The Secrets to Long-term Success: Short-term Goals

This post is one that goes into more detail on how and why short-term goals matter more than long-term goals. I briefly went over this topic in one of the article’s in October 4th’s Newsletter, but I wanted to cover it more thoroughly here. I’ll begin this post using that same article:

You’ve most likely heard this before: a dream is a goal without a deadline.

That means once you have the deadline, it’s time to take action. To create your plan to accomplish your goal, you can use the S.M.A.R.T. approach:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Time

You can use other approaches to accomplish your goals, regardless of which type of philosophy on how to achieve your goal, you still need to have short-term AND long-term goals.

Short-term goals keep you motivated and accountable. These are your “check-ins.” This is the category of goals where you initially force yourself to make changes towards your goal. These are the goals where every choice brings you closer to accomplishing your long-term goal or takes you further away. These are the choices, or behaviors, and sacrifices we make. It’s tough, but that’s because it’s supposed to be!

Long-term goals are the outcome goals. They are the “X” at the end of the map. They are the accumulation of all your short-term goals. They are the prize. Long-term goals are what initially brought out your motivation and at the end of the day it could be what keeps you going.

The troubling part is that people are too focused on the long-term goal that they miss steps along the way. They go from “A” to “C” or “D” without ever stopping and accomplishing “B.”

Weight loss is an easy and relevant example to use because it’s so common. Here’s what the initial steps could look like:

A: Establish “why” you want to lose X lbs or use the S.M.A.R.T. method (or do both)

B: Increase exercise frequency (like walking for 30 minutes 3x/week)

C: Eat more fruits and veggies

D: Sleep at least 6 hours every night

So what happens if you go from A to D? You obviously skipped a step, or multiple steps along the way. And then you have a slip like a stressful event due to work or a family member or a loved one. All of a sudden you’re not working as hard towards your goal because there was something that came up.  Without established groundwork, you’re now back to where you started (step A), rather than being caught up on step B or C.

Array of colourful alphabet letters in uppercase on a white background for teaching children languages

(For the record, remember that LIFE ALWAYS HAPPENS!! So prepare the right way instead of the fast way!)

This brings me back to the question: what do you do when something comes up that deters you from your goals?

If you took the time to create the short-term goals then you will have fundamental groundwork in how to accomplish your goal. You will know what you need to do to make your dreams a reality. It may feel like you’re starting “fresh” if you have a setback, but your body and heart know how to get things done, it’s that darn mind of yours that shakes things up.

You know what you need to do. You know you need to add exercise that consists of resistance training in order to achieve sustainable weight loss. You know you need to stop eating more. You know you need to eat more fruits and veggies. You know you shouldn’t be going out to eat more than once or twice each week.
If your goal is weight loss (let’s say your goal is to lose 100 lbs) you become so focused on losing 100 lbs that you miss a couple steps along the way like food prep, consistent exercise, and not eating processed food like chips every day.  Maybe you also didn’t establish that you need to lose 10 lbs before you lose 100 lbs, and a goal of 10 lbs/month for the first 2 months is a realistic goal to have.

8 week​​s later you’re down 20 lbs, but then work gets crazy busy and now you can’t make it to your walks as much and all of a sudden you gain the 20 lbs back in 5 weeks.  You didn’t just gain 5 back, or 10 back, you gained it ALL back.

​​You gained it all back because you never set up all the short-term goals like meal prepping on Sundays or weight training 3x/week or choosing berries over chips.  Setting up those goals could have helped you still lose weight and accomplish your goal while things at work got tough.  (There are obviously a ton of other scenarios and options that could occur.)

missedstep

The point is, when times get tough, recollect on how you got to where you were in the first place.  It’s always been a long-term approach, but we tend to think in quick-fixes.  Quick-fixed do NOT work.

The reasons above are the exact reasons why the quick-fix supplement companies that get you to do a “30 day Challenge” don’t last because you don’t form any GOOD habits.  ​​You just drink a bunch of their shakes, slap on a patch, or take some fat-burners that are supposed to help you lose weight, yet you continue to eat chips, NOT meal prep, and couldn’t fathom exercising. There are exceptions of course, but there’s also a reason why “fat loss supplements” are part of a multi-billion dollar industry.

Another example of preparing for a fitness-related goal could be training for a marathon.​​​​  You don’t start training for a marathon by running 25 miles for your first training session. You start by knocking out shorter mileage sessions while working on your cadence, pace, and gait. Then you progress to longer runs once or twice a week. Eventually you’ll add hill interval days, cross-training days, and much more! Failure to do these small steps will most likely lead to over-training, injury, and a poor marathon time.

Remember to focus on the short-term goals as you keep your eyes on the long-term. Focusing only on the long-term goal neglects all of the essential building-blocks necessary to get you there safely and correctly.

