Saturday, September 8, 2012

Setting goals

Effective goal setting means more than just writing down a wishlist and posting it on your fridge. Here's a few things you should keep in mind when setting goals and making an effective plan to reach them.

1. Determine the goal in a measurable way and set a deadline
Don't use vague terms. The phrase "I want to be stronger and better than before" won't carry you far, since it doesn't hold a specific, measurable goal or a deadline. I've been browsing a lot of fitness blogs and the phrase "I don't want to be perfect, I just want to be better than yesterday" comes up frequently. You probably know that I'm not very fond of this, since it doesn't really push you anywhere. Rather than saying "I want to be better" you should strive for a specific goal, like a specific dress size/body fat percentage/lifting a precise weight. These are just examples. Make sure you make the goals for yourself and no one else.
The date is really important! Make sure you have a specific deadline, or you'll procrastinate. Set a goal for this fall and for each single workout. Write down your goals. When you remember where you're going, you'll get there much faster. The more precise you are, the better.

2. Assess your starting physiology
Make an appointment with a personal trainer or a healthcare specialist. I recommend a full body composition analysis, for example the InBody or a body fat measurement with clamps. You'll get a realistic, objective analysis of your body composition.
In addition to the InBody or clamp measurements, I recommend a fitness test. Depending on your goals, a muscle fitness test (repeated squats, push-ups, back extensions and sit-ups) or an aerobic test (12 minute submaximal fitness test with a stationary bike or Cooper's test) are the ones to do. In case you have a specific goal like benchpressing 300 pounds, you should definitely test your bench press1RM (1 repetition maximum).
A hormonal profile, adrenal stress index and metabolic rate tests are excellent in assessing your situation in the beginning. Ask your physician more about testing your metabolism.
Assessing your starting physiology also helps you to get a realistic view of your limitations. For example, if you have a low testosterone level, you probably won't gain a lot of muscle mass in a short time.

3. Ask yourself the question "What am I willing to do to reach my goal?"
How many times a week are you ready to work out?
How much are you willing to change your diet?
Be realistic about these changes. A radical change in diet or exercise routines is never a good thing, since you're not likely to keep it up for a long time. Make small changes! I recommend one change a week, for example starting off with balancing your breakfast. I'll write a post about changing your diet in a few weeks.
No goals are achieved without making some sacrifices! This means that you'll really need to push yourself out of your comfort zone to gain results. People are used to staying inside their comfort zone, never changing their workouts because it's tough in the beginning. If you've been doing the same "fatburn" program on the same elliptical trainer for two years, you should definitely mix it up and try something different.
Remember: if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.
Don't underestimate how lapses in discipline can affect your training. If you drink like a fish on Friday and Saturday, Sunday and Monday won't be productive days when it comes to working out.

4. Determine the behaviours that go with step 3
Can you hear the difference between phrases "I'm trying to lose weight" and "I'm losing weight"? Stop trying and start doing. The same thing goes for behavioural changes, like "I will take my Omegas in the morning" vs. "I take my Omegas in the morning".
Your subconscious doesn't recognize the past or the future, so write positive behaviours in the present tense. That subtle change in phrasing changes your way of thinking and makes you change your behaviour on a longer term. Tell yourself that you can do this.

5. Make a list of intermediate goals with specific deadlines
You should be able to repeat the body composition tests (as presented in step 2) on a regular basis, for example every three to four months. If you're not progressing the way you should be, make a change in behaviour. Consult a trainer if you need help with balancing your workouts and diet.

6. Keep a detailed diet and training diary
Diet logs seem really hard to keep for some people, because they require honesty and seriously planning your meals. A well kept log helps you monitor and evaluate your progress and efficacy of your training program.
I recommend writing down feelings as well. A dietary journal is incomplete without a log about hunger (on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being "not hungry at all" and 5 being "starving"). The same comes to training logs as well, write down the amount of reps you performed, the breaks you took and the weights you used - don't forget to write down the feeling you got from working out. It's really fun to look back on your old training and diet journals - I had so much fun reading my training log while I was on Atkins... Jeez, I really don't recommend working out like a maniac on really low carbs. But that's another story.

By following these steps you will reach your goals, just be true to yourself and your trainer. Give these few steps a try - for a change!

Tavoitteiden saavuttaminen vaatii tarkkaa suunnittelua ja selkeän, aikataulutetun ohjelman. Tässä lyhyesti muutama asia, joka kannattaa pitää mielessä tavoitteita laatiessa.
1. Aseta selkeä tavoite ja aikaraja. Mitä tarkempi olet tavoitteesi kanssa, sen parempi. Pyri välttämään epäselviä lauseita kuten "haluan olla parempi kuin ennen" - käytä mielummin mitattavia tavoitteita kuten vaatekokoa, rasvaprosenttia tai painoa, jonka haluat nostaa kuntosalilla. Aikarajan määrittäminen on erittäin tärkeää, ettei tavoitteesi saavuttaminen viivästy!
Aseta siis kokonaisvaltainen tavoite ja jaa se pienempiin osiin. Jokaisella harjoituksellakin pitäisi olla selkeä tavoite, jotta pysyt vauhdissa. Jos tarvitset apua tavoitteiden asettamisessa, ota yhteys personal traineriin tai fysioterapeuttiin.
2. Arvioi lähtötilanteesi. Suosittelen alkuun ainakin kehonkoostumusmittausta (esim. InBody tai pihtimittaus), lisäksi kuntotestiä (lihaskuntotestit, polkupyöräergometritesti tai Cooperin testi, riippuen tavoitteistasi). Jos tavoitteenasi on nostaa penkistä 100 kg, tehdään alkuun 1RM (yhden toiston maksimi) - testi. Lisäksi suosittelen ainakin hormonitasapainon testausta verikokein.
3. Kysy itseltäsi, mitä olet valmis muuttamaan saavuttaaksesi tavoitteesi. Kuinka monta kertaa viikossa olet valmis treenaamaan? Mitä olet valmis muuttamaan ruokavaliossasi?
4. Tee päätökset vaadittavan käyttäytymisen suhteen. Kerro alitajunnallesi preesenssissä, mitä aiot tehdä saavuttaaksesi tavoitteesi. Huomaatko eron lauseiden "yritän pudottaa painoani" ja "pudotan painoani" välillä? Kerro itsellesi, että pystyt tähän.
5. Tee itsellesi lista välitavoitteista aikarajoineen. Aiemmin suorittamasi testit pitää pystyä uusimaan tietyin väliajoin. Testien uusittaessa saat arvion siitä, kuinka treeni- ja ravinto-ohjelmasi on toiminut.
6. Pidä yksityiskohtaista treeni- ja ruokapäiväkirjaa. Kirjaa ylös kaikki syömisesi ja treenit, samoin tunteesi treenin aikana - ruokapäiväkirjaan kirjaa myös nälän tunne asteikolla 1-5 (1= ei ollenkaan nälkä, 5= kovin mahdollinen nälkä). Ruoka- ja treenipäiväkirjoja on myös hauskaa lukea myöhemmin, kun tilanteesi muuttuu.

Seuraa näitä askelia ja koe muutos!

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