You have a lot going in your life right now: long work days (potential promotion coming up), three kids at home, summer parties every weekend and a vacation to plan for. What do you do? You must prioritize what is most important at this very moment and focus on that first. I mean how many times have you tried to juggle too many “life” things and ended up not finishing one or more of them on time or at all?
Obviously, yes you need to balance a lot of those things I listed above. I know I talk about balance all the time. But, if your spouse can take some of the load of being with the kids for bit so you can focus on that job promotion that might help your stress levels. It will also allow to you have bit more tunnel vision towards that goal of getting the promotion. In the long run would you say that is best way to do it? A promotion that will set you up for the next 20 years of your life? A bit of a sacrifice for maybe 6-9 months where you grind it out day in and day out for work? It might suck now, but in the long run it would be worth it. Wouldn’t it?
**Again, no kids here and not trying to give parenting advice It is the best way I can compare that to what you are about to read…………
Well, the way you prioritize your life tasks is the same you must prioritize your health and fitness goals. This is a major struggle for many people as it is very easy to fall in the trap of “I want to run a 5k AND lose 50lbs AND do Crossfit 5 days per week AND start biking on the weekends AND get my butt tone and put on 10lbs of muscle, BUT still go to happy hour with my girlfriends on Friday AND still eat what I want Friday through Sunday ANNNNNNDDDD still sleep until noon every Sunday.”
You can definitely achieve all of those fitness and life tasks listed above in a week. Will you struggle to do all that? Yes. Will all your workouts go as planned? Probably not because you will be worn down two weeks into your plan. Will your weight loss come as expected? Probably not, since your discipline during the week doesn’t always (very rarely) balances out your binges on the weekends. Will you end up DISAPPOINTED and FRUSTRATED? I am going to say there is great possibility that yes, you will.
I know I have mentioned this in other posts. At all costs the one thing you must avoid in your weight loss or lifestyle change journey is continual disappoint for not reaching your goals. This disappointment is one of the major reasons I see clients give up. You must start with prioritizing what is MOST important to you RIGHT NOW. Maybe the 5k, and Crossfit and losing 50lbs and biking and getting tone are all important to you. But, what is most important right now?? Focus on that. Set yourself up for success (too often people set themselves up for failure before they start). Get obsessed over that. Accomplish that goal. Then get started on your next goal.
See what I am getting at? This all goes back to setting realistic, specific goals that have a deadline.
Wait. Why can’t you train for a 5k and do crossfit and lose 50lbs simultaneously? You can do all of those things! But, if you want to do one of those things to your BEST ABILITY and get the MOST RESULTS, you must focus on one at a time.
Here is an example of a client of mine named Robin. I met Robin almost two years ago now. Her goal was to lose 60-70lbs and improve her health after having 3 kids. She did an amazing job of PRIORITIZING that her weight loss and getting off blood pressure meds (they went hand in hand) needed to come first. She used to be a runner, but we agreed that running should be postponed until she worked on her nutrition, making exercise a habit and getting introduced to resistance training. Well, she grinded away day in and day out, getting better each week, improving her health and seeing the lbs come off. When, she had a reached a weight she felt “great” at, she switched her focus to run training as she trained for the 10k Winter Run series this past winter. Her ability to prioritize weight loss and overall health first, set her up for very successful winter of running, setting a PR in many races. She couldn’t have had that running success if she hadn’t prioritized what was MOST important right away. If she hand’t prioritized her goals from the beginning she could still be spinning her wheels wondering why nothing has changed with her health!
I always use the example of prioritizing weight loss/fat loss/toning etc vs. run training because I literally see it on a daily basis. We as society have this notion that running will help us lose weight. Running can definitely help you lose weight in the short term, especially if you are sedentary..any movement and calorie burn will stimulate weight loss. But, most people come to me already somewhat active (many have run 5ks) and their goal is more weight loss or fitting in their clothes better. When I hear these goals from new clients, I always suggest a period of 6-9 months to focus on nutritional habits, getting stronger, building muscle and improving metabolism (that comes with more muscle) before we focus on a performance goal like running a 5k. When clients switch their focus to run training, the weekly weigh ins and and focus on body composition take a back seat.
Many of my “weight loss” clients transition into “running” clients training for their first 5ks or 10ks or even half marathons. Those are such good goals to have! Buttttt, not your most practical goal if you say “I want to lose 40 more lbs by next year.” PRIORITIZE. Remember, running and cardio doesn’t help you tone…resistance training and proper nutrition does. Trying to run 8-10 +miles per week, while also trying to hit the gym 3 times for heavy resistance training to tone your butt just doesn’t make much sense for most people, as those modes of exercise are counter balancing each other.
**Yes, some people have time to do all that running mileage and lifting…they are called professional athletes. It is their job.
But, if you love your Sunday jog, don’t give that up! Just realize, if you prioritize toning up and getting stronger, your focus must be in the gym. Maybe one day a week of easing jogging is best, with a focus on 3-4 gym days.
Also, another side note. If you are in a mode of maintenance, you are happy with your weight, appearance and exercise program that includes running and lifting, then by all means keep at it! But, when you want laser focus on one specific goal, that is when you must prioritize your exercise selection. Meaning, training for a half marathon isn’t your best option if you want to fit in the shorts you couldn’t fit in last summer.
So why do we need to prioritize our goals again? So we don’t put too much on our plate that we can’t achieve, leading to your eventual disappointment and frustration. I used to be inexperienced and I tried to do it all at the same time as well. Right out of college I would still run 2-3 times per week, while lifting 4-5 times per week, all while wondering why I couldn’t really achieve my ultimate goal. I mean I was in good shape, but not seeing the change in my body I really wanted. I wanted more muscle mass…I had to sacrifice something…that meant cutting back on the running to 1 day per week. When I did this, I started gaining muscle like I never had before. I got more specific with my goal and more specific with my plan. End result: goal achieved.
Then, this spring as I ramped up my run training I had to sacrifice again…this meant cutting back on my upper body lifting so I wasn’t top heavy. It worked. I prioritized what was most important to me at the time.
Life is very rarely set up perfectly for your success, so prioritize what you really, REALLY want and go all in