Many people have fitness goals such as running a 5k, or deadlfiting a certain amout of weight or maybe their goal is to just feel stronger in day to day life. Others have fitness goals related to how they look…maybe even ONLY working out to look “better.” Maybe fitting in certain clothes, or being able to wear a dress at a wedding or even just looking better naked. Still, others have both of these goals; fitness related goals and “look good” goals.
Is one type of goal better than the other? Does one of those types of goals I listed above produce better long term results?
I think the answer is “yes” in most cases, yet both are OK to have.
If you are embarking on a weight loss or lifestyle change journey, I think it is imperative that you have a mindset that allows you to be flexible with your long term goal setting, but also very consistent with your short term “process goal” setting. By, process goals I mean things like:
- Tracking your food every day for a month.
- Getting in 20 workouts this month.
- Drinking 100oz of water every day this week.
Process goals are the habits you will build over time that will allow you to sustain your hard earned results for longer than your wedding day 🙂
Now, I am not discounting the importance of setting a long term goal of “looking better.” This is often the motivation for people to get off the couch, start moving and eating better. But, I see far too often when this type of goal is the ONLY goal, there is always a rebound in the negative direction after the goal of “looking good” is hit OR if if the goal is later found to be unrealistic. For me personally, I have been exercising for nearly 5 years to “look better.” I am very happy with my results and wouldn’t change anything I have done. But, I have also noticed some complacency in the past year since I have not set any fitness goals. “Looking good” only gets you so far. You will never be as happy as you think you will be when you reach that goal weight range or that size pants you have been wanting to hit for years. Your life will not change as much as you think. Yes, you should be more confident. Yes, you might find the love of your life after losing 100lbs. Yes, you should FEEL better. But, life will always go on and so should you if you want to sustain (and enjoy!) your results.
“Enjoy the results. Embrace the process.”
Embrace the process. This is the key to sustaining results. You might not always love your workouts. You might not want to exercise on a busy day or when you are coming down with a cold. But, you must embrace the entirety of your journey and that means the aspects of fitness, exercise and nutrition you don’t love. Everything you do must have a reason or you will lose interest pretty quick. Trust me, I don’t like everything I make myself my do, but I need to set an example first of all and second of all, I want to be better. I want to move better, be stronger, look better, improve my endurance (this is new!) and not be stagnant. When I am stagnant I am bored with workouts and my nutrition. I purposely did not set any major fitness goals the past 12 months as an experiment to see how I would do. I was losing focus on what my workouts were for; besides to “maintain my current body composition.”
If your main goal in life is to simply maintain your current body composition, with no other fitness goals to keep you motivated…good luck. I don’ think there are any fitness models reading this 🙂
There is nothing wrong with wanting to look better, but fitness is about more than that.
Yes, I want to continue looking how I look and feeling how I feel. But, for me to really EMBRACE THE PROCESS I need short term process goals such as hitting my macros daily, or running three or four times a week so I can run a 5k in a certain time (this is waayyy out of my comfort zone!). This gives my workouts purpose and the results of better body composition (more muscle, looking leaner) will come with the hard work I put in. I have found I then enjoy the results much more too!
Here are some tips to help you “embrace the process” a bit more, so your results are more enjoyable:
- Set a new fitness goal today. A long term goal like running a half marathon. A goal that will take you 12 weeks to a year to complete.
- Set three process goals for the next four weeks. Such as: getting in 20 workouts, meal prepping every Sunday and only eating out 4 times. Re-evaluate in four weeks and set new process goals if needed. I do this with my clients!
- Find a workout buddy. Someone with similar goals is great, but not needed. Someone you can talk to about your struggles and successes.
- Find other sources of accountability such as a coach or posting your race results on social media. Don’t look at this as bragging, but rather as helping you achieve your goal. This is 2018…use social media…it ain’t going away. Do I sound like a millennial saying that??
- When you are getting close to your achieving your long term fitness goal, set a new goal and start working on that immediately after finishing your current goal. There is no time to waste as this “down time” will only lead to complacency.
- Have fun. Pick exercises and goals that you genuinely enjoy. Now, some of the things you need to do in order to achieve your long term goal, you might not enjoy, but if you are seeing results you will embrace the process a bit more.
- Always remind yourself that fitness is not a book. Fitness is a long game. Fitness should be for your entire life. So only setting a goal of reaching a certain goal weight is “closing your fitness book.” Don’t close your fitness book. Embrace the process, keep setting goals and understand that everything you do has a reason whether you like doing it or not 🙂