Personal Goal Setting

Yesterday I wrote about the initial stages of developing personalized training for clients. I initially find out:

  • What activities do they enjoy
  • What activities do they not enjoy
  • How often are they going to exercise
  • How long will they exercise during each session
  • What are their physical limitations
  • What equipment do they have available
  • What is their ‘ideal’ picture of a healthy lifestyle

Using that information as a foundation I can begin to help the client structure goals in three key areas: nutritional health, physical health and mental health.

There is a great connection between being nutritionally healthy, physically healthy and mentally healthy. It’s possible to have one or two without the third, however, true health involves a balance of all three. To achieve a healthy lifestyle all three areas need goals.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these categories…

Nutritional – goals focus on improving dietary choices; Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has 80% to do with what one eats and only 20% of physical activity.

Possible goals include:

  • Tracking calories (using MyFitnessPal or something similar on a regular basis)
  • Limiting processed foods (take on manageable dietary adjustments when people try and change too much all at once it failure becomes more likely)
  • Increasing water intake (drinking 1/2 of your body weight in water every day)
  • Increase vegetable intake (a great source for HEALTHY carbs)

Physical – goals focus on improving physical appearance/ability.

Possible goals include:

  • Building core strength (holding a plank in good form for 60 seconds, performing side plank holds/lifts)
  • Increasing cardio endurance (training for a 5k – is it just to finish or is there a time goal)
  • Increasing flexibility (increased range of motion)
  • Increasing muscular strength (chest press 20lbs dumbbells, bicep curls 15lbs)

Mental – goals focused on improving overall ‘quality of life,’ achieving balance of the ‘good stuff’

Possible goals include:

  • Maintaining a regular bedtime
  • Limiting television/computer time
  • Taking time for prayer/meditation
  • Volunteering

Once a client identifies their goals for each category we write them to meet the SMART requirements:

Specific – details on the goal; instead of ‘get healthy’ the goal would be ‘lose weight’

Measurable – how will we know if it is met, if the goal is to lose weight we need to determine how much

Attainable – is it realistic, no one is going to lose 50 pounds in a month,

Results Orientated/Relevant – is the goal relevant to what I want to achieve, no sense in making a goal to run a marathon if the person hates running

Time Bound – how long do we have to work towards/achieve the goal

Keep in mind when setting goals it’s important to determine both short and long-term goals. Short-term goals help create quick successes and build momentum, which can be a very beneficial step in reaching long-term goals.

If a goal is written to meet the SMART requirements, the client will be able to answer definitively if the goal is being/has been met or not.

  • Nutritional goals are often measured through some sort of a food diary.
  • Physical goals are often measured either through physical accomplishment or by weight/inches/body fat change/loss.
  • Mental goals are often measured in reflective discussions with the client.

I take the goal setting process very seriously because it is what allows me to better understand my clients and their ultimate needs. I would never structure a training program for someone wanting to train for an upcoming half marathon race that only included weight and core training – to meet their goals we would need to incorporate endurance training. Another example is a client who is wanting to lose weight. While cardio is beneficial, one of the best ways to increase weight loss is to build lean muscle mass and increasing the natural metabolic rate.

It’s my mission to help my clients reach their goals, and to do that, each and every program must be fully customized to meet them where they are and designed to help them achieve their goals.

Lessons From Vacation

I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to Colorado. Being a Midwestern girl I had no idea what to expect.

Words cannot express my appreciation for the beautiful landscape. I often found myself limited to simply conveying my awe with the words, “Wow! God did this!”

The vastly different landscape fascinated me and had some pretty dramatic affects on my body.

The first thing I noticed was a dull headache – nothing too painful but definitely an indication that something was wrong. Thankfully there was plenty of water around and after consuming about double what I normally would I found myself returning to normal.

As a runner and one who enjoys cardio workouts I was shocked when we arrived and I “sucked wind” to just get through my first day on the slopes. Simply walking my snowboard from the bottom of the mountain back to the lift left me feeling completely out of breath and thankful for the long lift ride to recover.

The thing about that long ride is that there is also a long distance down! I saw one sign that said the ride down was 2 miles long. As one who learned to snowboard on hills in Michigan the mountain terrain was unlike anything I had ever seen. Needless to say the trip down required more breaks than normal.

By day four the fatigue had set in. My quad muscles were so tired that just standing caused my legs to bounce and shake. As I headed to the top of the mountain I had lost all the courage I had the first couple days. My trips to the bottom were extremely slow to help me stabilize on the snowboard.

After just 3 trips down I realized that my body had simply had enough. The rest of my afternoon would be spent watching college basketball in the lodge.

While disappointing that my last day turned into a bust for snowboarding I was overall thankful for the lessons I learned on one of the best vacations of my life.

First, when on vacation and participating in physical activity it is imperative that you listen to your body. The headache was my first indication of the possibility of altitude sickness. If I had not taken in the amount of fluids that I did I most certainly would have experienced more dramatic effects of the altitude.

Secondly, it was very apparent that just because I was capable of certain things on my own terrain didn’t necessarily mean that I was going to be able to succeed with those same tasks in a new environment. The steeper and longer slopes kept me from perfecting my turns and the lessened oxygen levels kept me from successfully running the stairs at Red Rocks.

The last and probably most important lesson was despite any physical or environmental limitations I learned how to embrace the challenges and have fun! It’s easy to get discouraged when you are accustomed to performing at a certain level and you’re unable to attain it, however, the simple fact of getting out there and experiencing new challenges. Trying something new is an accomplishment in itself and should be enjoyed and celebrated!

Have Some Fun!

Do you find it hard to stick to an exercise program? Do you dread heading to the gym or a class? If so, you might need to reconsider your physical activities.

Being physically fit isn’t just all about pumping iron or running. Don’t get me wrong, strength training and cardio workouts have definite benefits and I encourage you to make them part of your routine. However, if you dread doing both of them how long will you sustain the willpower to keep up with your commitment?

Ever thought about taking a dance class? What about learning a form of martial arts? Or do you enjoy a particular sport? Many recreational centers and universities offer classes and even sport leagues for you to join. This is not only a great way to get active, but also opens opportunities for you to make friendships with people outside of your normal circle.

Let’s face it, we all make time for the things we enjoy and find excuses to avoid the things we don’t.

Take a couple days a week and do the things you enjoy, then fill in the other days with strength and cardio enhancing exercises. I think you’ll find a new appreciation for physical activity and learn to not dread the other typical exercise routines so much.