Proper Planning: The Most Important Part of an Exercise Program

September 16, 2011 By: afeldman 7 Comments

When any big changes are instituted in business, academics or medical procedures, the first thing that happens is the creation of a plan.  Planning is the most important part of any process because without it, everything is on a whim.  The same goes for anything fitness related.  Sure, there are many who go to the gym and do any routine that comes to mind, but if you want to make serious and significant progress toward a goal, planning is necessary.

In fitness, we start our planning process off with goal setting.  Once a realistic goal is decided upon, planning is the next step.  One of the most important things to keep in mind is to keep things realistic.  You cannot set weight loss goals with expectations such as losing 100 pounds in a month or developing “6 pack abs” in two weeks.  As long as you are realistic when making a plan and setting your goal, then there is no reason not to reach it

Weight Loss Goal Setting

When setting weight loss goals for yourself, it is important to be realistic and focus on both the short-term and long-term goals.

When setting a goal, there should be a grand picture of where you want to go and a smaller sub-goal that you can modify or change from week to week.  The main goal should focus on where you see yourself or how you want to feel in the grand scheme of things.  An example of a long term goal is going from a point of being afraid of the water to being able to swim in a triathlon.  All short term goals would then gradually work a person up to learning how to swim correctly.

The idea of a short term goal or a sub-goal is to push you closer to that larger goal.  The large goal can be anything that you want it to be while the smaller goals are easily manageable and integrated into your daily life.  Small goals are changes that are just engaging enough not to throw your entire week out of whack, but still push you towards something.

The mistake that people commonly make is to get overzealous when goal setting.  An unrealistic goal, like one of the ones I mentioned above, is commonly set and when it is not reached, it has disastrous effects on self-confidence.  Below, I will list a couple examples of goals, as well as the right and wrong ways to reach them.

Example Goal 1: I want to lose 100 pounds, which will put me at a healthy body weight.

The Wrong Way: When planning out this goal, most people make the mistake of adding in a timeline.  When a timeline is added, there is added pressure to reach the goal.  One of two things will happen with the timeline: either you will give up after not seeing the progress you hoped for, or you will feel so rushed to lose weight that you will engage in unhealthy practices to meet a deadline.  The latter will usually result in your regaining any lost weight, plus some extra.

The Right Way: The longer a person has been 100 pounds overweight, the longer it will take to lose it in a healthy manner.  Keeping with the big goal/little goal technique from above, the 100 pound weight loss is the grand goal.  As for small weekly goals, start off smaller and once you get a feel for the water, you can start adding things in.  For example, the week one goal could be making it into the gym three times.  Week two could be limiting bad meals to only one per day.  Week three could be eliminating soda every other day and week four could be making it to the gym five times.  The goals will be different for everyone but it is most important to set goals that you are able to achieve.  As you can tell, each small goal will move this participant closer to the 100 pound weight loss.  They may not necessarily be losing weight every week at first but if they keep setting and reaching weekly goals, this person will get to a point where they are shredding through fat like wild fire, as well as achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Example Goal 2: I want to run a Marathon.

Goal Setting - Marathon Training

When training for a marathon, or a similar fitness goal, it is important to gradually train to avoid injury to your body.

The Wrong Way: When setting a performance goal such as this one, most people jump in and try to do everything at one time. At the program’s start, this usually includes running every single day without regards to nutrition. By the time week three or week four roll around, joints start aching pretty badly and the runner becomes restless and very irritable. By the time two months has passed, the body has had enough and the exercise program simply stops.

The Right Way: Since the marathon is our long term goal here, smaller goals contributing to the long term goal should be in place.  More experienced runners can sign up for a marathon that is 6-9 months away while beginners should figure on a year or more.  Some smaller goals can relate to mileage (increasing from five total miles for the week to eight total miles), nutrition (incorporating higher water intake during runs), or exercise in general (stretching for 60 total minutes for the week).  The main thing to remember with running goals is not to increase distance too fast.  When mileage goes up too quickly, that is when injuries happen.

The Final Note

After reading this article, think about some of the goals you have reached or failed to reach.  Did you set a long term goal along with smaller goals to get you there?  Did these goals change?  Did you give up on your goals?  Use this opportunity to reevaluate some of the goals you are trying to reach and incorporate proper planning to get there.  Remember, your long term goal has no expiration date until you assign it one.  Keep your eyes on that long term goal and manipulate short term goals to get you there.  At Shane Diet Resorts fitness retreat program for adults, we teach clients how to incorporate fitness, nutrition and long term weight management into their daily living by using proper planning and goal setting.

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