reality check.

i had an epiphany the other day when i was flipping through my latest issue of men’s health.  amidst the somewhat racy articles that will do me no good by learning how to…(well i digress as my blog is rated pg) i find this mag to have some hardcore workouts, fab recipes, and outstanding articles  - that and i’m a huge fan of the editor mr. zinczenkco. (hello david, if you happen to be perusing my oh-so popular blog).

so i’m reading this article on the various fitness tests to determine if you’re “men’s health fit“.  of course, one test in particular caught my eye given my current 12-week goals: push-ups to test upper body strength.  

here was the “scorecard”:

below average: fewer than 15 push-ups
average: 16 -29 push-ups
above average: 30 – 44 push-ups
“men’s health fit”: 45+ push-ups

my goal, if you recall was to be able to do 50 push-ups (again) like i could when i was training for the competition.  that would put me in the “men’s health fit” category. when i started my new 12-week program i could do 32  (already “above average”, according to a men’s fitness magazine nonetheless) and i’ve been training for nearly 5 weeks and i’m up to 38.  my goal of 50 is so close i can almost taste it.  but here’s also what i realized: 32 is pretty damn good (hence, the pg rating and not g).  sometimes we hold ourselves to such unrealistic standards that we inevitably set ourselves up for failure.

so while on the stepmill, where somehow between there, running, and spin class i seem to stumble upon all my epiphanies, i had this thought:

“the problem is not in setting unachievable goals, but expecting results unrealistically.”  ~me

ok so it makes sense to me, but in case you don’t fine me to be quite as eloquent as i think i am (*chuckle*), i shall explain my thought.  (almost) any goal is achievable within reason, but for the sake of my blog and area of expertise let’s stick to fitness:

subject #1
gender: female
height: 5’4″
weight: 140lbs
dress size:  14

this subject, which is the size of the average american women by the way, has a goal of losing 35lbs and fitting in a size 2 dress. hmm…problem.  at 5’4, tipping the scales at a whopping-feathery 110 and  aiming for a size 2 is setting herself up for utter failure.  setting these unrealistic goals may seem silly while reading it, but think about what your goals are and how often you do this to yourself.  do you still strive to weigh what you did in high school, now 30 years later?  are you always comparing yourself to your friends who have different genetics, metabolisms, bodies, lifestyles and habits?  learn to redefine what healthy is to you and set goals that motivate, not frustrate you.  i’ve had 2 personal training clients in last week tell me that for the first time in a long time they’ve imagined reaching a goal that for so long hasn’t seemed to be within reach. so the first step: convincing yourself that you’re worth it.

subject #2
gender: male
height: 5’10″
weight: 235
jean size:  35″

this subject wants to lose a few inches around the belly for health reasons and lose some lbs…totally do-able and admirable goals.  can he do this in a month?  not likely.  this is why you should run quickly away from any get-thin-quick gimmicks…it’s not possible and if it is, it’s not good for you.  given that sustainable weight loss usually equates to losing 1-2lbs per week, he’s looking at a minimum of 10 weeks to reach this goal.  and mind you – this is if he has a caloric deficit of 7000 calories (3500 cals/lb) per week.  this means he needs to eat 500 fewer calories per day and burn 500 calories more per day than he is NOW.  so it is possible..but he would be setting himself up for failure to expect those results in anything less than 10 weeks.  (tip: research shows you eat 500-1000 fewer calories per day just by writing down your food, which is why we encourage journaling with fitbook!)

so after thinking i was so brilliant after my epiphany, i came upon this quote in a magazine literally days after my what-i-thought-was my light-bulb moment.  apparently confucius beat me to it:

“when it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”  ~confucius

case in point: let’s get real people!  and that includes me.  i tend to set lofty goals (i’m competitive – especially with myself) which pushes me to reach bigger and better things.  but keeping those goals in perspective is equally important. my bench press goal for the 12 weeks was my body weight (119# at start, now a svelte #116 thank-you-very-much!) and i surprised myself by benching 95# only 3 weeks in.  i’m going to aim still for the 115# because based on my quick progress i had planned on upping it – now, that just seems not necessary.  i have no near-term goals of going head-t0-head with the hulk so benching just my bodyweight shall suffice.  and my push-ups are up to 38 – so 50 is in sight.  3 pull-ups are looking fairly dim but the 10 pike leg-raises (i’m half-way there) are (painfully) progressing.  join me and push yourself – reach your goals and be your best.

but remember – keep it real(istic).

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