With one month of 2011 gone (already), I think it’s time a great time to assess how this year’s fitness goals are going. What fitness goals, you might ask? If you haven’t set any, then don’t worry and read on. There are still 11 months to go and here are 5 tips that can get you heading in the right direction.
1. Choose an event.
I have heard many many times the usual fitness goal stated like this: “I just want to lose _____ lbs”. If this intention hasn’t worked in the past, maybe it’s time to “trick yourself” a little, with the same end result but using a different target to get there. This is where having an event in mind helps. Women who set this goal, say after buying a wedding dress a tad too small, seem to find the determination to get the job done. How is that? There is a set day and a very distinctive mental picture in mind (not busting any seams being one possibility).
Sporting events work very well for fitness goals as well. Nothing like gearing your “hit and miss” exercise routine focused on a finite goal. It helps direct energy and requires having a plan of action to complete the event. I find signing up WAY in advance really helps with this too. Even better, choose an event that requires a flight to get there…commit to the event (a holiday perhaps), book the flight and don’t look back!
2. Do something different or NEW.
I fall into the category of “cardio-queen”. For many years I disregarded the benefits of yoga for myself (I could recommend it to others but it didn’t seem to “fit” for me)…I couldn’t imagine being still could be exercise, coming from a long history or endurance sports. What I didn’t know is yoga was EXACTLY what I needed, and specifically for the reason that it was “forced” stiffness. Not only can stillness require great balance (ie. Tree pose) but it can also require calmness of mind. A fit person needs to know how to calm her mind to manage elevated cortisol levels (to name one negative effect of stress) and cope in situations like racing because it helps lower heart rate and breathing rate. Next, exercises like yoga and Pilates require a high level of body awareness. I personally don’t think you can raise yourself to new heights of fitness WITHOUT body awareness. Body awareness allows us to make small alterations in our movement patterns (which may make us more efficient and/or more comfortable) so that be can go longer! Body awareness can also alert us early on to injuries that might be brewing.
Yoga is just one example of doing something different or NEW. Try a dance class! Join a team if you always exercise alone. Go out alone, if you always exercise in a group…When’s the last time you ventured outside your exercising “comfort zone”? You could be pleasantly surprised!
3. Figure out your weakest link.
This could be any number of things…are you eating in a way that supports your fitness level now and for the level you intend to go, or are you always feeling low on energy? Is your habitual posture (aka hunched over a desk for 8 hours a day, plus a one hour commute each way) causing you to feel stiff in the wrong places and causing you to work against your own body? Picture shortened hip flexors restricting your stride in running or cross-country skiing. Is your core weak compared to the rest of your body? Do you do strength training but never, ever, stretch?
Seek out an expert if you don’t know what your weakest link is, because we know what happens at the weakest link…..If you need help locating an expert, I can suggest the following for you, as a starting place:
Need more nutritious fuel? Visit Adam Hart’s website, buy his book or contact him for a consultation. http://www.poweroffood.com
Are you stuck in a bad posture that may be affecting your ability to move fluidly and freely? Consult your favourite therapist. You can read about them here.
Suspect you have a weak core/back/shoulder/ankle? Contact a physiotherapist, then get yourself a good personal fitness consultant like Krista Biggar (who knows core inside and out). Find out how her Pilates training could help you here.
Need to stretch to balance out the shortening that happens from lots of strength training, visit The Yoga Studio at http://theyogastudiosquamish.com
Maybe your training program needs tweaking. Using fitness testing tools helps identify areas that need work. Jen’s new studio will be offering different types of fitness testing. Find out more about her space here.
4. Have a strategy for managing the obstacles that might pop up.
So, you may fall off course, somewhere along the way. It happens. Stuff pops up that distracts or steers you temporarily off course. Return to the course as soon as possible. As per #3, seek out help from experts, call them your “A-Team” or whatever works. Going alone, on the fitness journey, is a surefire way to NOT reach your optimal fitness. You may achieve SOME fitness but you are way better off with the wisdom of others.
Secondly, figure out what motivates you. Time and time again, I’ve read that intrinsic motivation is the strongest and most effective. (Intrinsic means “coming from within”). What gives you that warm fuzzy feeling? your kids, your spouse, the freedom to move easily, climbing a new peak? Find the motivation that gets your emotions tugged at and that is how you get yourself out of bed on a dark wet day to work on your fitness goals…they will pull you through the blips and obstacles along the way.
Lastly, actually write down the most likely “obstacles” and plot out a plan for each circumstance. Likely, this exercise will show you that everything (even a massive snow fall…) has a solution, if you look for it!
5. “Never never never never never never never give up.” Sir Winston Churchill.
Do you have a 6th tip to add to this list? How will you achieve optimal fitness in 2011. Add your comments below.