Remember: short-term goals are achieved with your long-term goals in mind.

Osteoporosis: Preventative Care (Add-On)

As mentioned in our previous blog post on the subject of osteoporosis, as we age, our bones can become weak and brittle without the proper care.  This could lead us down a road of surgeries and joint replacements.  With proper, preventative care, however, we can help battle the surgery solution by working on a few select procedures.

One of those preventative tips is to practice proper form when exercising.  I went into detail on how to squat correctly in the previous post linked above.  Form is key.

Form is also relative to more than just when you’re exercising, it’s essential during every day movement patterns like when you’re picking up something off the floor, walking up or down stairs, or chasing kids and grandkids.

Not only does muscle strength come into play, but balance, coordination, and control all play huge factors into keeping you safe.

Working on not one, but all of those aspects will help prevent future injuries and potential joint replacements.  Some of the joint replacement products, like the Zimmer Persona Knee Replacement, can even lead to future replacements and pain and money.

If you work on your preventative care instead of waiting for the worst to happen, you’ll be a step ahead of the game and potentially save you thousands and thousands of dollars in hospital bills.  Nothing will ever replace the joints we were born with.  Practice preventative care by means of working on form, balance, coordination, and control to help improve functional movement and prevent injury!

Osteoporosis: Build Strong Bones & Prevent Knee Pain

Safety is always a major concern for anyone and everyone. Whether it’s at work, at home, or simply out and about, we should always consider safety as a legitimate practice. This is especially true for the mature adult and that’s because of an invisible, underlying health issue known as osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is the thinning of bones as they become weak and brittle. As the human body ages, it becomes particularly susceptible to this disease. White and Asian women are particularly at high risk, especially women older women who are past menopause, but men are also affected, according to Mayo Clinic.

The American Recall Center states that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men will fracture a bone because of osteoporosis.

Here’s a poster from the American Recall Center in regards to last month being Osteoporosis Awareness& Prevention Month.

Osteoporosis_Infographic

While there’s a lot of research out there pertaining to downside of the disease, there’s also plenty of research that shows us what we can do to prevent and battle this invisible monster.

There are some supplements available to you to increase bone density. Calcium and vitamin D, for example, are fantastic supplements that will increase bone density. You can also up your calcium intake by consuming more dairy products and/or by consuming almond, coconut, or cashew milk as they have about 50% more calcium per serving than most dairy milks.

One quick note: if you are a big-time caffeine consumer (I love me some coffee), then you might want to be careful of how much you’re consuming because caffeine has been shown to accelerate bone loss in people who don’t consume enough calcium, according to a study.

I would argue that the most sustainable and effective way to improve your bone density is through strength training.

Strength training (and exercising in general) is an excellent defender of osteoporosis and should become a priority in one’s lifestyle. One of the major benefits of strength training is increasing bone density, which will improve bone strength and durability. The best things about strength training and other forms of exercise is that it’s inexpensive and it literally makes you feel better! You also don’t need a physician’s referral to start exercising. You can literally walk into a gym right now and begin to improve your bone density by running through some exercises.

The best exercises for increasing bone density are free weight, body weight, and complex exercises. These exercises will recruit more muscles, improve your core strength and posture, and get you moving in more directions. Machines are good for just starting out, but you will absolutely want to be transitioning into free weights and body weight exercises as soon as possible.

(Hint, hint: A personal trainer would come in handy quite nicely during this juncture.)

Having good technique/form is crucial for every exercise and that’s where a quality trainer is crucial. Squatting has been known to be bad for knees.

I would say that’s false, squatting incorrectly is bad for your knees.

Squatting involves almost every muscle of your body, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. Here’s a few tips to improving your squat:

  • Make sure your knees do NOT go past your toes as you descend.
  • You should also make sure that your knees do NOT collapse inward. Stay back on your mid-foot/heels and keep your chest up. *A great cue for keeping your knees out is to “push your knees to the outside walls.”
  • Keep your core engaged and exhale on the way up
  • Use a chair or a bench to help assist you as you start squatting as they are safer for the knees. Here’s a video of myself demonstrating the body weight squat.

Practicing those tips at the gym, at home, or even at the work place can help improve your squat pattern. This, in turn, will develop better technique and more force transmitting through the muscles rather than the joints (preventing knee pain).

Osteoporosis is a serious issue and it’s becoming more relevant in our society. As noted, women in particular are more susceptible to this disease, especially those who have gone through menopause. Women also have a bit more of an uphill battle because it’s harder for women to develop lean muscle mass when compared to men.

That means that complex, body weight, and free weight exercises are even more crucial for women.

Make sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. If you aren’t, using a supplement is a good idea until you get your diet to where it needs to be. Obviously your best bet is to get exercising right away and do not shy away from strength training – it’s one of the best medicines, after all.