It’s almost impossible to pick up a fitness magazine or read a blog post about working out, without being bombarded with the word protein. We need protein to survive but the recommended level of dietary protein is only about 10% of our total calories. About 1-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is generally considered enough to build muscle. So, the reality is that it isn’t as gargantuan a task as it is sometimes made out to be to take in reasonable levels of protein. But what about when I consume protein, it’s gotta be right after my workout, right? Wrong. Studies show that muscles replenish glycogen just fine regardless of when you consume protein, so giving yourself indigestion for the sake of ‘gains’ is not a smart move. This doesn’t mean we should just give up on protein, but obsessing over how much protein you’re eating everyday, and rushing home from the gym to gulp down that shake of yours, is not only boring, but probably isn’t helping your progress all that much.
You’d be hard pressed in this day and age to find someone who hasn’t heard through the grapevine that carbs are bad. This is perhaps one of the biggest nutritional myths of all time. Carbohydrates are one of the macronutrients that the body needs every day for energy.
Unfortunately today, aesthetics regularly comes before function or health in most people’s reasons for hitting the gym. For the average gym goer, how you look in comparison to models and movie stars has taken priority over living a healthy lifestyle. With the sheer saturation of fitness influencers and brands presenting the image of human perfection and impossible standards, it’s no wonder we are made to constantly feel inadequate. It might surprise you then to hear that muscle mass, strength and potential muscle growth are “highly heritable traits”, with 30-80% of muscular potential being genetic (NCBI). The reason your friend may have a more muscular stomach or bigger biceps than you may not be solely because she’s more “dedicated” in the gym (despite what every instagram post or fitness influencer might tell you). It’s possible genetics are at play as well.
Time is not the enemy. Who doesn’t want to get in shape overnight? To show up to work with your newly crafted physique and wow all your colleagues, is something we’ve all fantasised about. Unfortunately, changing how we look and feel takes time. There is no quick fix. It comes as no surprise then, that 50% of all new gym members quit within 6 months (IHRSA). Why? Because working out is hard that’s why, and a lack of progress can demotivate us. Especially when so many workout plans promise unrealistic results in short amounts of time…think ’28 days to your perfect summer body’, it is no wonder people get disheartened.
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Setting goals is such an important part of our lives. It provides us with a clear vision of the future and encourages us to get better every single day. This guide will explore some simple tips on how to get started with setting goals and make sure you follow through and achieve them.
Find out what drives you every day
It is crucial that you set goals that motivate you. If you choose to focus on something which does not give you joy or excitement, you are more likely to give up on the process. Take some time to think about your values and dreams for the future and ensure that the goals you set for yourself align with those.
Don’t be afraid of failure
Remember that making mistakes is completely normal. In fact, the more mistakes you make, the faster you will learn and grow. So, do not be afraid to set goals which challenge you. The journey will not always be smooth and you will most likely run into some obstacles. However, you should not let that stop you from setting goals for yourself. You should simply view these situations as learning experiences.
Follow the SMART framework
When formulating goals, it is best to ensure that they are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound. Firstly, you can start by transforming your general goals to specific statements. For example, instead of saying ‘I will be healthy’, try replacing this with ‘I will have three healthy meals and complete 20 minutes of exercise every day’. This method will also help you measure your goals in the long term. Also, make sure they are attainable and realistic to you. If you are not used to exercising every day, it will not make sense to begin a workout routine with the aim of 1 hour or more of exercising. You will have to decide what will work for you in the beginning and then gradually build your habits from there. Lastly, do not forget to choose a time frame for your goals. Initially, this can be one month, three or six months and eventually you can plan out a full year.
Achieving your goals
Now that you have set your goals using the SMART technique, you may wonder how you are supposed to stick with them and make sure they actually happen. Follow these tips to help you along the way:
Write them down
Be as clear and detailed as possible. You can use a journal or planner to do this. There are many options which you can choose from. One example is Ponderlily which offers eco-friendly journals and planners designed to help you plan out your time effectively. When writing down your goals, a good idea could be to include your reasons for wanting them to happen. By referring back to them, you will be able to stay focused and motivated.
Schedule them in
Be strategic with your time and create a realistic schedule around your goals. Break the big goals down in to smaller actions and habits. For instance, if your goal is to finish a course in German by the end of the month, ensure you schedule the classes and independent study into your diary. An easy and convenient tool you can also use is Google Calendar. Sometimes you may have to move around your plans and adjust as needed. At the end of the day, unexpected changes may happen and this will be outside of your control. Remember to be kind to yourself and continue to do your best when possible.
Review your progress regularly
Lastly, it is important to check in with yourself to make sure you are on track. You may choose to do this weekly or monthly. Do not be afraid to reject old goals which no longer serve you and consider new opportunities. This will allow you to grow and gain new knowledge and skills.
It may take time to build these new habits. However, these tips are here to guide you during this process. You will find that with more trials and experiments, you will see massive improvements in your life.