As a personal trainer, 95% of the time I meet with a prospective client this is the answer that I hear when I ask the question, “What are your fitness goals?” At times I honestly begin to feel like Charlie Brown while he’s listening to his teacher.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am plenty happy to work with people on losing weight and helping them look better naked (deep down inside, all of us partly want that. Come on…. be honest,) but the undeniable fact that most people have a hard time grasping is that these aesthetic goals they’ve mentioned to me are really just the results of your performance improving. I generally find myself having to convince new trainees of that fact, but once they buy in to this idea, the results are astounding.
What about another common measuring stick that you hear people talk about, “The Mirror Test”?
Yes, it is way more important that you look better, if those are the results you’re after, than what the number on the scale tells you, but allow me to explain why that visual test still leaves you feeling like you’re not where you want to be even after a few weeks of hard work.
How often do you catch a glimpse of your own reflection each day?? 20 times/day??? 30??? If you’re a narcissist like me, probably even more, haha.
Those physical changes in your body do not come immediately, (as I’m sure we can all agree) and since you are seeing how your body looks upwards of 30x/day, it leaves you with a visual image of how you perceive yourself physically which is then stored in your brain (kinda like a snapchat photo that doesn’t get deleted).
The fact that those physical changes happen so slowly makes it almost impossible for you to notice the differences because the last image you have of yourself was probably taken less than 30min ago. This is why others are usually the first to notice these changes in your body before you do.
This often leaves people feeling a little hopeless after hours upon hours at the gym per week. What happens next??
Well, usually you end up doing one of two things:
You throw your hands up in the air and give up.
You decide to ramp up the frequency you go to the gym in search of seeing those abs, as if somehow that last 30 min of cardio will take you from buddah belly to washboard abs instantly.
Truth is that both eventually lead down the same path….. giving up on your “goals”, feeling burnt out and generating/looking for some excuse why you can’t do it (I’m looking at you “Big Boned” people).
This only leads you to feeling disempowered, and that is the exact opposite way you should feel after a workout.
Why not trying something new?
When you focus on performance based goals that are attainable (whether it be weight lifted, # of rep or sets, distance you ran etc.,) you leave yourself the opportunity to achieve a new PR (personal record) every workout.
These little victories are successes, and success breeds confidence. When you are feeling confident, you feel better, and when you feel better, you look better. Furthermore, most of us are more likely to stick with something when we feel confident in our ability to do whatever that task is, and when it comes to fitness, consistency is key.
When you do start setting these performance based goals (ex. I want to be able to do a pull-up, bench 225lbs, run a 5k etc.), don’t just set them for long term.
Set individual workout goals as well that will lead towards those longer term goals. For example, when I meet with a client, I go into the session with a game plan and goal that day for them as well,. Ex. Today I’m gonna get Katie to squat 5 lbs more than she did in her last squat workout. When I let Katie know what she’s done, she now has one more thing she knows she CAN do in the gym, and she’s feeling like a boss!
Truth be told, I don’t know any people out there who continually hit their performance based goals, eat clean throughout the week (this is a topic for a whole other post), and generally don’t act like an idiot through the other 23hrs of the day, who don’t eventually get those coveted aesthetic results they wanted in the first place. I do however, know a lot of people who have their heads set on losing that 10-15lbs who have crashed and burned over and over again.
I don’t want you to be one of those people.
I want you to be the success story who exudes confidence!