Hi! Welcome to Fit, Food, and Fun Fridays! Today we’ll talk about setting fitness goals that you are excited about. Goal setting is a big part of any fitness plan, but it can also be the most challenging part. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, get stronger, or both, it can be hard to set realistic goals, and even harder to stick with them. But even when you do, you may not be happy with the results. Maybe you’re not losing as much weight as you’d like, or maybe you’re not building muscle as fast as you’d like. Ideally, you should be able to look back at your goals and see that you’ve met them, and you should feel satisfied with your progress. But there’s a difference between being happy with your progress and being happy with your results.
This blog post will not only cover a few ways you can be more consistent with your fitness goals, but also how you can make sure your goals are realistic and attainable. In other words, no matter what your fitness goal is, you need to make sure you are realistic in your expectations and still set yourself up for success. If you are not realistic in your goals, you are setting yourself up for failure.
If you are setting a goal to lose weight, you need to make sure your goal is realistic. If you want to lose 50 lbs, but you don’t work out and you usually eat fast food everyday, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Remember when you were a kid?… you rode your bike until you were tired. Today, you may be measuring each move you make with computerized gym machines and wearable tracking devices. While it’s logical to want to know how you’re doing, this kind of analysis can go too far.
It turns out there are advantages and disadvantages to quantifying your workouts. To live happily with your fitness goals, try these suggestions for enjoying your activities and focusing on what’s useful.
Fitness Goals: Enjoying the Process
Studies have found that monitoring any activity tends to make us increase our output while decreasing our level of satisfaction. You may be able to force yourself to eat turnips and run 10 miles a day, but you’re unlikely to make it a long-term habit unless you like what you’re doing.
1. Vary your activities.
However much you love square dancing, you may still get tired of it after a while. Put together a variety of workouts that will keep you interested and motivated. For example, if you love to run, try a walk-and-run routine. Or if you swim for exercise, try a water aerobics class for a change. The more you vary your activities, the less likely you are to get bored.
2. Be social.
Encourage your family and friends to join you. Buy a couple’s gym membership for you and your spouse. Organize a summer softball league at your office.
3. Listen to your body.
Track your progress without becoming a slave to the numbers. Be flexible so you can switch your workout around if you feel like swimming one day instead of weight lifting.
4. Rest up.
Pay special attention to giving your body enough opportunity to rest and recover. Taking time off reduces your risk of injuries that could sidetrack you for much longer.
5. Think ahead.
It can be difficult to tolerate mild discomfort when you first start an exercise program, especially if you’ve been sedentary for a while. Remember that being active will become more pleasurable as your physical condition improves.
Fitness Goals: Measuring What’s Useful
One-third of consumers who buy wearable devices stop using them within 6 months, according to a survey by Endeavor Partners. When the novelty wears off, you may decide that you don’t really want a computer on your wrist.
After all, it’s easy to get caught up in measuring your heart rate variability and body temperature, but what are you planning to do about them?
Stick with information you need and translate it into action:
1. Clarify your purpose.
Maybe you want to lose weight or lower your blood pressure. Maybe you’re dreaming of your ideal beach body or a more powerful tennis serve. Being specific will help you stay on track.
2. Face reality.
It’s hard to beat Olympic records, and safe weight loss is often a slow process. Breaking your goals down into attainable interim steps will give you more incentives to keep going.
3. Simplify your system.
If you’re already juggling a heavy load at work and home, design your fitness program to be as streamlined as possible. Your goals could be as basic as walking 20 minutes a day or losing an inch off your waist this month.
4. Stick to your budget.
You can evaluate your progress without having to buy the most expensive technology. Browse for free fitness apps that provide research-based recommendations and fun. Check eBay listings for people who are selling all those wearable devices they no longer use.
5. Forget arbitrary numbers.
Walking 10,000 steps a day is a reasonable number to shoot for, but any figure can work as long as it inspires you. Identify your starting point and build from there.
Set fitness goals that work for you. Relish the time you spend working out and focus on the milestones that you want to celebrate.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because the overweight and obesity epidemic is at an all-time high! We are a fat society and it’s killing us prematurely. Not only do I truly believe that you have the power to lose weight to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of obesity so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight, and maybe reverse some of your chronic diseases. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Check out some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Another alternative for dumbbells/free weights are resistance bands. They are great for physical therapy, yoga, strength training, and excellent for traveling.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, regular physical activity, and reducing stress are the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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