Learn to love the PROCESS

There are two views we can take on our goals. One is a process orientation, and the other is an outcome orientation. Naturally most of us tend use the latter, but the former is a much more productive view.

We spend so much of our lives focused on a future outcome that we are unable to enjoy the moments that go by until we get there. This is true of any aspiration you may have in your life whether it be fitness, financial, relationship, or any other type of goal. The first problem with this is; what a waste of part of your life! However long it takes you to lose that 10 pounds or make that six-figure income is time spent so focused on a future achievement that the present moment is wasted.

The other major issue with an outcome focus is that the accomplishment of the goal often does not bring the satisfaction we were hoping for. Our goals are always a moving target. Once we make 50k we want 100k, once we hit that we want 200k. There is nothing wrong with continually striving for more, except that if you will “only be happy when” you get to a certain outcome you will never be happy. Staking our happiness on the destination is setting us up for a pretty disappointing life.

Instead learn to love the process. Enjoy every minute of work put into the goal. Be proud of yourself for the effort you exert every day. Appreciate the continual growth you see in yourself as you chase your dream. Fall in love with the daily grind. When you take this outlook you will enjoy the days, months and years leading up to the goal. And, more importantly, it won’t really matter whether you get there.

I have huge, daunting goals I have set for myself in fitness, career, and life. These goals are going to take YEARS of work to get anywhere near accomplishing. If I hated what I was doing each day, and was waiting to be happy for this end result, I would waste years of my life exhausted and miserable. And potentially never even getting to that illusive “happy place.” Instead I use these goals as a motivator and a guide for my daily pursuits, but I enjoy all of the blood sweat and tears I put in along the way.

This means you have a couple options. You either learn to love what you’re doing, or change it. If you hate the job you’re doing, but it will lead to a comfortable retirement, is it really worth the decades you spend miserable? If you hate dieting and cardio do you really want to be a bodybuilder? Sometimes we learn to love things as we spend more time with them, but we also need to realize when this just won’t be the case. If something makes you miserable leave it behind!

So no more “I’ll be happy whens”. Don’t wait for retirement to enjoy this life. Love it every day.

 

Keys to Making Progress in the Gym

I see so many people at the gym sabotaging their gains because they either don’t do nearly enough, or do way too much. Some people don’t want to get huge or are afraid of injury so they don’t use enough weight, or only train a couple times a week. It is nearly impossible to make any gains without consistent training and decent volume. Others of us have a more is better mindset and push our bodies to the limit every day. Training in this constant state of fatigue is just as detrimental to progress as not training enough.

So how much volume and intensity should you be doing? This is an extremely difficult question to answer, as it is very different for each person based on genetics, gender, training experience, etc. For example, women can generally handle more volume than men. Also, the more trained you are, the more volume you can handle. It will take time for you to figure out for yourself, but I will give you a few ideas to start you out.

#1. You must work, and you must work hard.

In order to see progress, whether is be in gaining muscle, strength, or endurance, you must provide enough stimulus to the body in order for it to adapt. This includes volume and intensity. If you go to the gym and only do a couple sets, barely breaking a sweat you will not see results. If on the other hand, you do a lot of sets, but do not use heavy enough weights to cause damage to the muscle you will also not see results. The same can be said for endurance training. If you want to improve your 10k time you will not do this by running short distances once in a while (not enough volume) or by walking 10 miles every day (not enough intensity). You have to push your body in order for it to change. Working out should be hard.

#2. You must progress your workouts as you progress.

This is probably where I see the most people go wrong. In order to keep improving you have to keep progressing your volume, your intensity, or both. Many of us start out on our workout journey, see some gains, and continue to do the same workouts with the same weights over and over again. Our bodies adapt to the stimulus we put on them, so progress will come to a halt if you are not consistently increasing the stimulus. If you squat 100lb for 5 sets of 5 your body adapts and gets stronger. So in a couple months of doing this workout it will be easy for you, and you will have to lift more weight in order to keep getting stronger.

#3. Recovery is king.

