Goals and measures

“I’ve been dieting for 3 months now and I have reached my target weight loss, but I’m not entirely happy.  I may weigh what I planned but I don’t look or feel as good as I had hoped” – sound familiar?

Starting with the wrong goal or using the wrong measure will surely result in disappointment!

It’s best to use an example.

Poor goal – I want to lose 20lb in 3 months.

Using the SMART goal criteria – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.  This goal ticks all the boxes!  Let’s move the clock forward 3 months.  The 20 lb weight loss has been achieved through a dietary calorie deficient which is not maintainable ofrhealthy.  The weight loss is down to water loss, muscle loss and fat loss.  And the look in the mirror test is disappointing.  Roll forward another 3 months and the 20 lb loss has been put back on again as the strict diet was not sustainable and the weight lost through muscle loss has been replaced by fat gain.  Net result 6 months on and the person weighs the same but has less lean muscle, more fat and a view that diets don’t work.

A better goal – I want to become leaner, stronger and healthier in the next 3 months.  Start by taking some measurements – weight, waist, hip, upper arm, neck, calf, thigh, skin fold measures (if possible) take a photograph or two. Do a fitness test to determine current position for muscular endurance, strength, cardio vascular fitness and flexibility.

This initial goal doesn’t hit all the criteria that the first goal did but it’s based around better measures.  Create the right foundations, do the right things and see the result.

Work with a personal trainer or educate yourself – look how to eat clean, do resistance training twice per week, move every day, perform some steady state cardio, add some interval training, ormaybe do a HIIT class.

Roll on 3 months and test again.  You discover that you are leaner, your body weight is down 15 lb but because you did the skin fold test your confident that the majority of that is fat loss.  You have made good gains in muscular endurance, strength, flexibility and CV fitness.  Subjectively, you feel better first thing in the morning, you have more bounce to your step and feel that this is the start of a longer more fulfilling journey.

Once you have 3 months under your belt your goals will become more specific – e.g. run a 5k race in sub 30-mins.  Squat bodyweight for 10 reps.  Perform 30 press-ups in 1 minute. Drop body-fat from 20% to 18%.

Takeaway – measure the right things, define the correct goals and take your time -these should be life goals, not just for summer.