Setting Workout Goals

For this past New Year's, I did not make a new years resolution, but rather I made some New Year's goals.  Resolutions sound like you are trying to resolve something.  I found this definition online:
A course of action determined or decided on
Now, this sounds like what you are doing with a NY resolution, but I think that they idea is not to actually solve something, but rather make a positive change that you continue with throughout the years.  Resolving to me sounds like you fix it and move on and I think goals are an ongoing process that can be worked on, met and then revised to fit your current needs. 

So, for my goal this year, I decided to focus on physical activity.  

Here is how I got to this point:I have worked at gyms in the past and it was easy to fit a workout in because I was always there.  Then, I would go to the gym near my apartment after work.  This was working well, but then I went back to school.  So, between school and work, I was busy.  But I was not just your average busy, I was intentionally loading my schedule full,  I was actually working 2 jobs, all 7 days of the week and some days I worked 2 jobs, plus I was going to school.  Soon, the gym too a back seat.  With my gym membership only $20 a month, I thankfully did not cancel the gym membership.

Once school finished, I was still working 2 jobs, but waitressing was replaced with teaching at UNLV, and this was less hours a week, so it was getting better.  

Then I found a coworker to go to the gym with me.  Luckily we had a location of our gym right across from the hospital.  How silly is that?  I was barely able to fit in a work out, but the gym was on my way home.  No more excuses, it was time to put it in high gear.  Ok, gym was a must and my wedding was fast approaching.  I am sorry to say, that I although I fit workouts in here and there and improved on my never going to the gym, I was not able to go as many times a week as I wanted.  See, I spent so much of my day counseling on weight management and diabetes and teaching people how to eat properly, that at the end of the day, I just wanted to go home, eat dinner, take a shower, hangout with Ryan, do a little work, and go to bed.  Now, where was the gym time in there.  It was obviously no where to be found.

How could I have let this happen?  I loved working out.  I loved exercise.  Oh well, that is all in the past now.  But this brings me to January 1, 2010.  I actually start my goals right after the new year because there is so much pressure those first few days.  So, I always start with the first weekend or Monday of the new year.  It's just my personal preference.

This year my goal was: physical activity (or working out) at least 4 days a week.

Now, how did I choose this?  I thought about my minimum and not setting my goals too high.  You can always go above and beyond your set goal or target, but it is easy to feel like you did not succeed if you do too little.  So, never set your goals to high, but do make them a challenge.  As I was not working out regularly, 4 days a week was a challenge, but it was just more than half of the week so it was not to lofty.  I also told myself may physical activity counts because hiking and biking, while not in the physical gym location, are actually good means for exercise.  I also left this open to include working out to exercise videos in my house.

You may also notice that I did not set a daily time goal.  I did this on purpose because I wanted to keep this flexible.  If one day all I have was 20 minutes, I didn't want to feel like this was not good enough.  If I have an hour to go workout, then that is great too.  I just wanted to make sure I physically put myself in the situation of doing some form of exercise at least 4 times a week.  This was going to be a stretch because I had not been doing this regularly for about 1.5 years.

So, I bet you are wondering how I am doing with this goal.  I am happy to report that since the start of January, I have been going to the gym (sometimes using the track or jogging outside) at least 4 times a week, even when on vacation.  Actually, most weeks I go 5 days a week.  It seems that when I am on vacation is when it gets down to 4 days a week.  If I only get 4 days in, I do not beat myself up about it because that was my original goal.  When I exceed my goal, and go 5 days a week, I feel really good about making the time to get in the gym.  Ah, I almost forgot to mention that I do cardio for 50 minutes most days that I am working out.  Occasionally if I am pressed for time, I do 40-45 minutes.

Since I was successful in sticking to this plan, I decided to revise my plan to include a goal for weight training because my initial thought was just do cardio in an effort to get back into the swing of things.  I did really well with that, so when I returned to the island from Baltimore, I decided to add a goal of weight training at least 2 days of the week, in conjunction with the 4 days I would be working out.

Now, how am I doing with that goal?  Since mid-April I have been able to do 4-5 days a week at the gym with 40-50 minutes of cardio and on 2-3 of those days I do strength/weight training.

I can definitely see a difference in my energy level and body composition, although I still have a ways to go to get back to where I was a few years ago.  My main focus is just getting in the habit of exercising and staying healthy.  It is so easy to have a good habit and then let it go right out the window.  It can be tough to get back into these good habits, but sometimes you just have to give it a shot.  Always set goals and know what your time line is.  Never make an open ended plan because it is easy to push things off until later.  Short term goals are a great way to do this.

