Most people develop fitness goals that revolve around image, measurements, or to "feel good." Specifically, after people are past their glory days of athletic competition, the desire to train tends to go by the wayside and is replaced with social eating, drinking, or binge-watching the newest Netflix show. Don't get me wrong, I have watched The Office in its entirety too many times, and everyone knows how much I enjoy a good Sunday brunch with friends. I won't try to pretend that exercise is my life and nothing matters more than how much I can deadlift . I do love fitness, but I to go through ruts where I simply can't convince myself that doing a workout to maintain a healthy weight or that avoiding IPAs to fight off a beer belly, are actually worth the effort.
Goals dependent on a scale, mirror, or an arbitrary feeling of "goodness" lack something that fuels most people, a deadline. Deadlines help keep people focused. Whether you are in college and you have a research paper due or you work in sales and meeting a required quota based on a specific timeline with the possibility of reward or punishment will help to motivate individuals. When weight-loss is a goal we tend to see people struggle to maintain motivation because of the constant swings in weight from day to day, the length of time it takes to reach said goal, and the ability to so easily to return to the initial weight after achieving that target weight.
Goals based on image can be very dangerous because many develop or already have issues seeing their positive traits. These people can slip into a state of body dysmorphia where they never think they "look good" or can never be thin enough. What you look like shouldn't be a goal, but a positive bi-product of your healthy habits. Eating healthy, fresh foods that aren't only following your proper caloric intake but are full of vitamins and minerals will yield a healthier-looking you. Not only will your body composition improve but your skin, hair, and overall aura will resemble your efforts. All these changes come with time and you will come as a result of consistency over time.
Having performance based goals doesn't mean you have to train for some crazy event like the CrossFit Games or an ultra-marathon. What performance training relates to is training with the intent to improve. For some, improvement might be to set a PR in their 1600m. For others it means they want to do be able to do their first pull up before the end of summer. Targeting a performance-based goal has value in the mind and heart of the trainee. The great thing about these goals is they can increase in value. The longer you train for a specific performance-goal the more invested you become and the more likely you are are to make decisions revolving around achieving your goal. Unlike weight related goals, performance goals aren't complete until the day of competition or you have achieved what it is you set out to do. When we start feeling better about the way we look or we get near our goal-weight it is common to see a relapse and a false sense of achievement.
Having a goal with a deadline like a competition or a specific date with a reward at the end will help maintain focus until the end. There is less chance of rewarding yourself prematurely. It would make me feel really dumb if I decided to have my post-race beer the night before a race then didn't finish my race the next morning. Performance training not only keeps me accountable, it also drives me to get up early on Sundays, fueling my competitive spirit.
Performance is all about competition. Whether it is intrinsic, climbing your first 5.11 rock wall, or social, scoring the winning goal for your vavi league, competition will drive you much more, and more sustainably than other motivators. Performance goals tend to have a reward that we are proud of beyond others. Achieving a feat breeds confidence in one's self. People tend to brag to friends and family as well as social media when they accomplish something new. It is an amazing feeling to say to yourself your hard work paid off, and even better to tell others.
Stay focused. Work hard. Train efficiently. Eat for Performance.
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