You will recall from “Setting Fitness Goals Part I”, that I was in quite the dilemma with my exercise lifestyle. Things felt like they were going well, and then they suddenly seemed to be going poorly. Truth be told, I had no tangible way to prove either outcome. It was simply an inkling, like the feeling you get when you meet someone you think is weird. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Without proof though, you are just stuck walking through a store trying to avoid that “awkward” person, potentially for no good reason.
Enter in the SMART goal. Having Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound goals help set you up for success in the battle to know how things are going. Now, SMART goals are great, but they only represent a part of the battle I went through to get back on track in strength training land. They represent the expect portion of “Expect what you Inspect.” Now it’s time to inspect “inspect” as we continue to work on setting fitness goals.
Setting Fitness Goals: Inspect
Because I had a lack of clear expectations around what I wanted and needed, I also had nothing to measure, inspect, test, or celebrate. It is not just enough to have great expectations; you also have to make sure those expectations are being followed. At your job, you might have someone else in charge, but with your fitness, it’s up to you. You are your own boss, making your body move, choosing the right foods, and getting adequate sleep. I’m the guide but you decide. So knowing this, I want to share a few simple ways that you too can start keeping track of your goals.
Setting Fitness Goals: Figure Out Where You Are
Admittedly, this sounds a little nebulous. All it means is that you need to figure out where you stand today in relation to your goals tomorrow. It is extremely hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re starting. If you have ever used MapQuest, Google Maps or any GPS, you know how silly that would be. Maybe that doesn’t hit home because your phone automatically fills in your “current location.” So imagine with me that your phone and computer have spontaneously exploded or been taken over by Skynet. All you have is a paper map and a compass. You have decided where you need to go (let’s say Washington D.C.). If you don’t know specifically where you are, how well is this going to work? You may know you need to travel in a general direction, maybe south? But for how long? Or maybe you should travel east and then cut south. Good luck my friend. Good luck, indeed.
Fit Tests are the “Current Location” of every Beachbody program I’ve done. Instead of skipping it because you think it doesn’t matter, go through it, and write down your results. This will give you your starting point. It may even help you refine some of your SMART goals in becoming more realistic and attainable.
Setting Fitness Goals: Make Marks on the Map
Continuing with the GPS and travel analogy, think back to a time when you were out on vacation, road tripping or otherwise. You probably saw some great things along the way to your final destination. Maybe a beautiful sunset over a tree line suddenly presented itself, or you passed by Mount Rushmore on your way through South Dakota. We all like to take note of significant events along our journey. Well, your fitness journey is no different! Seeing where you have been helps you appreciate where you are, celebrating the milestones along the way to where you are going. Personally, I prefer using Microsoft Excel, but maybe you favor a handwritten journal. Or if you’re going through Body Beast or any of the three P90X programs and want something more robust than pen and paper, check out their apps. Body Beast has a free mobile web app. And I highly recommend spending the $2.99 for the P90X app to track your workout stats and progress. In the end though, you have to do what works for you. So find something that works and start marking your map.
Setting Fitness Goals: Use Those Marks to Help You Travel Further
When you’re setting fitness goals, this particular point is the most important of all. Back to the beginning of our once tragic tale and you will find a version of me who had no idea if he was doing well. Without a marked-up map, I could never remember how many pushups or curls I had done the week before (let alone the weight I used). I may have had a general memory of how difficult something was, but when it came to the specifics, I usually had nothing. But by looking at the previous week’s workout (“marks on my map”) I can create mini-goals for the current week’s workout. I could add an extra rep or two, increase the weight by 5 pounds, or last 45 seconds longer in Plyometrics. I can use these marks to visibly see whether or not I am heading towards my goal. The same goes for you. Just imagine being able to look back after 60 days and seeing that you have gone from doing 9 pushups to 18. Maybe that does not sound like much, but that tells me you just doubled your strength with pushups. And doubling your strength is always amazing!
Setting Fitness Goals: Share and Celebrate Often!
This is where having other people who know about your goals is helpful. Not only can others keep you accountable, but isn’t life more fun when you celebrate with others? Think about it. Who in their right mind ever imagined a great success being celebrated all by their lonesome in a dimly lit room on a Friday night? No one I ever wanted to meet that’s for sure. So share your goals and share your growth with at least one person. And do it often! My best workouts come when I am doing them with others or have just been challenged by someone else to keep going because they know I can make it. You’d be surprised at how much someone else’s belief in us can propel us towards our fitness goals.
So enjoy the victories (and share the defeats with others) because arriving at your long awaited and wonderful destination is better when you have someone there beside you to hear you say, “We made it!” So celebrate… just not too often.
Setting Fitness Goals: Conclusion
So how did I solve my fuzzy, unclear, fitness problems? Quite simply really. I set expectations for myself and started inspecting my own progress. It’s not rocket science, but it does take some effort. The best things always do.
So ask yourself, “What do I need to do to ‘Inspect what I Expect?’” Then go and do it. And as always, if you need help, that’s what we are here to provide. Click the “Start My Coaching” button below and together, we will start setting fitness goals that are SMART, tracking your progress, and celebrating the victories as you strive to live a sustainably healthy lifestyle.