29 August 2013 Long-Term vs. Short-Term Goals in Exercise and Weight Loss
In a recent article by James Clear, written for the Huffington Post, Clear offers up some reflective points about how to approach weight loss, health and exercising. They are points worth repeating here, as they touch on the difference and importance between short-term and long-term goals.
“You need to commit for the long term,” writes Clear. The goal of weight loss is borne out of healthy living. “The goal is not to lose 40 pounds in the next 12 weeks,” he writes. “The goal is to regain your health for the rest of your life.” Simple, yes. This part of the journey should be. We are not out to quickly correct mistakes we’ve been making for years. We are out there sweating and calorie counting to regain our confidence, our joy, and yes, our health.
The results will come, says Clear, but only with a commitment to the long-term process. This is reminiscent of a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, an early 20th century poet, who writes in Letters to a Young Poet:
I would like to beg you... as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
“You need to set a schedule for your training.” Going to the gym, according to Clear, should not be a big deal. Going to the gym should be your “normal” – not a sacrifice, not a burden, not an obligation, just normal.
Without a schedule we become dependent on how we feel – and that can have the exact opposite effect than what our bodies need. Feeling tired after work? That’s the time when exercise can give us energy. But, too late, we’ve already talked ourselves out of a trip to the gym because we are tired.
Don’t wait to feel motivated to exercise, says Clear. Just make a schedule for it and do it. It’s the same, he says, as scheduling the rest of your life around your kid’s baseball game or your work meeting. It just is. You don’t think about it. You don’t hope you’ll be in the mood. It’s on paper and you go.
“You need to start light and train for volume before intensity.” Workouts should be easy to start with, according to Clear. The point is to build yourself up, not wear yourself down. One must build a capacity for working out before testing limits. In a simple way, you want to add reps to your workout before you add weight. This isn’t trying to knock out 20 reps. It’s still suggested that most exercises be 8-12 reps, but add two reps each week until you max out reps, then add weight and start back at 8 reps.
“You need to record your workouts.” This goes beyond tracking the calories you burned working out in MyNetDiary. Record what exercise you did, at what weight, and how many reps. Record how you felt before and after your workout. Use these notes to look back over your long-term progress, to double-check that you’ve kept to your schedule, and that you are building a “foundation of strength.”
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