Something that many of us don’t realize is that gains don’t happen in the gym, they happen when you’re recovering from the gym. When you hit a hard workout you cause damage to the muscles. Then when you are relaxing or sleeping your body repairs the muscles, and this is when they grow. This means that if you train too hard too often your body will not have the time to repair itself before your next sessions. If you never allow your body the time and give it the resources (proper nutrition) to recover, you will never see any progress. The more recovery you allow, the harder you can train. If you are unable to get proper sleep, nutrition, or have too much stress, you will need to reduce your training volume accordingly. Recovery is just as important as training, so don’t ignore it.

 

It all comes down to finding the balance of pushing yourself hard enough to make gains, but not so hard that you are unable to recover. Finding that balance is tricky, as it is different for everyone, and is a constantly moving target. (The fitter you are, the more volume you will be able to handle). What you really have to do is learn to listen to your body. Start by making sure your workouts are hard. They should hurt, the weight should feel heavy, you should feel tired, and you should get sore. BUT it should be possible. Don’t go so far that you can’t finish the reps without extremely long breaks, or that you can’t move the next day. Then make sure you do everything you can to recover. This includes eating plenty of healthy food, sleeping, and relaxing. The best way to determine if you have recovered properly is how your next workout goes. For example, if you do 5 sets of 10 squats at 100lb on Monday, then on Thursday, your next leg day, you struggle to do 100lb for a set of 6, you are not recovered from Mondays workout. In general, if you are struggling to accomplish something that is typically doable for you, you likely need more time to recover.

It will take some trial and error to find the amount of volume that your body can handle, but once you find that sweet spot you will see great progress. The secret to all the gains: train really hard, but not too hard 😉

 

Cutting on a Vegan Diet

I just finished up a cutting phase, as I had to lose 4 pounds to make weight for my powerlifting competition last weekend. I thought this would be a good time to talk about some important points about how to cut in general, and how to apply these points as a vegan athlete. Whether you are cutting to make weight, for a bodybuilding show, or just want to get leaner, this should help you figure out how to get there.

Check out our latest video  to see what I ate on my cut!

Cutting, on a basic level, consists of eating fewer calories than you are expending. So when you start a cutting phase, you will reduce the amount of calories you consume, increase the calories you burn, or a combination of both.

One super important point to keep in mind is protein consumption. When you are cutting, you will have to cut your calories, but you don’t want to cut protein much, or at all. (Unless you were eating an extreme surplus of protein.) I recommend staying around .8g of protein per pound of bodyweight. Keeping your protein high will help maintain your muscle mass through the cutting phase. When it comes to protein, especially when cutting, you should spread your protein consumption out throughout the day. Getting some protein in every 3-5 hours is ideal.

So if your protein remains the same that leaves carbs and fats to cut. Fats are essential to our diet, so cannot be eliminated completely. The minimum fat intake should be 10% of your body weight in grams. For example, a 150-pound person should not cut fats below 15 grams. This is a pretty low number, and should be easy to fit into your diet throughout a cut.

Carbs, on the other hand, don’t necessarily have a minimum intake requirement, but they are extremely important for fueling our bodies the best possible way. If you are working out, you want to use carbs to fuel your workouts. This is especially important if you are cutting for a sport. Carbs are also important for maintaining muscle while cutting. For these reasons I recommend keeping carbs as high as possible while consuming a caloric deficit and fats above their essential level.

Because carbs will have to be lowered during a cutting phase, timing them appropriately becomes even more important. In order to best fuel your workouts and prevent muscle loss you should consume the majority (or all) of your carbs in your pre and post workout meals. If you don’t do this you will likely see a decrease in performance, and increase your risk of catabolism.

Now what makes cutting on a vegan diet a little trickier is the fact that our protein sources are not pure protein. Eating chicken or fish allows you to add as much as you need for protein without affecting the other macronutrients. Plant-based protein sources will all have some fats or carbs that come along with them. For example, almonds have 14g of fat for every 6g of protein. Black beans have 18g of carbs for every 7g of protein. These are great sources of protein, but if you can’t afford the extra fat or carbs they may not fit your diet.

