At the beginning of my fitness journey, before I had any formal education on health and fitness, I had a photo (cut out of a magazine) of young Gisele Bundchen hanging by my desk. While doing homework I would glance over to Gisele’s picture and study her long, thin legs, her bony, protruding shoulders and angular features on her face. I would promise myself that I would go for a run and hit the gym everyday, that I would look like her by summer and vow to eat healthy, cut sugar and that the only snacks I would consume would be carrots and celery sticks.
I’ve always had a dedicated spirit and would push hard at the gym, watched what I ate, but no matter what, my body never ended up looking like Gisele’s. Instead my legs would add muscle, get shapelier and though my stomach would get flatter and flatter, my hips would not budge an inch. What was I doing wrong?
Actually I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but what I should have been doing is setting realistic goals to my body type and lifestyle. I’m only 5 foot 5 and I’ve always had thick legs and wide hips, so the photo of 5 foot 11 Gisele Bundchen was not an attainable goal for me. If I had chosen to tack up a photo of lovely Jennifer Lopez and aimed for her body shape, then it would have been a more realistic goal and I would have been able to stay motivated for longer periods of time.
Being fit and healthy comes in all shapes and sizes.
You really need to know your body type when setting goals. When you don’t set goals according to the parameters of your body shape, you run the risk of losing motivation and becoming discouraged. Being consistent is a key factor in achieving goals, but having realistic and measurable goals that are attainable in a specific time frame are even more important.
When starting to work out and eat healthy, it is easy to obsess about every aspect of your body in the mirror. It’s easy to miss the occurrence of gradual changes so setting goals that are measurable will allow you to really see changes on paper. Seeing real changes will go a long way to helping commit to a program and so some examples of measurable goals are: “I want to drop 10lbs in 4 weeks” or “I would like to increase lean muscle mass by 10lbs in the next 30 days” or “I want to increase my max bench weight by 25lbs in the next 20 days.”
Setting goals this way allows for assessment at the end of the time frame and tweak what doesn’t work. We also see the progress, which can be very motivating to keep pushing us towards those goals. I highly recommend sticking with a program for at least 30 days as I personally like to think that my body is always two weeks behind. What I look like today is a reflection of how I’ve eaten and trained for the past two weeks. Giving yourself a full month at a fitness and eating program will let you better see what your program is doing for you. At the end, you can make adjustments and set a new goal.
Gaining muscle and losing fat the healthy and natural way can often take much longer than we would like, but it’s important to set goals that are realistic and measurable so that we can stay motivated and consistent.
To keeping it positively real & strong,