How to Take Your Fitness Goals to the Next Level

Okay so I want to climb more. But what does that mean?

While I was climbing this week, I realized that I needed to make my goal of climbing more even more specific in order to make that goal attainable. I realized, once I specified my goal, that I needed a little planning in order to make it happen.

Chapter One

Here is how to meet your 2018 fitness goals:

  1. Get specific!
    “I want to get more into running,” leaves a lot of room to… not actually get into running. Try making your goal measurable, like “I want to run 3 times a week,” or “I want to run a marathon in August,” instead. My climbing goal: I want to learn to lead climb (and then do it outside with my sister!)
  2. Break it down.
    I can’t learn to lead climb until I am can climb harder levels. In order to learn to lead, I need to climb 5.10s without needing to rest every 2 seconds. If you want to run a marathon, maybe you need smaller time goals. “By March I will run a 5k,” or “I will run 3 hours a week.”
  3. Set Goals
    Setting small goals along the way allows you to feed off of the positive energy that comes from reaching a new milestone. This is also a crucial step in maintaining and continuing your practice. If you want to continue your exercise longterm, set yourself small forward-reaching goals every few months. My current climbing goals include completing a set of full pull-ups (I met my goal of doing one whole pull-up!!!) and climbing my first V3.
  4. Get Creative
    It is easy to stagnate in any practice. In order to develop alternative muscles and keep it interesting, alternate your training. If you are doing something that is primarily cardio, add strength training. If you are doing something strength based, through in running days, or a dance cardio class to keep it interesting!
  5. Gear Up
    Sometimes you can’t take it to the next level until you get proper equipment. These leggings and this pair of shoes changed the game and took my training to the next level by increasing my flexibility and stability. Not having to adjust my clothing all the time allows me to focus on my workout without interruption or excuse.
  6. Commit time
    I feel like one of the most important steps for me to accomplish my fitness goals is for me to block out every day of the week that I need to exercise, and what I need to do on those days. It is equally important to find a rhythm that works for you. If you need consistency above all in order to meet your goal, then go all out and don’t make compromises. If you are worried about burnout, plan for 3 days a week with a fun alternative workout thrown in there. Commit that time and don’t cancel plans with yourself.
  7. Plan out every second!
    Once you have committed to the days you will workout, plan out every tiny detail of those sessions. Have an overarching plan, and a step-by-step or goal-based process for the actual sessions. Recently, I had a session planned that started with a strength based warm-up and was followed by a strict endurance builder. If something didn’t work right one day, sit down and adjust your plan for next time. Thoughtful planning and reflection will keep you committed to your goals, and help keep your goals attainable.
  8. Leave room for fun
    Enjoy your workouts! Invite friends on your run or to your class, add party music one day, and have some fun day instead of zero days- go to the gym anyway, but try new things. All of these little celebrations will prevent burnout.
  9. Be accountable
    SET THE DATE. Your running a marathon? Finally doing 10 pull-ups! You are going to try competitive figure skating??! Invite your friends! “Hello everybody. On August 22nd, I will complete 10 pull-ups at the gym. You are all invited to view the pull-ups and celebrate with drinks after!” Make it into a silly/fun/cool event. A group of women I climb with recently got together to make posters and cheer on a friend running the marathon. What a cool way to support each other and spend time together.
  10. Keep setting goals
    After you meet your BIG goal, it is hard to keep going. As you approach your big goal, plan your next moves. The week before the marathon, maybe you know you need a full 2 weeks of rest. Fine, plan that, but plan your first day back. What will you do to get back into it and continue to enjoy it? Be ready to keep the momentum! And plan your NEXT goal. If the marathon felt like a lot, scale it back and do a fun run somewhere. If you’re hooked, try to best your time and qualify for a different city. Maybe you like the variety of a triathlon! Keep pushing yourself to get out and get moving.
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Strategies for Resilience

I have said before that I think we should make resolutions throughout the year. As I am readjusting to a work schedule, I am quickly reminded of how difficult it is to stay happy and healthy while working full time. Here are some of my strategies for staying active and alert this year, but also in just the coming weeks.

 

Sign up for fitness opportunities that are outside of your comfort zone!
Rock climbing, rowing, paddle boarding, kayaking, biking… whatever! Whatever is new and different and scares you just a little bit. Trust me. It is so good for you to be out of your comfort zone.

Do something alone.
Take a trip. Go downtown just because. Take yourself to dinner and a movie.

What do you love the most? Do that a lot.
For me, that is camping. I vow to camp at least once a month until it is way too cold.

Reconnect with your passions.
I became a music teacher because I love music, but I only play when I have an event coming up. Solutions: schedule an event, join a group, go to jam sessions, etc..

Have a job just for fun.
My boyfriend and I are hanging up posters for giving music lessons, because we get to work one on one with students and make a little extra money in the evenings. In addition to having a pleasant working experience, we are also building a small financial cushion to help during those unpaid summer months or career transitions.

Make new friends. (And keep the old!)
I made exactly one friend in my first year living in Chicago! I also made friendly coworkers, but that’s different. It is amazing how happy and relaxing it is to spend time with another person, and to get out of the house to do something with them. This year I want to continue making friends, and will work harder to visit my friends in Chicago and beyond.

Don’t disconnect.
There are a lot of ways to distance yourself from difficult work. Last year, I became closed off at times. I would avoid calling my family because I didn’t want to share the details of my day or week, and would be quiet and angry when I would get home. I would just sit on the couch fuming for hours! I realize now that I need to take some time to myself, like a 30 minute walk, or listening to upbeat music on the drive home, and then I need to reach out to the people who love me and share my day and listen to theirs! Connect with the people you love.

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Summer Resolution

Why do we save resolutions for the new year? I am always reinventing myself, and summer is no exception. Reflecting on the spring, I hiked The Grand Canyon, became a climbing badass, and started this blog! I feel rich in experience and prosperous in opportunity.

Looking ahead, I am less financially prepared for the summer than I planned to be. Please see this post to learn how I wanted to save and what mistakes I planned to avoid… mainly I was hoping to have enough saved to not rely on my credit card. Oops. (Side note: teachers don’t get paid enough).

I have seen some Summer Bucket Lists, and maybe I will write one of those in a minute, but this is a little more than that. Like a new year’s resolution, this is a goal for me to dedicate myself to throughout the summer. Additionally, I would like to start working on these goals now, and not wait until I am truly on summer break.

Summer Resolutions, 2017

•Run every day because I feel good when I do

Climb at least once or twice a week!

Play my instrument

•Camp and hike a lot

Write and call my grandparents

•Spend more than two weeks with my family

Develop this blog

Any summer resolutions yourself? These are small goals, and at various points in my life I have maintained some/all of them. These are actions that bring me satisfaction, and I look forward to a healthy, prosperous, and loving summer.