By Jonathon Mummert
If you are starting a new workout and/or diet routine, the best thing you can do is ignore what everyone else is doing.
Knowing how to set a goal and how to measure your success in reaching that goal are two of the most important pieces of the health and fitness puzzle. Unrealistic goals and poor methods of measuring success are sure fire ways to squash motivation and stop progress dead in its tracks. Combine that with a poor support network, and it’s easy to see why your new routine can become boring and seemingly pointless very quickly. This article will hopefully help you to avoid some of the pitfalls when planning that perfect program while helping you more accurately measure your success along the way. Their goals and their levels of fitness might not be exactly like yours. Trying to copy what others do and how they do it is a quick way to either find yourself in over your head, or simply not following the best path to your goals. Forget what everyone else is doing. Set your goals based on you, what’s going on in your life, and where you would like to see it go. Then, there are those of us with a background in lifting and/or sports who make the mistake of wanting to pick up where we left off. You know, the “good ol’ days” or our “glory years” … back when we were a lot younger and had less responsibility. You head back in the gym expecting to pick up where you left off and try to push that weight you used to push. You struggle to make it happen, no matter how much your form might be off, or how your body is suffering. While this might work wonders for your ego, it’s typically your health and recovery that suffer. Eventually, you start missing workouts due to injury or frustration… or both.
Life doesn’t usually wait on hold:
One of the biggest pitfalls is planning a new program as if the rest of your life will simply step aside while you get your workouts in. While we should prioritize health and fitness goals, it’s hard to pay your trainer when you’ve told your boss you can’t come in because of your New Year’s fitness goals. The same could be said about family and other relationships that make life meaningful. Be realistic when planning how often and how long you’ll work out each week. When a new client comes to me excited about starting a new program, it’s no surprise that they’re ready to dedicate hours every day working towards their new goals. A problem with this approach is apparent when, in February, these well-intentioned plans meet the realities of Life. Life tends to win. Rather than scaling back, many simply give up. Rather than setting a goal that you know is far too ambitious to maintain, it might be best to start by scheduling a more modest and realistic approach.
Missing the Forest for a Tree:
It’s a shame when I witness new routines producing great results, but the person cannot see them. Often, they are too caught up in reaching their end goal faster. It’s easy to become focused on how you want to look and feel at the end of it all. Be careful that you don’t forget to enjoy the victories along the way. You may find yourself taking one step forward and two steps back if you focus more on your goal than on all the wins along the way. It is also common to see someone set a goal and work their ass off to reach it, only to find themselves feeling lost at the end. Don’t be so focused on achieving a specific goal that, once achieved, you have no reason to keep showing up. Some people are restarting old goals this New Year because they reached those same goals last year, only to quit once the goal was met.
Making it all Work for You:
The first place to start is with knowing yourself. Know your current fitness levels, and your actual availability. Then you can start planning a program that works best for you. I typically advise new clients with less hectic schedules and responsibilities to plan for 2 full body weightlifting sessions per week. Also, add 2 or 3 days of some lighter cardio for the 3 or 4 weeks. This will make the most of their time without over committing. For those who are a little busier, I advise 2 full body workouts per week with 1 or 2 days of cardio. They can always add to this if time allows. These workouts can be scalable, and results can still be attained. However, you will not likely reach your fitness goals if you schedule yourself for too much.
Remember that you are working to achieve YOUR fitness goals, not the goals of someone else. If you’ve taken any significant time off, you are probably not going to be starting back where you left off. That’s okay! Starting back realistically will go a long way in getting you back to where you once were (or at least closer than you would be without injuring yourself!) Enjoy the process. Make one of your goals to lift with as perfect form as possible. Notice the victories along the way. Master the process that will take you to the aesthetic promised land you seek. Be better today than you were the day before, and your new routine will be one of the best you’ve ever started.