It’s crucial to base your fitness goals in the values that mean something to you. Finding your “why” is important when setting up goals but it is as important (if not more importarter – I can say that, it’s my blog) to discover or revisit your values before just putting empty words on a piece of paper.
When you base your goals on what the society, your family, your friends, co-workers or SpongeBob (imagine walking around wearing square pants because he said so) considers to be right but ignore what you really believe in, you will end up pushing water uphill. You will feel like you are failing at everything because you are trying to get somewhere where you really don’t want to get to.
Once you have your values set and base your goals on them it’s easier to find happiness while working toward what you really want, towards your goals. Take a moment to let this one sink in:
Are your goals your’s or someone else’s? Are you failing to reach your goals because you don’t want to get there in the first place?
Let me give you a real life story to hammer this down. I find it notoriously hard to put on muscle. It’s not that I don’t know what training program to follow. No, training is the easy part. I enjoy lifting weights and getting strong. It is a form of “meditation” for me, it helps me to clear my head. I put on my headphones, crank up some Pantera and get into it, it’s me-time. That’s all relatively easy for me.
The hard part is the eating. Again it’s not that I don’t know what I should do. I know that at my current weight I need to eat about 3600 calories per day to see some progress over time. As I am constantly hungry on my training days I can get to 2800-3000 calories quite easily without too much of a drama. However it’s the last 800-ish calories that I struggle with as that is where I usually have to force myself to eat. Again, forcing myself to eat another 800 calories is not too hard physiologically for me (just ask my wife), if all else fails I can make a heavy smoothie and get most of those calories from there. That’s fairly simple and easy obstacle to cross.
I usually do this forced eating successfully for about a week before failing miserably. You probably wonder why I fail then, being a coach shouldn’t I be super motivated? After all it’s my job to help clients to discovered motivation within themselves.
It’s because I find it hard psychologically. Forcing myself to eat excessive amount of food to build muscle goes against my values. Now bear with me for the next few sentences and it’ll make sense. I feel that it is not right to eat all this food when so many other people in the world are barely getting by with their daily food rations. A lot of people are dying because they don’t get enough food. And here I am forcing myself to eat more, and for what? To build additional muscle to weight 88kg instead of my current 83kg??
In the big scheme of things, is that really so important to me in life? Judging by how many times I’ve started and stopped it’s probably not that important to me at all! But I’ve tried it for countless times because I used to believe that to be a man I had to be huge. I was trying to please others and to fit in but it wasn’t what was valuable for me.
Getting huge clashes with my values. If I happen to get huge (honestly, not going to happen) without forceful eating then so be it. But it is not my end goal. I am not saying that I am some sort of righteous person telling everyone that building a lot of muscle is bad. No, it can be great for some and their self-esteem but in my training it’s at the bottom of the list of valuable things to achieve. I rather focus on movement and pressing heavy things.
I know how that sounds like and I can hear critics telling me to harden up, that I am not willing to put in the work (or “fork”) and that my consumption of food has nothing to do with how much a child will get food in Africa. I know that, but it still doesn’t help the way I feel about it.
It’s the same reason why I’ve cut down my meat consumption. Environment issues are important to me and I feel that I am doing more harm by eating excessive amounts of meat. I am nowhere near yet where I want to be with my meat eating habits but I am doing my best trying to constantly find alternatives. I know I will never be a vegetarian because I still enjoy a nice steak but I am trying to move from eating meat all the time to less often. Easier said than done though. But I’ve got my values guiding me so it does not feel like such an effort. It’s what I believe in.
All I am saying is that let your values guide your goal setting. It’s easier to stick to your goals when they go hand in hand with who you are and what you believe in.
Think of the words to describe you when you are at the end of your health and fitness journey. Do they align with your values? If they don’t, get this straightened up before touching a barbell. Otherwise you are going to have a miserable battle ahead of you.