Setting effective goals

Hamster wheel today (or elliptical, as normal people call it) to warm up all my sore parts. I spent 45 minutes on it with a stupid fashion magazine and a stupid real estate show on HGTV with my brain 100% in neutral. I hardly even noticed the time pass, but I felt much better afterwards and even more so after a good stretch.

The crowds at the gym are starting to ramp up again, as people start their pre-holiday panicking and sign up for their new year’s membership. The mood at the gym gets a lot more negative this time of year– the people who go year-round, go because they enjoy it or they’re habituated to it, but the new and irregular visitors engage in so much negative self-talk as motivation. In response, I’m relentlessly positive about exercise– probably to the point of driving people nuts with my chipper responses and permissiveness.

Let’s be real, my goals and methodology around exercise are not typical. Most people start going to the gym expecting to work out regularly, eat well, and lose weight as a result. However, many people don’t have the dramatic body changes they were hoping for and, after a period of time, they get discouraged and stop. Some folks repeat this cycle repeatedly, and each year they beat themselves up again as they fail to achieve their goals.

To paraphrase Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing something repeatedly and expecting different results. We fail to achieve the goals and blame our bodies, but it’s the goals that need adjusting, our bodies are just doing their thing! Since weight loss is profoundly difficult and largely out of our control, it’s much more effective to focus on goals that are achievable and controllable.

Think about what really motivates you– do you want to have better endurance? be stronger? more flexible? and set small increments of success. Run for 10 minutes longer. Lift 15 pounds more. Get your nose closer to your knee. And then build on your success and see where you go!

On the journey towards our goals, our bodies may or may not change. But chances are they’ll feel better– and fitter. And putting the positive reinforcement, from both the physical benefits, and from the achievement of the small goals, around an exercise practice is an excellent way to make it stick and keep you going back to the gym– with a smile.

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One Response to Setting effective goals

  1. Pingback: 2014 Recap | Running While Fat

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