This means that you need to be conscious of your protein sources, and they may need to change as you progress with your cut. If you are looking to cut fats you can move to beans and legumes, which tend to be more carb heavy. If you are looking to cut carbs you can move to more nuts and seeds, which tend to be more fat heavy. Foods like tofu, edamame, and seitan are really great options, as they have more protein and less carbs and fats per serving. Plant-based protein shakes can also help increase protein without much affect on the other macros, but try to get the majority from food!

To sum up, make sure you are firstly controlling your total calories. You will not lose weight if you are not in a caloric deficit. Next, make sure you are getting enough protein, and spacing it throughout the day. Then figure out fats and carbs with however many calories you have left to spare. And finally, as a vegan, pay attention to the macronutrient make-up of your protein sources, and adjust them accordingly.

 

Join our email list to receive a free plant-based macronutrient breakdown document to help you choose your foods appropriately!

 

 

If you want help with your plant-based cut check out our one-on-one Nutrition Coaching

How should you train?

I think one mistake that a lot of us make is pigeon holing ourselves into one specific style of training. I’ve seen so many people get stuck doing bodybuilding style training day after day, year after year, never getting any different results. I see the same thing with cardio queens, who do tons of cardio every day, and their progress has stalled out, but they just push harder. When we learn a training style, and see results (which you inevitably will at the beginning of any program) we convince ourselves that this specific training style is best. We never even think about trying anything else

One major problem with this is that it is likely that whatever style training you began with is no longer optimal for your goals. This could be because your goals have changed, or your body has adapted and is ready to progress. For example, if you start out training each body part one day per week, you will very likely see gains at the beginning. This is because you have gone from zero to one. As you get bigger and stronger, though, gains become much harder to come by. For this reason, you should progress your training as you progress. When one day per week becomes easy, add a second day. Also, if your goals have changed from wanting to get big to wanting to get strong your training must change accordingly. Different goals require different training methodologies to obtain.

Another problem is staleness, both physically and mentally. I don’t know about you, but I get really bored going into the gym and doing the same thing every week. If you are bored with your training you are unlikely to push yourself, and will tend to just go through the motions. If you are not putting effort into your training you will not see improvements. Our bodies also develop adaptive resistance. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the first time you do a new exercise you get extremely soar, and a little less sore each time after, eventually not getting sore at all. This is because our bodies get used to a certain stimulus, and will see little to no progress with that same movement. It is important to switch things up to avoid this issue.

Something else that I have found in trying out numerous different training styles along my fitness journey, is that they all tend to be lacking somewhere. If you want to be the best overall athlete that you can be, I don’t think any one type of training will get you there. Specifically, bodybuilders tend to look good, but not be extremely strong. Powerlifters are incredibly strong, but are usually pretty out of shape in cardiovascular fitness. Crossfitters are very fit, but have imbalances due to a lack of accessory work. If you get stuck in one training style you are likely missing out on the benefits of others. I think that even if you are competing in a sport it is beneficial to draw from other sports to enhance your performance, especially in the off-season or further from a competition.

So what’s my advice?

  • Make sure your training is appropriate for your current goals
  • Make sure your training progresses as you progress
  • Make sure you at least switch up exercises or rep ranges when your body (or mind) adapts
  • Make sure your training program isn’t missing an important link

Ultimately I think that the best training program is a combination of many other programs. This is how I program for myself as well as my clients. I think that every training style has benefits that can all be utilized to create one well-rounded program. You can be strong, fit, and look good all at the same time. So try everything! This doesn’t mean you have to ditch your current training style completely, but try switching it up every once in a while. You might find something you love, while getting better results along the way.

 

If you want to try out our training techniques sign up for phase one of the Herb-A-Warrior training systems Here!

