’t exercise, I rest. If I know that I have plans and won’t have time for a full length workout I switch to a short intense workout or I workout at a different time of day. If I simply can’t squeeze in a workout then it’s a rest day and I get back to exercise the next day. If I have an injury or very sore muscles I work around it by doing exercises that don’t strain the affected area. If you find yourself making excuses/continuously skipping workouts it’s time to reevaluate. It could be that the you need to shorten your workouts or split them up to better fit in with your lifestyle. It might be time to try something new or to find a workout buddy. It might be time for a change of scene some people find it very difficult to workout at home, others find it impossible to get to the gym. If none of these things helps then you need to evaluate your priorities and to make more time for yourself.
  • Choose activities that actually interest you. Nothing new is ever easy but you will stick to and progress more rapidly if you are enjoying yourself.
  • “If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.” You will get stronger and faster. Your balance will improve. Your technique will improve. Your stamina will improve. Despite all these improvements it will never be effortless, if it is too easy you won’t progress and eventually you will find yourself sliding backwards. The body adapts. In each workout you need to find your edge.
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