Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Three reasons why we fail at our goals to achieve a “better body” - Gillian Ward

 We have all heard that when it comes to training, getting fit, making changes to your health, your body, or other goals, the hardest part is often getting started.  We have all been in a position in our lives when we felt a need for change, an improvement.  It’s a natural human emotion.  Every year, millions make New Year’s resolutions in hopes of being “better” in the year to come.

I have found that the hardest part when setting out on a new goal is not starting out, it’s finishing.  It’s following through and seeing the new goal to completion.  This happens for three reasons, poor choice of goals, lack of guidance, and a poor understanding on how to properly achieve the new goal.

1.  Poor goal setting -

The first reason, the poor choice of goals, is the hardest to learn.  We often make goals on a whim.  We are all part of a society that is visually oriented.  We are inundated with magazines that show impossibly beautiful people and promises of how, “In just 30 days!”, we too can have abs of steel.

A friend of mine once said, “if a person’s body looks like they have been uncomfortable for a period of time to achieve that body, they probably have been.”  There are no 30 day tricks, secrets, or other holy grails that will give us the body that we see so proudly displayed on the covers of the magazines.  If it were that simple, we would all have “abs of steel”, “sleek thighs”, and “bodacious booties”.  These photos are in a controlled environment with lighting effects, makeup, and fail to represent the true appearance of the model.

The reality of the matter is that training for a “look” or attempting to “attack a body part” is often wrought with frustration and malcontent as we seek the body of another versus a better version of ourselves.  Disappointment sets in, and we quit.  In order for a goal to have the potential to be achieved it must be measurable, tangible and in accordance with the effort that you are willing to put forth.  A goal is more than a wish.

A goal requires concerted effort over duration with a plan of attack. To yield the most reward it should be lofty yet possible.  For a goal to be possible it must be achievable with our own god given raw materials. Simply put, genetics are a huge factor and must be considered when choosing personal aesthetic and performance goals.

2.  Lack of proper guidance - 

The second reason, “lack of guidance,” is equally hard to manage.  Open Google and type in “workout routine” and we are immediately crushed with millions of hits on how to properly work out.  These programs are often taken from routines that someone famous once said they did, or once said they endorsed.

Our natural response is that if “Jennifer Anniston changed her body in just 10 minutes a day, I can too!” But again, this is simply not the case.  Training for a better you does not require a doctorate in kinesiology - however a properly executed routine will take into consideration your goals, lifestyle, time constraints, injuries, health concerns, familiarity with training, equipment available, as well as many other factors.   With proper guidance we will set out on a path that is sustainable, will change as our abilities change, and grow with us as we continue our journey toward our ever-changing goals.  It is most helpful when guidance works hand in hand with accountability.  Following a well-planned results oriented program works even better when there is someone to answer to and check in with frequently. You will have questions and reach sticking points along the way.  A little nudge from the right person whether it is an experienced trainer or coach or even a helpful family member may be what you need to stay on track when the going gets tough.

3.  Incorrect methods - 

The third reason, a lack of understanding of how to properly achieve a new goal is multifaceted in its complexity.  While this may seem as though it relies heavily on the second reason we fail to reach our goals, a “lack of guidance”, it actually has more to do with the goal we chose itself.  I stated earlier that our society is a visually oriented one.  As a result of this our goals are often visually oriented.  This is a perfectly natural leap.   After all, we go to the gym, we bust our humps, we should be able to “see” a difference, right?

While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, our methods to achieve our goals are wrong.   Using our “razor abs” example, our new gym goer will head to the gym and do 100’s of crunches, side bends, and other “core” exercises in an attempt to get his abs to “pop”.  Our new gym goer will stop eating ALL sugar, resort to extreme measures regarding diet.  After three weeks we no longer see our new gym goer.  The abs are no more prominent, the new gym goer with a goal of “razor abs” binged on cake and ice cream and is discouraged.

As we like to say at Crystal Coast Strength and Conditioning, “form follows function.”  What we mean by that is that our bodies are a reflection of our capabilities.  To take this to an extreme, Arnold Schwarzenegger had the body he had because he was strong and capable.  It was certainly assisted with diet, however he did not win Mr Olympia seven times by doing crunches, side bends, and skipping ice cream.

Instead of setting a goal for “razor abs”, set a goal to achieve a physical feat.  That feat can be to run a mile, or 5 miles.  It may be to deadlift 100lbs, or bench 225lbs.  The goal may be to be able to climb a rope, or do a chin up.  The goal may be as simple as skipping rope for 100 skips without missing.  The process of achieving that goal will force our body to change as it adapts to the new stress.  The associated adaptation will result in a physical change that we can see with our eyes, and hopefully an appreciation for the hard work accomplished.   The pursuit of a physical trait is difficult to measure, track, and often impossible to achieve given the methods we find in the magazines at the supermarket.  In reality, those routines are “finishing” routines.  Routines used by the already fit and strong to achieve a small change for picture to be taken in a controlled setting in a studio.

Seek personal improvement through measurable performance markers vice appearance and be a better, happier you.

Follow Gillian on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/GillianMounsey
Crystal Coast Strength and Conditioning - http://www.crystalcoaststrength.com/

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