Reaching Your Fitness Goals

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How many times have you attempted to set a goal for yourself, whether personal or fitness? How many times have you succeeded? When it comes to improving our own health, we all set objectives and strive to do our best. Goals are different for everyone, so a series of steps should be taken to reach your target and aim for the bullseye of success.

Every goal should start with the same first step, perform a Personal Physical Health Status Analysis. Whether your aspiration is to participate in a race or to lose 30 pounds of excess fat, the key to your victory is to look at your own overall health and wellness. By documenting any obstacles and understanding your starting point, you will be able to move forward and eventually reach your end objective. These variables should be included in your personal review.

• Medical History (alterable or unalterable risk factors)
• Personal and Family Demands
• Intensity of Occupation (active or sedentary)
• Physical Fitness Level
• Energy Level
• Availability of Support System
• Diversions
• Previous Weight Management Issues

Determining and understanding your Body Composition numbers will also help attain goals. This measurement compares the percentage of stored fat in your body to the percentage of lean or working tissue. A body composition analysis is commonly completed by using an electric impedance tool. The comparison made in this measurement is one of the best ways to identify any risk factors that come with being overweight or carrying too much excess fat. Once you have established your fat to lean ratio, subtract the percentage of fat from 100. The number remaining is the amount of lean tissue. To decrease your percentage of fat, your lean tissue percentage must increase.

A second method used to assess the percentage of fat to lean tissue is the “waist to hip” calculation. This can be done in any setting by measuring the waist (inches) and then dividing this number by your hip measurement (inches). Experts state that a healthy ratio should be less than 80%.

Unfortunately using scale weight to assess body fat composition that is not accurate. Reducing one’s amount of weight does not signify an improvement in one’s personal health status. Decreasing your numbers on a scale merely indicates that you have lost pounds – which could mean a loss of fat and/or a loss of muscle. Losing muscle lowers your personal health status.

Lastly, Body Mass Index (BMI) is a standardized system in which an individual’s height it used to determine an ideal body weight, but unfortunately it is no longer seen as the number one way to assess health status in adults. It does not take any other wellness variables into consideration.

After one has completed a personal health assessment and reviewed their body composition, the next step is to make positive Lifestyle Changes which should include the following items.

· Increase Physical Activity (include a strength training program tailored to your needs)
• Increase in Weekly Cardiovascular Activity
• Improve Nutrition (ADA guidelines)
• Track and Improve BMI, waist to hip ratio, and body composition assessments
• Practice Daily Relaxation and Deep Stretching
• Be Consistent with all Lifestyle Patterns

An important key is to increase your metabolic rate, the speed at which your body changes food into energy. This can be accomplished by increasing lean mass. A lack of lean muscle can lead to a slower metabolism and will increase the time needed to reach your set goal. Strength training can lead to a considerable amount of fat loss without spending time on the treadmill. This method of training provides the foundation to perform daily tasks for people of all ages. The amount of strength an individual possesses at their base level determines their ability to perform athletic movements (more strength=higher ability). The overall result from this training is to burn more calories while in a resting state. The amount of strength also determines work capacity and energy expenditure.

When using strength training to lose fat, one should perform a minimum of two to three workouts per week, depending on your age. These sessions will utilize large amounts of muscle recruitment leading to a need for recovery which stimulates the continuous burning of calories. It is recommended to start slowly and progress only when muscle fatigue is no longer felt at a given weight load or duration. Getting started is easier than one may think.

Starting with a push machine and moving to a pull machine creates a simple “round” of exercises and is the perfect way to get started. First, select a weight load that stimulates fatigue in the muscles after 8-12 repetitions. Also, it is important to breathe in a rhythmic pattern and keep your spine in its natural alignment.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training exercises be performed 3-5 times a week and only 2-3 times per week for older adults. There are definite benefits to adding strength training to you weekly schedule.

• An increase in metabolic rate and caloric expenditure
• An increase in ability to perform daily activities
• Faster fat loss
• Lowering blood pressure and blood lipids
• An enhanced physique, body shape, and more muscle definition
• Higher self-esteem
• An increase in exercise adherence

Although strength training may be the number one way to increase metabolism, one can also make other positive changes including eating small frequent meals, allowing time for rest, and increasing fiber and water intake.

If your need is to lose fat, the next recommendation is to determine your anticipated Weight Loss Goal. It is important to understand how much weight is a healthy amount to lose each month. Experts agree that 1-1.5 pounds of fat loss per week is a safe weight loss goal (or an average of 4-6 pounds a month).

Working out 2x per week w/out a trainer Working out 3x per week w/out a trainer Working out 2x per week alone + 2x per week w/a trainer

The final step in achieving your goal is to find a Mode of Exercise you will stick with. Coaches agree that working in a group (traditional group fitness class or small group format) will insure faster and more measurable results. It will also provide a positive sense of competition and a more natural progression. With that said, today’s health crisis may challenge the public group environment. At home exercise can also be beneficial due to the boom of live stream workouts. Online streaming services help to provide encouragement, competition and comradery, even if you are exercising by yourself. There are different benefits to both in home and gym exercise, but the main key to find a form of exercise or type of class that you will stick with that is affordable, convenient, exciting and well balanced.

Creating a goal and timeline to reach accomplishment is the hardest part. Best to progress one step at a time. Understanding what your body can do with a health assessment and continuing through a body-fat analysis, one can gain a better comprehension of personal fitness levels. Add in the lifestyle changes and a strength training program for consistent quality of life improvement. Finally, select a fitness program that you are comfortable with. Does it fit into your budget and daily habits? Is it convenient and exciting? The ultimate goal is to create a well-balanced and healthy life.