Bulking on a Vegan Diet-Part 2

A couple months ago I published a blog post about bulking on a vegan diet. (You can check out that post Here). I set out to use my boyfriend to prove that you can get big on a plant-based diet. So we got him on a solid lifting and nutrition program in hopes to do so. Here’s how it’s gone so far:

Today marks 7 weeks since I started the LOTV Program. Over the last 7 weeks I followed the 6 week hypertrophy block as well as the programmed De-Load week. I had fairly good adherence to the program with the occasional shortened workout due to time constraints. Throughout the 7 weeks I also dialed in my nutrition and made sure to maintain a caloric surplus from plant based foods in order to make the most out of the hypertrophy block. My macro breakdown was roughly 20% Protein, 65% Carbs, and 15% Fats throughout the first 6 weeks and then I shifted to a few less carbs on my de-load week in order to adjust for the lower intensity. In practice that consisted of 5-6 meals a day plus one post workout shake which were all plant based sources.

To say that I was able to put on some mass while using a plant-based diet would be an understatement. My original goal was to go from 180lbs @9% Body Fat to 186 at 11%BF over the course of 15 weeks. However, in just half that time I went from 180lbs. at 9% Body Fat to 191lbs. at 12% Body Fat. Although my Body Fat percentage is a little higher than my original goal I’m not worried about it because I have still put on about 4lbs worth of lean mass. That is a HUGE amount of muscle gain within a few weeks for someone that has been training as long as myself (about 10 years of weight training). With all that weight gain has also come a huge increase in my working load. I have regained a lot of the strength that I talked about losing in my first post, and I think that I will be approaching my strongest yet, but I will not know until I decide to max again.

That said, I have decided to stay on the gain train! Instead of taking the next 6 weeks to do a strength block I will do another 6 weeks of hypertrophy. Over that time I plan on getting close to 200lbs, and although I will continue to put on body fat I should be able to keep it down to around 15%. After that I plan to take off all of the excess body fat with a mini-cut and continue into a strength cycle to progress the rest of my training year. I plan on continuing to post my progress every few weeks or as I approach landmarks within my training. Stay tuned and let’s see just how far a plant based athlete can go!

In 7 weeks of a plant-based bulking diet and solid training he’s been able to gain 11 pounds! His diet was mostly clean, with a few cheats here and there. This shows that gaining muscle does not require meat! It really just takes a solid caloric surplus with plenty of healthy carbohydrates, and hard training of course.

It has been shown time and again that you can get great gains with an omnivorous diet. That is common knowledge, and something I am not looking to disprove. What I want people to realize, though, is that that is just one option, and not mandatory if you want to see progress in the gym. You can choose a plant-based lifestyle for the sake of your health, the animals, and the planet, without sacrificing your fitness goals in the process!

If you need help on your plant-based fitness journey check out our programs Here.

Nutrition Guidelines for (Vegan) Athletes

I’ve received a number of inquires lately asking for tips on how to succeed as a vegan athlete. This is a challenging question for me to respond to in a broad sense, as there are many factors that play a role. Everyone needs different nutrition based on their lifestyle, training type/frequency, body composition, and goals. I will do my best here to bring up some points that are important for us all to be aware of in order to thrive as vegan athletes.

Note: I am focusing on the goal of athletic performance here, not body composition. If you are looking for fat loss these tips are not as applicable. If you are looking to get stronger and fitter, this post is for you.

Nutrition serves two main purposes for athletes. It provides fuel to allow you to perform, and aids in recovery. Both of these are extremely important aspects of training. If you do not have the proper fuel you will not be able to operate at your best during your training. If you do not recover after a training session, you will have too much fatigue built up to function optimally in upcoming sessions for the next day(s). So how do we properly fuel and recover from workouts? Here are a few considerations that play a major role in athletic performance:

#1: Calories

Total quantity of calories is probably the most important factor to consider. Calories consumed-calories expended=Net calories. If your net caloric intake is a positive number you are eating a hyper-caloric diet, and will tend to gain weight. If net caloric intake is zero you are eating an iso-caloric diet, and weight will remain the same. And if net caloric intake is a negative number you are eating a hypo-caloric diet, and will likely lose weight.

For an athlete, the goal is (usually) to build strength or improve performance. If this is the case you will want to be on an iso- or slightly hyper-caloric diet. If you are eating less calories than you are burning you will not have enough fuel for your workouts and will struggle to recover after. On the other hand, eating too many calories will lead to fat gain, which will also hinder performance in the long run.

