I had a thought dawn on me this week. Why do I exercise? But more specifically, why do I exercise the way I exercise. Why do I lift weights? Do I have specific goals I’m training for? When I really dug deep I narrowed it down to the fact that I want to live a long, healthy, adventurous, functional life without health limitations. Secondly I want to feel STRONG and CONFIDENT in my own skin. I feel the most confident in my skin when I can see muscle definition, and when I only have a small amount to pinch on my love handles ;) That doesn’t mean I don’t love my body at all times, I just know what makes me feel the most confident. Everyone’s different. But what I want to focus on today is setting up your goals and training with a purpose behind them. To get the most quality out of your life, rather than just running everyday because that’s what you’ve been told to do, even though your body may hurt, and you may hate it.
I was listening to a podcast with Craig Ballantyne, the author of “the cardio myth” and “The perfect day formula” and many other great books, and it sparked these thoughts. You can listen to it here. He talks about how so many people over the last few decades have fallen into thinking they have to do a bunch of cardio to lose weight. Thinking if they miss a day of running, they are going to gain weight. Long cardio workouts are awesome if you’re training for an endurance sport, or if you just love it to clear your mind (my reason for running), but its not the magic path to weight loss for everyone. In fact, lots of people end up gaining weight while training for a marathon, or training on an endurance program because they think they can eat a lot more carbohydrates, or any calories because the calorie expenditure is typically way over calculated. When machines tell you how many calories you’re burning, the calculation is usually 40% higher than reality! But thats a bit of a tangent for another discussion. Back to purposeful goals.
Our goals should make us happy right? They should lead us to a rich & full life. With this in mind, I would advise you to step away from the goals that will not add to the quality of your life. This may take some thoughtful prioritizing. I’m talking about the goals some of us may have to be super ripped & have a six pack, but we’re miserable because we can’t ever enjoy food or going out with friends. We feel more trapped in this pursuit than it may be worth. When it comes to eating and nutrition, the goal should be to FEEL great and have energy. With that focus rather then dieting to lose weight, I guarantee your choices will start to transition towards the healthier direction without thinking too much about it.
Take a minute now with a pen and paper & write down the reason you exercise and your long term goal with it. Get to the root reason. For example, I work out because it puts me in a good mood (I’m really grumpy without it), boosts my confidence (I like the way I look from years of exercise), and I am so much more functionally strong in my day to day life (I love being able to participate in hikes, skiing, any activity without feeling like I could pass out). With all of this I can better do my part to bring goodness into the world. When I feel awesome, I can bring awesomeness. And as I said before, I want to live a long, healthy, adventurous, functional life without health limitations or confidence struggles.
Now the next layer is setting goals within our training that will lead to that overall long term goal. So if I want to be functional into old age, I’m going to train functionally. I’m going to incorporate functional strength movements into my workouts. Forget the muscle isolation machines where you sit down, put your arm in a crazy contraption & move some weight in one direction. I’m going to focus on free weights, barbell, TRX, and kettle bell exercises where I’m constantly using my core and stabilizers to move weight that could go in any direction. I’m going to foam roll and stretch to avoid injuries, or pain down the road.
The next layer is to get specific within those goals. What are your fitness goals for this year, that will eventually lead to your overall goal for a high quality life. Maybe you want to lose some body fat for a beach trip this summer. Your going to want to incorporate some cardio intervals into your training, and believe it or not, you’re going to want to LIFT WEIGHTS. The muscle you gain will help you burn more fat. If you don’t have the muscle underneath the fat layer than you’re never going to get that “lean/toned” look you’re going for. You’re going to want to work on your eating as well. Maybe you want to do your first Spartan Race this year. You need to be strong enough to pull yourself over a wall so you’re doing more strength based exercise, working with pull ups, or whatever it is you need increased strength for. And depending on the length of the race you will want some endurance training. Incorporating rep ranges above 15 will get you there. There’s lots of different ways to train, and beliefs behind certain rep ranges and their effectiveness, but having short term goals and your long term goals and your “why” in mind makes it so much easier to get motivated and plan out your training with purpose.
To wrap this up, I just want to encourage you to find your purpose with all this fitness stuff. It helps to keep in mind the long term picture of a quality, healthy life. That means walking more everyday, filling your body with nutritious foods, avoiding processed garbage food, maintaining a healthy body weight, and focusing on functional strength and mobility. Also don’t neglect the rest and recovery part! When our goals align with our long term desires, we’ll see results, and we’ll feel the difference!
Thanks for reading! Leave me any comments below, I’d love to hear from you!