Meaningful progress checks and maintaining motivation

§ November 15th, 2010 § Filed under News Comments Off on Meaningful progress checks and maintaining motivation

Embarking on a new fitness programme can be an exciting time.  In blog #2 I talked about the right level of intensity for a beginner to exercise at.  Too much too soon and it can quickly lead to setbacks and a loss of motivation.  In this blog I deal with some of the next steps to planning a progressive fitness program.

In our professional lives many of us are used to setting S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-banded) objectives in planning our work.  If we recognise that an element of the project is outside of our knowledge and expertise, we seek the consultation of an expert in the given field.  Why not apply the same approach with a fitness programme?  With the support of fitness professional you will be able to plan your programme and be confident that you are well prepared for the exciting project ahead of you.

As you progress, it is useful to make the right checks at the right times depending on what your objectives are.  If the checks are based on unrealistic expectations, don’t factor in all relevant performance criteria, or they are carried out at the wrong times, then failure in meeting your objectives may lead to a drop in motivation and possibly giving up on your programme.

The following scenario includes an example of an objective and a correct and an incorrect progress check:

OBJECTIVE – From being completely inactive at the start, to start exercising, lose 25kg in weight and tone up.

CORRECT – Check weight and body fat % at start.  Expect to increase muscle weight and lose body fat.  If weight is the same at the 4 week check and body fat % has gone down by 2%, good progress has been made.

INCORRECT – Check weight only at start.  After 4 weeks a lot of effort has been made in the gym and fitness has increased slightly.  This has increased motivation to carry on.  However, weight hasn’t dropped.  A view is subsequently taken that exercise has been a waste of effort.

N.B – By improving the muscle structure of the body, it is possible to lose weight and more importantly, keep it off permanently.  Weight loss can sometimes be more drastic without this improvement in muscle tone, but it normally involves losing fat and muscle.  It is more beneficial for lasting weight loss to maintain muscle mass because it will lead to an increased metabolism once the fat has been lost.  In the short term this may mean a slower drop in weight.  Don’t let this knock your motivation.  Look for more meaningful criteria and tests to check progress.  A fitness professional can guide you in this.

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