#2: Protein

I’m sure you’ve heard that proteins are the building blocks of muscle. In our bodies there is constantly a building and a breakdown of muscles, especially with hard training. Consuming adequate protein reduces the breakdown rate and increases the building rate. In other words, it allows our muscles to recover faster after we beat them up in training. In order to build or even maintain muscle mass it is extremely important to consume enough protein.

In many wonderful sources on plant-based diets we learn that we don’t need nearly as much protein as most people believe we do. This is completely true. We need very little protein to survive. But if we want to be big strong athletes, we need more protein than the average person. This is an important distinction that needs to be made. If you workout at moderate intensities just for health, you don’t need to worry as much about protein. If you are looking to maximize strength, size, and athletic ability, it is vital that you eat enough protein to do so.

For an athlete 0.8grams of protein per pound bodyweight should be plenty to gain and maintain muscle mass.

#3: Carbohydrates

The main role of carbohydrates is to provide quick energy sources, especially in higher intensity sport performance and training. The higher the intensity, the more we rely on carbs for energy.

When we eat carbs we store them as glycogen in our muscles. This glycogen is the best fuel source for our bodies. We will use these stores to fuel our workouts. After a workout we must eat enough carbohydrates to replenish these stores, in order for our bodies to recover and be ready for another hard workout.

As an athlete, if you are not eating enough carbs your performance will suffer, your recovery will suffer, and you can actually lose muscle mass. Many people do not want to over-consume carbs for fear of gaining bodyfat. As mentioned before, net calories consumed is the determinant of weight gain or loss. This means that so long as you are controlling your total calories, eating more of them from carbs will not lead to fat gain.

The amount of carbs you need is dependent on your daily living activity and intensity of your workouts. The general range is between 1 and 3 grams per pound of bodyweight. If you have a desk job and you are doing one low intensity workout per day 1gram per pound is likely plenty. If you have an active job and are doing one or multiple very high intensity workouts per day you probably want to stay on the higher end of that range.

#4 Fats

Fats are essential for life, but don’t play a huge role in athletic performance. Fats produce energy, but too slowly to be utilized in workouts, especially high intensity. They do assist with recovery, though, as they provide the slow releasing energy used while hanging out on the couch or sleeping.

So long as you are taking care of your protein and carb consumption, fats should generally take care of themselves if you remain within your calorie goal. I tend to consume and recommend a pretty low fat diet for athletes.

 

Putting all of this together should set up a good structure for your diet. Being vegan doesn’t change these guidelines, it simply means you have to find new foods to fit the proper calorie and macronutrient amounts for you. (Check out my nutrition guide for a list of macros of all the staple vegan foods).

But my #1 tip is definitely sign up for my Nutrition Coaching and/or Training 😉

I hope this helps you on your vegan athlete journey! Like and share the post if you enjoyed it and comment with any questions you’d like me to answer in the future!

Perfectionism

A perfectionist mindset is a debilitating disease when it comes to training and nutrition, yet it is one that most of us have. We tend to see our new lifestyle as an all or nothing venture, where we receive a pass or fail grade. We believe that we have to be 100% adherent to the plan or we have failed miserably. We eat one cookie or miss one workout and think the game is over, and we will try again next week, month, or year. We then proceed to finish off the box of cookies or miss the next 5 workouts.

This way of thinking is setting you up for failure. We are all human beings and WILL make mistakes. Not might. We will. And that’s ok! Eating one cookie or missing one workout does not ruin your progress. It will actually have little to no effect at all. What derails your effort is giving up after one negligible slip-up.

This is something I have struggled with a lot in my life. I had a hard time enjoying life because I was so worried about sabotaging my progress. I would never let myself slip, and this caused more stress than it was worth. Now I realize that this is not a pass/fail class, and it’s ok not to be perfect all of the time. When I am really tired or we are on vacation I let myself take a day off from the gym. When I am really craving something sweet I’ll have some vegan ice cream. And from this I have found that my progress is actually better! Probably because I am not as stressed out over every detail.

