Why do you workout? Is it to get fit? To lose weight? Get stronger? Or to be healthier?
What you think is your reason for working out isn’t the whole story.
Up to now, whether you’re ready to make a change in how you look, feel, or move, the path you’ll take is similar.
- Choose a fitness goal.
- Choose an intervention (or two) like workout style, equipment, nutrition. (Sleep and recovery are often neglected here.)
- Scroll through the multitude of options and begin either next Monday or next month.
Here’s the thing: Fitness goals that exist outside of what you value in your life don’t last. The behaviors that would lead to you achieving your goals typically don’t last long enough for you to realize the fruits of your efforts. And when you do achieve those goals, maintaining those gains becomes its own challenge.
What’s become painfully clear over the last year is that traditional fitness goals often aren’t connected with anything people value in their everyday lives. Your active participation in the gym membership, the workout program, or the app you’re subscribed to doesn’t last unless there’s a continuous stream of new features to pique your interest. of their value in how you live.
For example, if you value having flexibility and autonomy in your life, then trying to schedule multiple, hour-long workouts in a given week will set you up for failure. Without seeing how the structure didn’t fit into your life, you might then decide to change the workout style, or equipment, without addressing the real issue.
If your goal is to move better so you can play with your kids, you probably don’t need to worry about how much weight you’re adding to your deadlift each week. The strength gains may make it more challenging for you to move freely.
If you enjoy sharing food with friends and family around the table, then focusing on losing two pounds a month with a restrictive diet probably isn’t going to work long-term.
So what’s another approach? How do you translate your values into your fitness goals? I’m glad you asked. Here are some suggestions.
- Choose something to begin training with. The modality doesn’t matter – whether you’re using bodyweight, kettlebells, or dumbbells, or are focusing on strength training, distance running or rock climbing, pick something you like or think you might like to try.
- Then ask yourself, “Does what I’m doing for my training align with what I value?” This can be hard because the fitness world tells us what we should want and value but that might not be what YOU really want and value when all the external voices are quiet.
- If so, keep on with it. If not, consider making a change. That might look like a change in duration, a shift in intensity, or a different focus altogether. If you realize that your lower body strength or mobility feels good to you, then shift to an upper body skill to improve upon.
- Make your decision based on what will meaningfully change something in how you live. This is one of the most challenging parts – reflecting on your past to inform the future you that you’re striving to create. It’s most challenging when you’re alone with your thoughts (and all the ones shared online). I’ve found it’s easier when you can bounce ideas off of another person, whether it’s a dedicated friend or a coach.
With a clear focus in mind (be patient, this can take weeks to years to determine), you can begin to refine your training goals to support the way you want to live your life. Do you want to exude strength, commitment, focus, power, or passion? Which of those qualities is going to help you open the doors of opportunity in work, play, and family? Close your mind to preconceived notions of what you should do for your fitness. Consider what you haven’t tried and what you have done and really enjoyed.
That’s going to help you pick a goal that you’ll want to work towards. This helps you maintain your motivation and consistency over time. And those are the keys to continual progress in most things.