BE THE TORTOISE - JANUARY FITNESS GOAL SETTING
So, here is our first post after Christmas and New Year's, and what else could it be about besides losing weight, making resolutions, and setting goals?
Every January, people "come back" energised and eager to make significant changes to their health and body. People want to get at it in January in our gym like any other. Lethargy has been replaced by focus and people have got fat to lose and goals to achieve. Good stuff – certainly for all of us personal trainers out there! – but going at it all guns blazing might not be the answer.
Without question, the biggest goal setting and fat loss mistake people make is trying to do too much too soon.
“Right, that’s it. I’m off the booze for six weeks, I’m going to smash it in the gym – three weights, two cardio sessions – and I’m giving up carbs, coffee, sugar, going wheat free and knocking the dairy products on the head”
Does this sound familiar? Honestly, you tried it last year, it didn't work out so well (which is why we're here again), and you probably won't continue doing it this year either! Why? Too many alterations at once.
In general, a gradual approach to fat loss is the most effective. Unless you can devote yourself wholly to it.
Sustainable fat loss is a different animal from simple weight loss, and it is best and most sustainable when accomplished in small, consistent steps through simple, sustainable lifestyle changes.
Goal setting is important. Real and tangible goals provide motivation and keep us accountable. These are often along the lines of, ‘I want to drop a dress size’, ‘I’ve got two stone to lose’, ‘I want to look like X’. All reasonable goals and what are referred to as OUTCOME goals.
In reality, we are all intently focused on these in January, but by mid-February, we have lost sight of them. Why? Because they frequently require an overwhelming amount of sacrifice that we simply 'can't' give. This lack of self-control is understandable given that we have a limited amount of willpower and always desire what we cannot have ('I needed a chocolate digestive').
But what if we set PROCESS goals, focusing on the small steps (behaviour changes) that must be taken in order to reach the outcome goal....?
For instance, if you want to lose a stone, you will likely need to make changes to your diet, exercise routine, and other aspects of your lifestyle. These could include going to the gym, being more active, drinking more water, eating more of certain foods and less of others.
Instead of focusing on the outcome and attempting to do everything at once – as is our tendency – a more effective approach (we've seen this more times than we can count) would be to concentrate on the steps or processes involved and work to eliminate them one by one.
Perhaps something along these lines:
Week one, I’ll drink more water and go to the gym three times per week.
Week two, I’ll eat breakfast every day.
Week three, I won’t take on anything else whilst I nail the other things down.
Week four, I’ll swap my lunchtime sandwich and crisps for a serving of protein and salad/vegetables. Perhaps a serving of fruit also.
Week five, I’ll eat a smaller dinner portion.
Week eight, I’ll cut wheat out of my diet.
Before you know it, three or four months have passed, and you've made numerous small changes that are now automatic. And guess what, you've lost even more than your stone.
And you may not need to repeat the process the following year.
The trick for most people is to shift their attention from the loss of a stone to the actions required to reach the goal. The result will then take care of itself.
Be consistent. Be patient. Be the tortoise!!!
If you have any questions on the above or would like some advice on how we could help you with your fitness goal, don’t hesitate to get in touch or visit our gym and sign up for our trial of small group personal training sessions.