It is irrational to believe that we have failed our entire journey after one slip up. Stop exaggerating the negative consequences of the situation. One mistake probably has minimal consequence, but because we put so much weight on our mistakes we allow them to disrupt the rest of our journey. We pick out that single negative event and dwell on it, ignoring all of the positive experiences leading up to that point. Instead try to focus on all of the things you have done well and the strides you have taken toward your goal.

The most effective mindset is one that is focused in the present. Once you have made the mistake, it is in the past and no longer worth worrying about. You should focus on what you can do in the moment to move you toward your goals. You ate a cookie. That event already happened, but what can you do now to not make it worse? Not eat the rest of the cookies. Maybe you skipped your workout today. So now your focus becomes making sure you make it to the gym tomorrow, and not letting a whole week slip by.

In other words: Learn from your mistakes. If you use them in a positive way, to help you do better in the future, then they aren’t mistakes at all.

A mistake is not the end of your journey, and definitely not the end of the world, so don’t treat it that way. You do not have to be perfect to be fit or healthy. Progress comes with just being better. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be 100% all the time. You can do a good job without being flawless.

Why You Need a Plan

Many of us are somewhere on our fitness journey, but are unfortunately headed nowhere fast. This often isn’t due to a lack of effort or even inconsistency but just a lack of planning. You need a plan because it’s the only way to ensure you get where you are trying to go.

For years I went to the gym every day with no plan at all or just a body part in mind. I would get there and start picking random exercises. Some days I would have an awesome workout, and others it was, “well at least I went, right?” And I made progress. I definitely got a little fitter and built some muscle. But I didn’t make nearly as much progress as I could have made with a plan. Now I write my programs weeks or months in advance.

When you go into the gym knowing what you’re going to do you will tend to get a lot more accomplished. You’ll spend less time debating what exercise you want to do next and more time getting the work done. Even on days you’re not feeling it, when you would normally do a couple exercises and leave, you get in there and check everything off your list. Planning ahead keeps you accountable every day.

Just as importantly, when you put a training plan in place everything within each workout is there for a specific reason, and each workout contributes to the bigger picture. When your workouts are strategically created to work together in a specific way, you will yield the best results. If you do not plan ahead, it is easy to leave important things out, or overuse certain muscle groups. Having a plan directs your adaptations to accomplish your specific goals.

Now let’s look at nutrition.

When you ask most people how their nutrition is they say it’s pretty good. But what does that mean? Do you think that you “eat pretty healthy,” but have no idea what you’re actually eating? This is the case for most people. And it could possibly work for some, but that based on lucky guessing. The issue is, if you have specific fitness goals nutrition plays a large role, and “eating pretty good” probably won’t cut it.

The main determinant of whether you’re gaining or losing weight is total calories consumed. If you have no idea how many calories you’re taking in, and it varies greatly from day to day, how do you expect to lose or gain the weight that you want? It becomes a game of luck. If instead, you track your food, and eat the same quantity each day, it becomes extremely simple to alter your plan to get the results you want.

Macronutrients also play a large role in both body composition and athletic performance. Not planning and tracking your macros can lead to undesired outcomes. Most often we tend to eat a lot more fat than we realize, and for most people, keeping fat pretty low is the optimal diet. If you want the best results you have to feed your body the proper way to get there.

 

If you take a road trip, you are going to reach your destination a lot faster if you have a route mapped out to get there, rather than driving around aimlessly. When we have no plan in place we are relying heavily on luck to achieve our goals. I think it is a better option to set a plan that will take you exactly where you want to be.

Ready to start a plan? Join the Herb Herd

Goal Setting

I am a goal junkie. I am completely obsessed with goal setting. I set goals every day for every aspect of life. While I may take it a bit overboard, I do believe that goal setting is a very beneficial technique for accomplishing anything in life.

Most of us have been taught to use the SMART (specific, measurable, adjustable, realistic, time-bound) acronym for goal setting. I think this is definitely an important step, as it helps to create optimal goals. Because this is a commonly covered subject, I am going to skip it and instead talk about a couple crucial parts of goal setting that I find are often ignored or forgotten.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Goals

I’d loosely define a long-term goal as one that takes 6 months or more to accomplish, and a short-term goal as anything shorter than that. Where we go wrong here is using one without the other. Having both short and long term goals is so important. A long-term goal is the destination, and a short-term goal is the map to get there. If we are missing either one of these we will end up lost.

