With the New Year, comes new resolutions. Only this time, let’s keep them!
One of the basic skills that I help teach is how to make goals. It’s not as simple as just picking something and trying to stick with it!
How to make goals and stick with them!
- Make it objective (measurable). If the goal has a clear number attached to it, it is easier to keep track off. Having simple objective markers can help you to stay on track and to stay motivated.
- Make it realistic (attainable). If the goal is too unattainable, or if you know deep down in your heart that you won’t be able to accomplish it, you’re more likely to abandon the goal before you even get half way through. Find a realistic target and keep working until you get it!
- Specific completion date. Having a specific goal with a specific deadline will help you stay focused, especially as you near your deadline! If you finish early, you can always reset your goal.
- Relevance. This part is easy. Since we’re talking about health and fitness, these goals will be relevant to you for the rest of your life. See below about what goals are good to make!
Some good goals to make!
My personal goals this year will revolve around body fat percent composition, waistline, performance (running), and movement (my 5 basic movement patterns). What’s NOT there? Bodyweight. Unfortunately, too many people jump to using weight as an indicator of health. Yes, it’s easy and objective, but that’s it. When you are actually getting in shape, you will be putting on muscle as well, so gaining weight can also be good.
Goals for body composition:
Waistline – Excessive abdominal fat places you at greater risk for developing obesity related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease
To correctly measure waist circumference:
- Stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones
- Make sure tape is horizontal around the waist
- Keep the tape snug around the waist, but not compressing the skin
- Measure your waist just after you breathe out
Body fat percentage – this one is harder to do, but with a few dollars, you can learn how to do it. Buy a set of Body Fat Calipers (under 10 dollars), and either try to figure out the instructions, or ask the advice of a trainer or health practitioner. This is a much better way to keep track of your “unnecessary” weight, the extra superficial fat.
Goals for Movements:
Quick review: my 5 basic movements include SQUATS, HINGES, PULLS, PUSHES, and POSTURE
You don’t have to have one for each. Pick ones that you like. More importantly, pick ones that you are weak in! Your training should help to bring balance to your lifestyle, so always focus on what may be deficient.
Some examples of each:
Squats: sitting up and down, lunges (engages anterior and posterior leg muscles similar to squats), weighted squats
Hinges: deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, Warrior 3 pose in Yoga
Pulls: pullups, rows, inverted rows
Pushes: pushups, presses
Posture: anything that challenges your core and entire body. Many exercises will challenge this as well as other movements, such as the standing military press or TRX rows.
Make sure to also train your cardiovascular system! Often nicknamed the “silent killer”, hypertension (HTN or high blood pressure) is the most common disease is the US. HTN also damages the kidneys and can increase the risk of dementia. By improving your cardiovascular fitness, you’ll have the benefit of lowering your blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol, and also reduce your stress.
Find an activity that you enjoy, and go do it. There isn’t a “best exercise” if you don’t enjoy them. Whether it’s running, swimming, playing basketball, just go out and make sure you enjoy it. You’re more likely to stick with it if you do.
If you can’t think of any cardiovascular exercises that you do enjoy, pick something that is convenient that still gets your heart rate up, and make yourself do it. To make my workouts less painful, I bought a dancing game on my XBOX to make me get up and move so I don’t stay on the couch. Not only will this help scare away friends of my future kids, I’m also saving on my gas bill since I won’t have to blast my heater as much!
Either make a goal/activity challenge your cardiovascular system, or even better, directly measure it by assessing your blood pressure or resting heart rate. My plan is to measure it now, and then measure it in 6 months after I’ve made myself exercise more consistently.
Hopefully you now have some good goals to make. Remember, keep them simple and realistic. And commit to them! Once you complete them, make new ones. Remember, what we need to be doing is commit to a healthy lifestyle!
If you’re curious, here’s my goals:
By June 1st, 2016, I will be able to do the following:
Waist line: currently at 37.5 inches, and my goal will be to trim it down to 34.5 inches
Running #1 : Complete a Lap around Lake Merritt (near my home) in under 25 min (3.4 miles around). (I don’t like jogging, but it’s the most convenient activity I can do, and it’ll be a great warmup for my workouts)
Running #2: Complete a 400 meter run in under 70 seconds. (20 years ago I could do 58 sec. Last year I tried this and I think I was at 76 sec). Training for this will definitely challenge my cardiovascular system.
Pulling: I will improve this to 25 pullups. I can do 12 currently (and that led to cramps last night!)
Pushing: I will improve to 10 handstand pushups at the wall. I can currently do 2.
Movement and flexibility: I will be able to do a Turkish get up with 70 lbs. I can currently do 55 lbs.
Cardiovascular: I will play basketball for 1 hour 1x/week. If I do not, I will have to jog my dog one extra time around the lake (my wife will keep me honest and make me do this).
Hopefully, you have some examples now that will make it easier for you to set your own fitness goals.