As we approach the New Year, it’s almost unavoidable to hear about goals and resolutions. Rather than give an outline explaining the best way to implement new habits or lifestyle changes, I’m going to go through the way that I set fitness goals for myself.
I want to point out that these aren’t short term. This is a slow and steady path to the ultimate goal of wanting to make fitness more of a part of my lifestyle, to gain strength, muscle, mobility, and flexibility. A sort of holistic, all-around level of fit. In general, lifestyle adjustments are the best types of goals you can set for yourself, because they’re much easier to make achievable and maintainable without overwhelming yourself or burning out.
Ultimately, the goal is to seek some level of improvement each month. Whether it’s finding a way to sit less, or drinking an average of one additional bottle of water per day, we’re striving for progress over perfection. I think the biggest deterrent from working on a goal is the fact that people feel they need to be perfect, or that they’re afraid to be a beginner at something.
Few people can flip a switch and change their lifestyle in a sustainable way without burning out after a few weeks. Considering that I’ve been sedentary for most of 2020 (partially unavoidable, thanks to Covid-19) a sudden switch to incorporating a workout or recovery session 5-6x weekly is a major switch.
I want to make it easier on myself.
Instead of expecting to suddenly get my food intake on point, hydration consistent, and activity/fitness levels where I want them – I’m taking a slower approach.
I’m listening more to my favorite fitness/lifestyle podcast, Mind Pump, and learning about different exercise techniques, health tips, and fitness knowledge in general. This, in turn, gives me ideas for trying new things when it comes time to work out, and also helps me be more intentional and knowledgable about what I’m actually doing.
My main goals are as follows:
- hydrate more
- improve flexibility/mobility
- build muscle and athleticism
I broke these into three because I can focus on each individually or combine them. I like breaking them down into pieces because – for example – if I can’t work towards my muscle-building goal, I can at least work on my hydration goal and be sure to down a minimum of 3 big water bottles (I use the 36oz Yeti rambler with the straw/sip lid because I don’t have to refill it as often).
I also decided to focus on compound lifts when it comes to weights, because they’re super effective at building strength and hitting multiple major muscle groups at the same time. This includes squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, push-ups, etc.
It’s also easier for me to know that I want to focus on improving my deadlift, for example, rather than feeling like I have to come up with a leg workout. I can track progress with how much weight I’m able to pull as well as work on improving my form and technique. To me, this is more motivating than having to come up with a leg workout and worry if I used enough weight machines to effectively work the muscle groups I’m trying to target.
Being able to track progress is extremely important with goals because it’s motivating to see yourself improve, but it also helps you stay on track an understand where adjustments might need to be made. It also helps you make micro-goals (ex: adding 5 more push-ups to a set by the end of a month). Micro-goals help you create progress that steadily builds upon itself over time until suddenly you’re looking back and realizing how much you’ve improved.
I’m also a big advocate for micro-improvements, especially when it comes to things like nutrition. I despise diets and diet culture and have experienced a disordered relationship with food, and it sucks. In order to prevent myself from slipping back down that dangerous slope, I’m focusing on micro-improvements when it comes to nutrition.
Whether you like it or not, nutrition is a major component of health and fitness. There’s a saying that you can’t outrun your plate, meaning that if you’re training hard and eating crap, it’s going to be hard to see progress. I like to think that I eat relatively well but, in order to put on muscle, I need to prioritize higher protein content and a higher calorie intake. I downloaded Lifesum to help me track my food and progress (rather than judging myself, I use it as a way to neutrally keep tabs on my food/water intake and see where I’m falling short).
Please note that these calorie & macronutrient goals are unique to me and my own height/weight/activity level – we’re all bio-individual and have different intake needs. 🙂
I like Lifesum because it allows me to see if I need to add more fatty foods or perhaps a supplemental protein drink to stay close to my intake needs. The Type-A side of my personality loves being able to track and reference things so I know where I stand in relation to my goals.
I also want to strike a balance between listening to my body to prevent injury, but also challenging myself to rely on discipline rather than motivation – an absolute must when it comes to fitness goals. Because of this, I want to set a goal of being active around 5 days per week from a combination of weight workouts and flexibility/mobility sessions. If my body isn’t feeling a workout, if I’m sore, tired, or just out of it, I want to at least incorporate 10-20 minutes of stretching.
As I head towards my mid-twenties I’m beginning to notice the negative effects of having neglected stretching for most of my life. I used to not be able to touch my toes and had extremely tight hamstrings (not good) and I also have some musculature issues with my neck and upper back that often give me headaches (also not good) – mobility and stretching can help improve this and prevent future injury/discomfort.
Implementing this as a lifestyle switch will allow me to build up strength and athleticism but will also take care of my body and set me up for a longer, healthier future (catch me doing push-ups when I’m 100).
For now, I plan to take it one step at a time and focus on small improvements weekly and monthly. I’ll be documenting the journey and gearing a bit more towards fitness/wellness content – so I’m getting back to the roots of why I started Lauryn’s Lifestyle in the first place!
Until next time, you can find me on Instagram @Lauryns.Lifestyle for more!