The key to finding success in your workout programs can often be as simple as starting with a proper set of goals for yourself. It is usually easy to come up with a wish list of what you want for your health, your body, and your fitness. But I find that by following these 3 steps (Take a Current Status Check, Set Exact Goals, Devise a Clear Plan), clients often find clearer paths to meeting their goals and much less frustration along the way.
For the status check, I recommend looking at each of the following traits in your current life/body/health and decide which of these areas is running smoothly and which areas need focus:
1-Food Choices:Are you eating processed foods (cereal, protein powders and bars, crackers) or are you taking in real foods (all natural animal products, vegetables, fruits)?Doyou eat a healthy balance of food types (protein, carbs and fats)? Are you cooking more at home or are you going out where you risk the unknown of what restaurants are putting in their food to make it taste better? Are you eating inflammatory foods (gluten, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, GMO foods, soy) ?
2-Drink Choices:Think about your intake of caffeine, soda, artificial sweeteners and alcohol vs. good old-fashioned water. Are you drinking pasteurized juices (simply sugar water) or eating whole fruits instead? Do you have a water filter at home to remove toxins from your drinking water?
3-Daily Caloric Intake:Are you eating too many calories for your daily expenditure? Are you maybe eating too few and forcing your body to hold onto fat and slowing down your metabolism?
4-Consistency of Above:Be honest with yourself about how consistent you are in making smart eating and drinking choices. Are you sticking with your goals?I recommend shooting for the 80/20 rule (perfect 80% of the time and close to perfect/doing your best for other 20%).
5-Types of Workouts:Do youonlybody-build, or do you maintain a balanced program of weight-training, cardio, flexibility training, and corrective work for better posture? Do you know what areas you should stretch for your body (only trying to lengthen the tight areas without over-stretching the weak areas and making them weaker)? Have you been doing the exact same workout for years? Are you focusing on cardio to lose weight instead of weight training and food corrections? Are you over-training (not taking adequate days off each week)? Are you getting out of the weight room to live an active life (snow boarding, biking, swimming, etc)?
6-Workout Program Consistency:A good, balanced program is a great start—but have you been sticking with it through the year? A 4-6 week cycle in taking a full week’s break and re-doing your program is ideal. Do you skip weeks at the gym, or overlook some muscle-groups? Again, be honest with yourself; this is the moment for a reality-check. Do you find yourself spending the week days making up for blowing it out every weekend?
7-Relaxation/Meditation Activities:Are you taking care of your mind’s connection to your body through activities like yoga, outdoor walks/biking/hiking, massage work, or meditation? Especially if you are in a stressful job, rebuilding your energy is far more important than always breaking it down.
8-Rest/Sleep Schedule:Getting eight hours per night? Does your sleep schedule follow your circadian rhythms (that is, sleep from 10pm to 6am)? Are you sleeping soundly through the night?
9-Work Life:How many hours are you working per day? Is it stressful or rewarding? Do you enjoy going to work each day due to challenges and friends?
10-Drinking/Partying Habits:We all like to have a good time, but are you drinking or partying every weekend or too often? Are you spending the whole week recovering? Are you missing out on healthy opportunities because you are hung over all the time?
SET EXACT GOALS
Now that you’ve taken a good look at your current health status, make a list of changes you’d like to make to improve the categories listed above. These should be specific and practical changes. For example: swearing off diet soda, or alcohol on the weekends (or at least for the three months of the year); only eating as many calories as you burn each day; taking up a recreational sport instead of just gym workouts, or working with a trainer to develop a corrective program; or getting to bed by 10p on weekdays.
You want these goals to be as specific as they can be. If you have broad ideas (i.e. be more flexible) you need to break these goals down into exact ways of measuring success in these (i.e. want your back to be pain free each morning you wake up) Then once you have the goals, you just need the plan.
MAKE A CLEAR PLAN
Now take each of your specific goals and come up with a list of clear action items, prioritize each item, and give yourself deadlines on each item to stay on track.
You have now devised a fool proof method of working towards your positive changes and if all goes well and great way of tracking the SUCCESS you find along this road!