Most people pushing themselves through workouts are hoping that all that grunting and sweating is bringing them closer to a specific goal. Setting a fitness goal is easy. Simply say to yourself, “I’m going to complete next week’s triathlon in record time” and, poof! You have a goal! It’s no wonder a University of Scranton study found that staying fit and losing weight were both in the top five New Years resolutions of 2015. But then things get a bit more complicated.
Yes, goals can be a positive motivating force. But they can also hurt your progress. Focusing on unrealistic goals can distract you from the “in the moment” successes of feeling stronger, faster, or more flexible. If your goal is to get the biceps of a professional basketball player, you’re setting yourself up for frustration and despair when three sets of curls don’t produce a pair of massive arms.
Even if you remain totally committed to your fitness routine, god-like muscles won’t appear right away. Physical changes take time (a lot of time) and commitment to things like muscle confusion, recovery, and proper nutrition. Luckily, proper nutrition is one goal that’s readily attainable. Today’s sports nutrition products — like the premium protein bars, shakes and powders from EAS — are designed to help your body prepare for and recover from grueling workouts. Adequate protein intake can help you improve your physical health and performance, but you’d need magic to see a massive physical change overnight.
So why do people keep setting themselves up for failure? Grandiose goals based on a future, better self feel exciting at first. You get to picture this toned, glistening self running a seven-minute mile (perhaps on a beach). But once you’ve pictured this unrealistic “goal you,” you’ll inevitably be confronted by the gap between where you are and where you want to be. You’re probably pretty wonderful right now, but it can be hard to recognize that when you’re obsessed with how much you have to change to become the vision of yourself in your head. This disparity can be discouraging. It makes it nearly impossible to appreciate your strengths and value the smaller goals you accomplish with each stride and rep. You could fail to appreciate the best workout of your life because it didn’t make your glutes look any perkier.
Now, let’s focus on how you can use goals for good. Start by being present, or (buzzword time) mindful. Resist the urge to think about how you’d want to look or perform if a genie granted you three wishes. Instead, zone in on what you’re doing, where you are, and what you’re feeling right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re in down dog or midway through a set of push ups — connecting with your body and environment makes it easier to recognize that you’re contributing to forward progress.
To make this “forward progress” less nebulous, you might want to give yourself small-scale goals to accomplish in a mindful, present way. For example, if you’re working on endurance, try adding one block to your running route. Focus on how you feel and what’s going on around you as you jog the extra distance. Try adding one block every week. If you want to see more definition in your abs, hold a plank for one minute before and after your workout. Be aware of your breath and the strength of your core muscles.
Setting mindful, realistic fitness goals will provide a consistent stream of positive reinforcement. These achievements may seem small, but they allow you to tune into your body as it gets stronger and faster. Motivation can come from any success, even if you’re just fitting a few vinyasas into your morning. These rewards make working out an empowering part of your day instead of a discouraging chore. And the more you look forward to your workouts, the more likely you are to stick with your fitness routine and make real progress.
Like mindful goals and energizing nutrition, great music can make it much easier — and more enjoyable — to push yourself physically. EAS has you covered with powders, drinks, and bars to help you get the most out of your workouts, and they’ve collaborated with elite athletes to compile some blood-pumping Spotify playlists to get you in the zone. Head here to learn more about how EAS products can help you reach your own fitness goals, and be sure to follow EAS on Spotify by clicking the button below.