When was the last time you walked into a hair salon, said you wanted a haircut and proceeded to sit down and embrace the unknown destiny of your mane, whether that meant going bald or getting it dyed blue? Never? Go figure. You’d also probably never ask for a random pair of jeans, no matter their size or cut, and despite being too small and uncomfortable, buy them on the spot. I assume by you now you catch my drift.
We’re all different, and as such, cookie-cutter fitness solutions cannot be the means to an unclear end, while those vague, unmonitored “goals” cannot qualify as goals to begin with. So, before you find yourself in this miserable, vicious loop of wondering how on Earth you still have love handles or are not happy with your gams, wipe the board clean and let’s start from scratch.
Mind the fine print, ladies
Before you settle for the omni-potent “I want to lose weight”, start questioning yourself like a drill sergeant on a bad day. How much weight do you want to lose? Do you want to lose fat, or muscle, or you don’t care? What’s a reasonable deadline for losing that weight, a month, a year? How much does that mean on a weekly basis? How are you willing to do it? What produces such results – is it a cross-fit class, Zumba or yoga?
Once you have clarified the (or several) major goal, and divided it into smaller, attainable, measurable weekly milestones, write them all out and put them somewhere obvious, like on the fridge or next to your bed. It takes some serious knowledge to walk into the kitchen and the gym, and know that you are on the right track, doing precisely what you’re supposed to do, so always keep learning, adapting and enriching your fitness goals.
What’s your big M?
Your motivation, your purpose, the essential why behind your grueling workouts and your newly-defined nutrition regime. Most of the time, people tend to focus on the negatives, on what and why they are not willing to do in order to get to the finish line. But before you can establish a clear path of success, which will outlast your drops of motivation and willpower, define the key purpose of your efforts, and for heaven’s sake, do what makes you happy.
Instead of filling your head with “I want to have toned legs, but I hate running”, switch towards a constructive mindset, and find your purpose to fuel your determination. Do you need to exercise to heal an injury? To be able to walk normally again? Doctor’s orders? No amount of healthy food and awesome training programs can make up for the loss of grit to get you where you want to go.
Supportive decisions that matter
If only those 45 minutes at the gym were the only thing that counts in your chase for the perfect figure, we’d all be Michelle Lewins and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnsons. After you’ve diligently done your research about which exercise and diet regime you will take up, you can start shaping your life around those decisions, so that you can support your goals from all angles.
Your diet, for one, should mean that there’s no room for harboring fugitive cookies in secret compartments. If your routine includes strength training (and it should), then getting durable weightlifting clothes is necessary for safe workouts, along with proper protective gear. If your motivation plummets when you see bundles of fit people around you, pick up a pair of headphones, pack your favorite tunes, and focus on the music. And don’t forget a healthy post-workout snack!
Master the art of monitoring
Now that you’ve defined your major fitness goals, your teeny-tiny milestones and your battle plan, it’s time for some math. If you want to change the way you look, note down your measurements from the very starting point, and then keep track of how much you’ve done every workout, and if you’ve hit your goals for the week. You want to grow stronger? Note down how much you’ve advanced with more weight on the barbell.
There are many fitness apps that can help you keep track of your progress, and the numbers will not be your only way to see how far you’ve come. Notice how well you sleep, if your cravings are under control, if your energy levels are improving, and the like. Maybe calorie counting isn’t for you, but your diet and your exercise both need to be monitored in a way that helps you experience your own progress.
Prepare for the sticking points
Sometimes, your body will just say “no more!”, you’ll hit a plateau and wonder how the hell your system no longer works. Maybe it’s time for a change: add some new exercises, change up their order, combine them into hybrid sets, increase your resistance, switch up your heavy/light weeks, add some HIIT, make adjustments to keep your body progressing.
Finally, fitness is a way of life, not a temporary solution to your dissatisfaction. So, for as long as you start your efforts with a mindset that is only focused as far as losing those ten pounds and then allowing yourself to suffocate in a bucket of ice cream, you will fail. Remember that health is a state of mind, a sum of all of your choices, and true results will only come to those who are willing to make those choices every day.