My next step is to change things up after 6 months into this goal.  This means around July I will be looking to add something in to my bland routine of the treadclimber for 50 minutes and the same weight machines I am currently doing.  I am asking everyone for suggestions on how to change up my workout or what you think I should add/change to my current plan.

I am really looking forward to the warm weather and no rain so that I can go outside and ride my bike.  I have only ridden it twice since I bought it last fall.  Right after my bike was shipped here, the rainy season started and I was so sad!

It is nice that I am now in the gym most days of the week, doing about 200-250 minutes cardio each week, because I have no intention of giving up a dinner out once or twice a week.

Like this last minute decision last night to go to La Barca for some Italian food.
It was just one of those nights.
Ryan got the tortellini, as usual, because it is just that good.

I also got the same dish I always order, the primavera with tagliatelle.  There is so little oil here and tons of great veggies, so I can't help but always get this dish.  Last night the server suggested adding shrimp, and like I said, it was one of those days, so I thought, what the heck, toss in some shrimp.

Oh yes, dessert time.  Now, I think we really went because they have a great chocolate cake, but when it was time to order dessert, they were out of the cake.  Oh well, no worries.  I went with this ice cream filled crepe instead.
Ryan went with the tiramisu.
The was a nice end to a super long day.  If anyone is wondering, no, I did not eat all of my entree or all of my dessert.  Both were delicious, and believe me, I would have finished them if I could have, but there was just no way.

QUESTIONS:  Have you stuck with any of your New Year's resolution/goals?  What do you do for physical activity?


Beth said...

I don't really do new years resolutions. They don't work for me. As for physical activity, I LOVE my gym. I try to go five days a week, but depending on scheduling and work, sometimes I only make it four. I used to do lots of cardio--45-50 minutes as hard as I could. Recently though, I've been scaling back the cardio some and doing a lot more strength training, and I can really see the difference!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this post Melinda! I was just going over my goals for May and I think I like your idea of not being too specific on your goals - when I went back to my WW journals from 1999 when I lost 70 pounds, I realized I worked out a total of 90 minutes throughout the day and I didn't drink any wine!

So that being said, I think my goal for May will be - "work out more, drink less wine!"

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

Good job on your goals! I like that your exercise goal was doable. I think too often we set unrealistic goals. When I got serious about exercise again at the beginning of last year, my goal was to work out at least four times per week, and I usually worked out more. Yet, when things got really hectic I could still make my goal.

I work out at the gym a lot, but I also try to get outside more. I've started running again (although I'm not sure if I can stick with it as my ankle is not "behaving" very well), and I go hiking a few times per month (my favorite form of exercise). I'm also looking forward to incorporating swimming into my workouts as it's getting warmer.

Emily said...

Congrats on sticking to your goals! I think it's amazing that you're able to maintain a busy schedule and get to the gym 4-5 times a week. I definitely think having a friend helps. And finding a variety of exercises. I'm hoping to get back into dance or something like that...I need a little break from running 5 days a week.

Special K said...

Honestly, YOU are following the internal cue inside for something refreshing and I love how your goals mimic your values.So no! I am NOT going to make MY suggestions for you. You appear well resourced yourself regarding how to keep your energy afloat.
You are stronger than you know! Trust YOURSELF!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing and good for you for sticking with your goals. I continue to struggle with motivation for the gym. I am definitely doing better but these last couple weeks haven't been as good as I have liked. I have to check in my stats for my blog challenge and am a bit nervous!!

sophia said...

I called my NY resolutions "prayer topics"....and there were A LOT and it was rather detailed. I've achieved a fair amount of it, but some still needs a bit of work...

I hate going to the gym, so I don't think I'll ever procure a membership. What's more, the contract seems binding. But then, I live in sunny LA, so all I need to do is lace up my shoes and go out for a run.

Simply Life said...

wow! great Italian meal! Looks perfect!

Jessie said...

I never really thought about the difference between the word "resolution" and "goal", but the distinction you point out makes total sense. I don't set goals around the new year because I tend to set them throughout the year instead (although it tends to get haphazard after a while, so maybe I should stick with NY). I think your points about being flexible and having goals are so important. I'm glad you're feeling stronger!

Are there any sports groups around there? I find playing sports on a team occasionally helps mix things up.

Sook said...

Isn't working out so fun?! It was really hard at first but now I am more used to going to the gym 3-4 times a week. It definitely helps your metabolism and health. I am a bit stronger than I was two years ago and don't easily get tired anymore, which is great for me! :) Good luck with your goals and workouts!

Unknown said...

we have been running about 3.5 miles 3x a week. i actually supplement that w/ walking on the treadmill and in the summer, matt supplements w/ sailing :)

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