One area I feel people tend to neglect is actually the most important; this is setting goals and targets. Setting goals gives your mind focus and can help to keep you motivated at the bleakest of times. I often find that the reason people drop off the fitness radar following January is that they never have really set out their own personal plan. At FitVision this is something we ensure all clients do by starting with the Personal Objectives sheet.
It is important too though to understand what a realistic goal is whether weight loss or improving your fitness is the goal. To ensure you are not setting unrealistic targets and actually becoming de-motivated by the process we have outlined realistic targets and time frames. Over 3-6 week periods is normally the time frame we set short term goals with clients. The main reason being any longer and clients tend to drop off the plan. With a 3 week target coming up the focus and results tend to be improved.
The main outcome for anybody on a weight loss plan should not just be to lose weight though, contrary to all the latest dramatic television show weigh-ins. The main goal should be to lose fat. Is it not the same thing you might ask? Not necessarily as the key to long term results is an improved metabolism. Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories so in essence your metabolism is your body’s engine.
With that in mind the goal should really be to increase the metabolism not just lose weight, when we starve our bodies and over exercise the body will burn fat but it will also burn lean mass and maintaining lean mass is vital to increasing metabolism long term.
By increasing lean mass and decreasing fat mass you have a body that now burns more calories per hour everyday of every year. It sounds good but this is genuinely what is happening when this occurs, you are upgrading your engine if you like.
Take an approach in which you measure your results in fat loss and lean mass gained (body fat calliper test) you will see a much clearer picture of how your body is responding to your new nutrition and exercise routine. We often hear people say the scales are the worst tool to judge your progress and this is why. Weight loss and fat loss are two different things and the key is increasing your metabolism by burning fat and increasing lean mass.
When you are looking to progress with your cardiovascular fitness the same principles apply it's important to set yourself a gradual goal of small increases each week and not to do too much too soon. How you measure this is vital also for example if you want to see an increase in your running pick one route every 3-4 weeks to test yourself and try this session at the same time of day to ensure consistency in testing. You will only get disheartened if you are expecting to see a noticeable change every single week or in every single run, the body just does not work like that.
With that in mind here are some basic realistic targets we set with clients and if you are achieving these you are well on track to achieve long term sustainable results.
These targets are realistic and if you are getting close to those numbers every 3 weeks you are certainly on track. Remain positive and if you do fall short of the numbers suggested assess your last three weeks to see where you may have gone wrong and aim to make small changes in the next three weeks.