First, set your big exciting long-term goal (make sure it’s S.M.A.R.T.). Once you have that, fill in the time it will take to get there with smaller short-term goals. There are two techniques I use to fill in short-term goals. One is to divide your goal by the months you have to get there. For example, if you want to lose 100 pounds in a year you would divide 100 by 12 months. Your short-term goals would then be to lose 8.33 pounds each month. The other is to work backwards from your goal date and set milestones. For example, my goal is to lift a 900 pound total at USAPL nationals. My current total is 766. I found a qualifying meet that gave me 6 months before nationals, so I set my goal for that meet at 830 pounds, or about half way between my current total and goal total.

Long-term goals are important so we know where we are going, but short-term goals provide the necessary steps and keep us on track to get there.

Process vs. Performance Goals

The other distinction we often fail to make is between process and performance goals. Process goals are focused on the specific practices you will engage in, and do not take outcome into account. Examples would be things like “I will lift weights 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes,” or “I will run 3 times a week for at least 1 mile.” It is important to include process goals in your plan, because it will enforce the behaviors necessary to accomplish your long-term goal.

Performance goals, on the other hand, are focused on improving your performance in a certain area. “Improve my mile time by 5 seconds,” and “do 5 more pushups,” would be examples of performance goals. The benefit of this type of goal is that it pushes you to be better. It is important, though, that these goals be focused on improving your own performance, and are not a comparison to anyone else.

I highly recommend including both process and performance goals in your plan. I think it is more common to use performance goals, but process goals are often forgotten. Process goals will ensure that you are creating the habits and building the consistency needed to accomplish bigger goals. Performance goals will motivate you to work hard during the process rather than just go through the motions.

 

Goal-setting is much more than coming up with a SMART goal. Ultimately, you should have daily process goals that get you to your short-term performance goals, which are stepping-stones to your big long-term goal. These are all pieces to the puzzle, and without all the pieces the picture won’t come together as planned.

 

Staying motivated for the long-haul

We all get initial jolts of motivation when we are excited to start a new project or goal, but for some reason rarely stay motivated to successfully see it through to the finish. The world of health and fitness is probably the most notorious for this inconsistent motivation. Being a fit and/or healthy individual is a never-ending project that you must continuously work toward your whole life. This is why so many of us work out consistently for a year before quitting for two. I have somehow managed to keep my streak going strong for many years now, so maybe some of my tricks will help you do the same.

Goal setting is a pretty well known motivation tactic. Where I think most people go wrong is failing to set short-term goals along the way to the big long-term goal. People set big goals, like lose 100 pounds or squat 300 pounds, but those goals will take a long time to accomplish. When the finish line is so far away it’s easy to get distracted and lose interest. If you set shorter- monthly, weekly, or even daily goals- it will keep you more excited and motivated during that time period.

Another way to keep yourself motivated over the long-haul is to switch up your training. One way to do this is completely change the type of training- like my continuous switching between sports. It could also just mean changing between phases of training, such as a bulking vs. a cutting phase. Switching up training helps to avoid the staleness that can come with years of training.

These tactics can be extremely helpful for keeping motivation up, but I honestly don’t think it’s possible to keep yourself motivated all the time. Even when you love training, and you do all the tricks out there, there will be days or even weeks that you just aren’t feeling it.

Knowing that slumps will happen at some point, the best defense is having a plan. I used to go into the gym and make up my workout as I went. This worked fine for me most days, but on my unmotivated days it turned into a useless workout. Now I have a structured training plan. On days I really don’t feel like going to the gym I don’t have to think, I just go get the work done. I may not put as much effort in as my best days, but at least I complete the task at hand. I highly recommend having a training plan as I think it can make all the difference when it comes to staying on track during the bad days.

Motivation will inevitably come and go, the real key to success is finding consistency throughout.

 

*Future blogs on how to successfully implement each of these coming soon*