By far, the most common theme I see among my clients is the expectations about their lives after reaching their personal training goals.  The goal becomes the only thing that matters in their health and fitness.  Everything will be better when they hit that goal.  Lose 20 pounds, drop body-fat, get my 6-pack, etc.  The trap that everyone seems to fall into is that when we arrive at that goal, we will have done just that; arrived.  But then what?

Personal training goals: Arriving at your destination

Story time:

This expression about “arriving” was introduced to me a few years ago after a particularly uninspired performance from our college soccer team.  We had played one amazing game and beaten a top team, then we turned around and had one of the worst performances of our lives.  We thought we had arrived.  Like we were the stars of the show and that from then on, everything would be easy and we were the best.  Wrong.

The lesson I learned is that if you’re striving to get somewhere or become something, you find out when you get there that it’s not everything you thought it would be.  You’re left a little empty, because you expected everything to be different overnight.

  • All of a sudden you can say you lost your 20 pounds, but somehow you don’t feel that much different than you did yesterday or a week before.  Now I can stop trying so hard in the gym right?
  • You might have hit that PR, and you feel you’re the strongest you’ll ever be, so why keep training?
  • You reached your goal and ran a 5k/10k/half-marathon/marathon and now you’re done with running forever.

Not only do you see the forecast of regression from your progress here, but you also missed the best part about your personal training goal:

Getting there.

When you are so focused on the goal, you can miss all of the little progress and achievements, physically and mentally, you make along the way.

Physically

Maybe you didn’t exercise at all before, and now you consistently do 3 times a week.  Or maybe you couldn’t do a push up when you started, but now you can do 10.  Maybe you didn’t notice that every day you wake up with more energy and it lasts throughout the day, or you can walk up stairs without getting winded and red-faced.

Mentally

On another level, and a more important one in my opinion, maybe you improved your self-confidence.  Or believe you can do things you never thought you’d do again.  Maybe you developed a mental toughness that helps you with your job, your relationships, your family, or your passions.

What’s the point?

The point I’m trying to make is NOT that I don’t want you to set goals.  I’m a firm believer in goals and I find that goals are a big part of the adherence to a long-term plan, especially when they evolve.

The point I AM trying to make is that life is bigger than this.  You definitely should strive to be healthy and start there with your goals, but you should also be mindful and present in your exercise, whatever it may be.  Ask yourself some questions about it as you go.

Am I?:

  • Enjoying the process?  Do you like the type of training you’re doing?  Read more here.
  • Making progress in other ways than just towards my goal?
  • Learning how to move better?
  • Learning how to care for my body with movement and with nutrition?
  • Getting tougher mentally?
  • Seeing improvements in my daily life, function, and health?

You’ll be amazed at how much a perspective shift off of obsessing about your goal, and onto the positive effects your exercise and nutrition will have on your life.

You’ll also find it easier to reach your personal training goals when your focus is elsewhere/on the whole picture.  A watched pot never boiled, right?

Summary:

See, while some of you may think a coach/personal trainers job is solely to get people to reach their personal training goals, my job and my passion is really to get people to see that their health is far greater than just about a goal, but rather a lifestyle, in whichever way they personally choose to express that.

Your health is dependent upon you continuing to care for your body with your exercise and nutrition, so you must own it by being present and mindful while you learn how to.

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