Fitness Goals Austin family medicineThe cold cover of winter is starting to fall away and spring is nearly upon us. The realization that summer is just around the corner is a wonderful motivator to kick back into gear and begin a workout program. It’s never that easy though, is it? What classes should I go to? How do I lose weight? How many days do I need to workout? How do I get skinny? Help! It’s a lot, but here are a couple simple ways to streamline the process and ensure that you meet your goals. The caveat here is that everyone is a different place, but the system below allows for varying skills and abilities. We all start somewhere different, the big thing today that we start.

  1. A different approach to setting goals. You are incredible at setting goals, in fact, you’re too good. Rather, what I mean is that you only set goals that are huge and grandiose. There is nothing wrong with winning the Ironman in Kona, but what if we started with running a 5k? If you’ve been a Netflix junkie over the holiday’s maybe we should dial it down even more. A simple walk around the block is perfect and you can definitely do it. That’s the big point here, if you set goals that are far too distant without check-points along the way you’ll slowly fade back into old habits.
  2. How to break old habits. It’s a natural human quality to want to feel validation in our endeavors. So what if we set up a system of goals that had small achievable markers that would reinforce ourselves and push us closer to that end goal. A simple example that has worked for clients of mine repeatedly is the simple goal of putting on workout clothes. That’s it! Too tough? Okay. How about making a goal to get your workout clothes out of the closet and laid out on the bed? We have already hand written these down and now we can mentally check off that box in our head. Science says the next thing that happen is a wonderful release of dopamine and accomplishment is flushed into the system. So accomplishment isn’t a natural chemical, but it’s a powerful mechanism to promote change. Is one of these goals enough to make you feel fully accomplished? No, absolutely not, but creating a simple flow of tiny achievable markers with inevitably steamroll into positive change. The big trick is to write it out to reinforce the goals reality. I promise you’ve accomplished way more today than you’ll give yourself credit for, but because ‘it wasn’t on the books’ your brain says it doesn’t really count. Other good examples of small goals that will push you to bigger ones are: Get car key’s to go the gym, Open the door to go to the car, plan a recovery meal for after your workout, make a playlist for your workout… and the list is endless. All it takes is a little thinking and you can orchestrate an unbelievably productive day that is endlessly rewarding.
  3. Planning for plateaus. Using the end of your day to write your goals down for the following day is a wonderful way to give yourself closure on the tasks you didn’t complete and a physical plan for the future. Uncertainty kills. It’s impossible to know exactly what will happen in the next weeks and months, but this is why we refine. Hopefully a couple weeks into your program your goals are not to ‘lay out workout clothes’ and eventually roll into something more like ’45 minutes of cardio’ or ’15 minutes of cool down and stretching’. Perhaps you’re at the level of cycling 80 miles a week to start, and just need to add some longer pulls on hill sprints, but the system is the same. Create small goals for the very near future and stop beating yourself up. The plateau will come, but because we are constantly evolving with our goals daily we can see the pitfall and change lanes.

How to actually do it

  1. Get a pen and paper to write a 1 week goal ( Walk 3 hours, 30 min a day)
  2. Write 5 actionable lead-up goals ( Get walking shoes out, find podcast to listen to on walk, lock door behind you)
  3. 3-4 days into the goal, begin to think of next week’s goal ( Walk 14 miles, 2 miles a day)
  4. Repeat until your win everything.

As I said in the beginning, systems like this are moldable to people across many walks of life. Old or young, strong or weak, Rome was not built in a day. You’ll find confusion and depressive motivation when you lack certainty, but if you are smart about it you can create a plan to help to achieve your goals. Little victories add up to huge gains.