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Last week we covered why it is important to set goals, and what we should focus on when setting them. Goals give you a vision, motivation, something to focus on, they boost your self-belief and self-confidence and most importantly what you become in the process of achieving your goal is the new you, that will last forever!
To recap, goals should be SMART.
SMART goals allow us to measure our success specifically against our expectations of ourselves, rather than just having some airy fairy idea of what we might fancy doing or achieving.
After we have identified our goal we then need a plan. Preferably a plan that is also written down and SMART just like our goal!
A plan is like a map, it gets us from where we are now to where we want to be, it gives us something to focus on daily, to keep our eyes on the ultimate prize. It stops us floundering in the world of ‘I’m on it!’. If you have a specific plan, you know what you need to do, and when you need to do it.
A plan increases your chances of success. But like a map, you have to follow it to get to your destination, otherwise who knows where you will end up. If you have a good plan, and you stick to it, your chances of success are really high. But you must have a good plan, so that you are putting all your energy into the right things.
How to develop the right plan
When writing your plan, it’s good to work backwards from your goal to where you are now, so that you can plan what steps or actions you need to take between now and your end date.
Really think about what needs to happen for you to achieve your goal and what the correct method might be for success.
If your goal is a weight loss one, make sure your plan is focused on food. If your goal is fitness related, then your focus should be on exercise. Get it the right way round – don’t spend all your time and effort working out, if ultimately your goal is to lose weight, because the focus has to be on the nutrition to get the calorie deficit – you cannot exercise your way to weight loss!
Plans should be simple, straightforward and easy to follow.
Essentially, a plan is a series of mini goals or process goals for you to tick off every day on the way to the success of your short to medium term goals, so treat them as such, and celebrate your successes daily. This will keep you motivated for the longer term.
Plans should have minimal steps to keep them simple, with checks and balances along the way, so that you can measure and track your progress, and adjust the plan if necessary, to keep you on target.
Example plan for weight loss
Weight loss is all about the nutrition. So we need to focus all of our attention on this. Forget about the exercise, this is all about the food.
I want to lose 2 stones by the first week in May, for my birthday weekend.
The goal in detail!!
2 stones is 28 pounds. 28 pounds split over 14 weeks is an average loss of 2lbs a week. So you now know what your weekly weight loss goal is 2lbs a week.
Checks and balances
You could also introduce some intermediate goals or checks and balances, that help you to focus your performance along the way. Every time you hit an intermediate goal celebrate with a little treat as you hit them, if you aren’t hitting them, you need to adjust your goal or up your game.
Example intermediate goals or checks and balances for this particular goal could be:
- w/c 21st February goal – 8lbs gone
- w/c 14th March goal – 1 stone gone
- w/c 11th April goal – 1 stone 8lbs gone
- w/c 2nd May – 2 stones gone! And birthday celebration time feeling fabulous!!!
So now you know the goal(s) in detail, how exactly are you going to do it?
To lose 2lbs a week, we have already said that you need to get your calorie deficit through your nutrition – exercise alone will most definitely not cut it!
So, you need to stick to your calorie allowance like glue, and make sure you get that calorie deficit.
So your plan simply becomes 3 simple steps:
- I will eat to my calorie allowance of 1300 calories every day without fail, by tracking the calories consumed exactly in my meal tracker.
- My breakfast will be no more than 260 calories, my lunch will be no more than 390 calories, my evening meal will be no more than 390 calories and my total snacks throughout the day will be no more than 260 calories.
- I will get weighed every week at Be Strong, to make sure I am on track.
Then you need to get the meat on the bones.
How exactly will you eat to those calories? Don’t just say ‘I will eat less’. Get specific!! What food will you eat that you enjoy that fits those calories? You can get loads of meal ideas and recipes to help with this in our premium recipe packs and recipe database. Take this plan one step further and sit down with a pen and paper, and come up with a list of meals and snacks that fit in with your calorie allowance, and write a meal plan for the week. It will take you maybe an hour on a Sunday to plan for the rest of the week, but it will help you to stay on track and avoid grabbing anything when you are hungry.
Tales of the unexpected
There might be occasions that throw you off plan unexpectedly, and you will need to claw some calories back to make sure that you are hitting your interim targets, but we have something for that too.
