Sometimes I wonder how many people that train are satisfied with their results? I would suspect that those that don’t continue training are not satisfied with the results they are seeing. But there must be some that aren’t seeing the outcome they had hoped for and continue chugging along. Maybe they feel if they stopped that their health and fitness would be a lot worse than it currently is. Or maybe they really enjoy the process and the fitness community that they train with.
I’m not sure?
If we look at just the group that doesn’t achieve their goal and then quits I would bet that something was missing. And by something I actually means three things. And these would be the plan, the execution and the review. If we don’t have these three things in place it makes it really hard, if not impossible, to achieve the best health and fitness possible.
Look at it this way.
Imagine if back when you were in school you just showed up. You hadn’t selected any classes. You didn’t know which rooms to go to. You didn’t bring any books, pens or anything to write on. There wasn’t an agreed upon time to start. And the day finished whenever.
And let’s imagine as well that the teachers all showed up at random times. And there was no clear assignment of teaching areas. There weren’t homerooms assigned for each grade. No lesson plans had been created. And there was no consideration as to what would be taught, to which students and at which level.
All that was known or agreed upon was that there was this structure, that was the school, and there were people, usually older with more knowledge, who showed up to pass on some knowledge to the younger people known as students. That’s it. Nothing else was known or arranged.
How well would this arrangement work out? How many of these students would graduate or do well on standardized testing? How many of these students would achieve scholarships and achieve entry into university?
In other words, how well would this plan work?
Not very well, would it?
This is how many people approach their health and fitness training. There isn’t a set schedule of when this will happen. They haven’t set any goals for their training. They haven’t arranged for any teaching or coaching to help and encourage them through the more challenging sections. They don’t have a training partner to hold them accountable. Or to push them to do more or simply give them a spot.
But it gets worse.
They haven’t planned their sleep in advance to wake up for an early morning training session. They haven’t packed clothes for the gym or food to recover. They don’t even know why they are getting started in the first place. Other than it’s January. And it seems like this what everyone else is doing.
Chances are this will not end with a positive outcome.
So the first step for success with our health and fitness involves having a plan. And we break this up into 4 components. The four components are our why, what we will do in the gym, what we will plan for in the kitchen and how we will plan our recovery. Below are some details on each.
Plan for Why
Take some time and ask yourself why you would want to get started on a health and fitness routine? Is it to look better? Is it to feel better? Is it to play better? Maybe it’s a combination of these. Once you’ve identified which one(s) apply, think about why you want each of these? What will achieving your goal mean to you? If you don’t achieve your goal what would that mean?
One way to figure this out is to do this exercise with a friend or spouse. When it is your turn to ask the questions act like a two year old. By that I mean ask lots of why’s in a row. For example, consider the following.
Person #1 (Goal): To deal with my knee pain
Person #2 : Why?
#1: So I can ski again
#1: Because I miss going with family/friends to the hill
#1: Because this is something I love doing with the people I enjoy most
Can you see how the training becomes more about spending time with friends and family than it is about dealing with knee pain. The training will be a means to an ends. And it will allow us to stay with it when obstacles come up.
Plan for the Gym
As you’re getting ready to train you want to know what you’re going to do once you get there. If you’re not an expert in this field how are you going to figure out what to do? Will it be the attractive guy or girl on social media that has tons of followers? Will it be the fitness nut at the office who seems to be in the know? Maybe the best solution would be someone who went to school for this career and continues to invest in on-going education.
Your plan should be a road map showing where you are and where you want to end up. It should break up the steps, like segments on a trip, to show what you’ll do and what’s to come. The plan should be safe, effective and fun. In all my years doing this no one has ever said their goal was to be sore, sweaty and out of breath. Yet that’s what many fitness places are selling these days.
Besides having a plan for when you arrive at the gym you want to know when you’ll be there and with whom. You’ll want to know when you’ll be done so you can plan the rest of your day around this. Did you get that last part? You’ll plan the rest of your day around your fitness rather than trying to find the time to fit in fitness.
Plan the Kitchen
If you were going to take a road trip across North America you might make plans ahead of time. You might check the condition of the your vehicle. How are the tires, wheels and brakes? Is the vehicle running smoothly? How is the oil? Do you have a GPS? If you need a special type of fuel i.e. diesel, can you find this everywhere on your route?
We wouldn’t head out on a road trip with out getting our vehicle ready and topped up with fuel, oils, lubricants and additives but for some reason we expect our bodies to give us an extra level of performance with our regular nutrition. Or worse, sometimes with no nutrition.
Have you ever known somebody to complain about their lack of progress in the gym but they don’t fuel themselves optimally? As well, they may point out someone else that doesn’t train as frequently or intensely yet achieves better results. Maybe the other person is killing it in the kitchen and doing just enough in the gym?
To plan for the kitchen you need to know what you will eat and when. You need to grocery shop with a list. You need to have the set up to prepare foods, the time to do so and the knowledge of what foods to include in your plan.
Plan for Recovery
Every now and again someone will start training after a period of inactivity. And sometimes this person will have been active when they were younger. Maybe they even strength trained when they were younger. Upon their first day back they want to pick up right where they left off.
It’s as though they still have their training program from 1997 when they were in college and they could flip to their last workout and see they did 5 sets of 3 reps of back squats at 365 lbs.
Seems reasonable, right? They’ve done this before so why not now? Well a 20-25 year break from lifting might be the most obvious reason. But as well this person might now have a career, a spouse, a family, a mortgage and numerous injuries over the years.
Some of us still look in the mirror and see the 23 year old that just graduated university. And we also forget how much more is on our plate these days. Plus we just don’t bounce back like we did when we were younger.
So the solution has to look more like an accounting ledger. And one that balances out. As we add something to one side of the book we need to see an entry on the other side that balances things out. We need to reconcile our entries.
Think of your training now in the same way. For a 10 km run on the weekend budget in a 30 minute post-run stretch. For the three times per week lifting, book in for a massage every couple of weeks. Planning on playing in a sports league? Maybe look into a hot tub for a good soak in between games and practices.
In the coming weeks I’ll cover the execution and review part of success. For now have the best plan you can by incorporating the four components above. The more specifically you can define these components the better your chance of success. And if you need help getting started make sure to connect with one of our coaches to help figure out your plan.