A common and often debilitating flaw in our design of fitness goals lies in the identification of our underlying motivations for desiring to improve our fitness. Fundamentally, most of us don’t train to be able to finish a triathlon or jog a few miles because we want to lose ten pounds or have more toned abs. We follow through on the training regimen because we want to feel better about ourselves, and our minds associate more toned abs with increased happiness. The toned abs and the completed triathlon, while worthwhile intermediate milestones, are merely symbolic of the true benefits of the process that accompanies the fitness regimen: a feeling of accomplishment and an improved sense of self-worth.
My fundamental problem with establishing a goal, such as weight loss as a primary goal, is that it contains a definite end-point and, therefore, precludes the possibility of sustaining the same sense of accomplishment on a permanent basis.
What is the number #1 claim that virtually every weight loss program advertises? It’s just that – weight loss. And of the millions of people who successfully follow a weight-loss program, how many maintain their new, lower weight after completing the program? Not many!
The point is that it is critical to the long-term viability of an exercise program that we are honest with ourselves about our ultimate goals. For many of us, a primary goal may be as generic as improving our health and our level of happiness through exercise. Once we establish our fundamental goals as the foundation of our exercise program, we can then identify intermediate goals and, in turn, determine the individual steps – the actual training plan – that will enable us to attain the intermediate goals (e.g. losing 10 pounds or completing a 10-kilometer road race).
Being honest about our ultimate exercise goals also allows us to derive greater enjoyment from the individual components of the exercise plan – the process – and to place less pressure on intermediate goals. For the majority of us, the greatest rewards of a workout regimen are derived not from the attainment of a goal that culminates an exercise plan, but from the process itself. Running the 10-kilometer race or watching the bathroom scale arrive at a more appealing goal number will probably not prompt a sudden change in our level of contentment or our outlook on life. It is the process that elicits from us the changes that we sought when we embarked on the fitness plan. For most of us, this realization is inevitable and necessary if we wish to maintain our fitter lifestyle.
Published On: March 02, 2006