Fitness Goals. We’ve all set them. We’ve all given up on them. And then set them again - it’s a vicious circle.
I’ve definitely been caught in that loop a couple of times and it took me a long while to understand what I was doing wrong. If you’re just a regular person like me, whose job is unfortunately (or not) something other than maintain a great physique it is extremely important to set goals that will keep you motivated and drive your progress. What’s vital for your physical and mental health is not becoming obsessed over the things you want to change, but rather working towards your goals with determination and positivity. So what’s the best way to go about it?
Get off social media...
I could make this the only suggestion in this article, and I believe that not only would this conversation be over but actually 80% of our problems today would be solved. However, unfortunately most of us are not able to do completely cast off social media, because we’ve started to rely on those channels for our job, social life and information access. That’s why it is even more important that we learn how to use social media in a smart and positive way.
Filter the content you’re following and select accounts that provide you with motivation and guidance through useful information and content instead of causing you to feel bad about your body or encourage unrealistic expectations. Try to find people you can relate to on a personal level and pay attention to what they’re saying and who they are targeting with their content. It’s very important that you try to find content that is appropriate for your body and condition.
Never forget that most fitness related content on social media is created by trainers whose job is to look great. They usually don’t sit behind the desk for 8-10 hours and then drag themselves to the gym tired, stressed out and with their thoughts somewhere else. I’m not saying that their job is easy, I’m just saying that they dedicate as much time and effort to shredding their abs as you do to ripping through your emails. You’re a boss, by the way.
Know why you’re doing this
The problem with beginners’ fitness goals is that they’re usually very short sighted and not based on a long term commitment or plan. Losing 10 pounds is not the real challenge. Keeping your new weight is. Stop thinking about that perfect dress you want to fit into because it’ll be out of season next year and start thinking about how you want to feel as you age.
It’s kind of a taboo to talk about aging but I think it’s an important aspect of our well-being and health management that we need to take into consideration. When I was in my early twenties I never spent much time thinking about the process of aging, especially when it came to my fitness or how it could relate. Now, when I’m almost 30, ageing is something that I became more aware of.
It can be a scary thing. For me personally, it’s scary because, like many women in their late twenties or early thirties, I’m not yet ready to start a family. And I don’t want to feel rushed. It’s also scary because of all the other changes in my body that I know aging will bring sooner or later.
The good thing is that we are able to slow down all of those processes and counteract a significant portion of metabolic shifts that are part of the aging process through leading an active lifestyle and maintaining good physical fitness. So the next time you’re thinking about your fitness goals, think about how hitting those goals will improve the quality of your life in the long run. If we use that as our main motivation, shredding your abs or lifting your butt will be just the cherry on top and not the primary focus.
Explore and learn about your body
I think most of us are guilty of falling for the amazing “before and after” photos of different fitness programs and routines and then end up thinking they’re all a scam because we didn’t get the same results. The thing is - fitness routines don’t work the same on everybody. Someone is predispositioned to lose weight quicker, the other one to build muscle mass easily. Some people find it easier to build up the upper body; others the lower part.
So the first thing we need to do when we start our fitness journey is to accept our body and current condition.
We accept it with all it’s weaknesses and strengths and build a plan based on that. Our progress will be much easier and faster if we work with our body instead of against it. So before we start defining our fitness goals, you have to allow yourself an exploration period. Try different activities or routines and observe how your body reacts. Don’t immediately think your goals are not achievable if just one path didn’t lead to them.
Set, track, review, set.
If you’ve read what I’ve said so far and are in it for the long run, you’re ready to start setting your fitness goals. By now, you should consider those goals just small steps towards a new healthy habit. Set and use them as check points that will keep you motivated and going in the right direction. You’ve got the rest of your life for your fitness journey so there really is no need to rush. The longer you will work on your fitness, the more you will learn about yourself and the easier it will be to set, manage and fulfil your expectations.