If you know you are going out at the weekend, and will be having food and a few drinks, then use the ‘Weekender plan‘, to lower your calories during the week, fitting your food accordingly, and then you can splurge on your night out.
Equally, the weekender plan can be used in reverse, so if you end up going out and having a splurge unexpectedly, when you haven’t quite planned for it in the days leading up to it, you can pull it back by using the lower calories in the days following the splurge, to regain your deficit.
Example plan for a physical activity goal
Having a goal of a physical activity can only be achieved by training. So your plan has to be a regular training program aligned to the activity that you want to participate in, after all there’s no point swimming three times a week if you want to take part in a cycling event.
Whilst there is benefit in cross training, to improve all over fitness and core strength, the majority of your training has to be based upon the main event!
So lets take the Route 66 event in May, that some of our members are taking part in, as our goal.
We need to know what we want to achieve in detail. The event is a 3 day event, where each day we will walk 22 miles per day. The course is on trail and woodland with natural obstacles and natural inclines.
So from this we can ascertain that in 14 weeks, we need to be able to walk 22 miles comfortably, we need to include some woodland trails and hills in our training, to make sure we are used to the terrain.
So, depending on our start point, our plan might be to walk three times a week, building the distance over the 14 weeks. We might also want to include some cross training in to build our core strength.
Example goal – I want to be able to walk 22 miles comfortably over rough terrain, to be able to participate in the Route 66 Event on 13th-15th May.
A good plan would be:
- I will walk 3 times a week – 2 nights a week and one day at weekend – Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, to the schedule below. My routes will include woodland trails and hills.
- I will attend a Be Strong sessions and take part in the HIIT session each week – Wednesday (6.15pm)
- I will fuel my body like an athlete. Eating 5 pieces of fruit and veg a day, good quality protein in every meal, and complex carbs like pasta and rice. I will hydrate with water, and keep a check on my calorie intake.
|w/c24th Jan||3miles||3 miles||5 miles|
|w/c 31st Jan||4 miles||4 miles||6 miles|
|w/c 7th Feb||4 miles||4 miles||8 miles|
|w/c 14th Feb||4 miles||4 miles||8 miles|
|w/c 21st Feb||5 miles||5 miles||10 miles|
|w/c 28th Feb||5 miles||5 miles||10 miles|
|w/c 7th Mar||5 miles||5 miles||12 miles|
|w/c 14th Mar||5 miles||5 miles||8 miles|
|w/c 21st Mar||5 miles||5 miles||14 miles|
|w/c 28th Mar||6 miles||6 miles||16 miles|
|w/c 4th Apr||5 miles||5 miles||10 miles|
|w/c 11th Apr||6 miles||6 miles||18 miles|
|w/c 18th Apr||5 miles||5 miles||12 miles|
|w/c 25th Apr||5 miles||5 miles||20 miles|
|w/c 2nd May||5 miles||5 miles||10 miles|
|w/c 9th May||Rest||Rest||Event weekend|
Following through with the plan
A plan is only any good if you actually follow through with it, so when you are planning training days, times and routes, you will have to consider other things going on in your life – work and family commitments, or other events that you might be attending – get your diary out and put these events in your training plan too, so that you know what you are doing ahead of time.
It might be that you need to get up early to get your training in, or watch your favourite TV show at a different time than usual. Just make sure that you can actually deliver on what you plan to do in your training program. This might seem like we are teaching you to suck eggs, but it is easy to forget that you also have a life when you are caught up in the excitement of planning for a really challenging event and can end up over committing yourself.
There may be things that throw you off plan, that come up unexpectedly, so you will need to juggle things and maybe move things around at short notice to make sure your training happens. If the event scares you, and takes you out of your comfort zone, then the training is the only thing that is going to get you to the start (and finish!) line.
As you can hopefully see, having a clear and well constructed plan is the only thing that guarantees that you will get to where you want to be. So this week we want you to examine your current goal and have a go at writing a proper plan. If you don’t know where to start ask us! It’s the perfect time to refocus, so seize the opportunity and maximise your motivation to get you to where you want to be.
Next week we are looking at weight loss basics, so you truly understand how to lose weight.