Got Fitness & Health GOALS? You Should (and Here Are Mine).

Fitness in our 40’s, 50’s, 60s and beyond is more about long-term health, general vitality and happiness than it was earlier in life.

So, some cosmetic or vanity-driven objectives like pumping up the biceps or having a six-pack become less important.

But having said that, fitness GOALS are still critical for 40+ guys, probably more than ever. Why, what kind of goals, and how to use them? Let’s take a look.

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Fitness in our 40’s, 50’s, 60s and beyond is more about long-term health, general vitality and happiness than it was earlier in life.

So, some cosmetic or vanity-driven objectives like pumping up the biceps or having a six-pack become less important.

But having said that, fitness GOALS are still critical for 40+ guys, probably more than ever. Why, what kind of goals, and how to use them? Let’s take a look.

WHY WE NEED GOALS

Goals:

1. Provide focus + motivation, and fight distraction + procrastination. Think of the difference between “I should get some exercise today” vs. “I need to get my workout in today to keep progressing toward that race I circled on my calendar.”

2. Push us to get better, stronger, faster in areas where we CAN improve. Yeah, our maximum physical potential is past its peak. But how many of us have previously achieved 100% of that potential? Our theoretical potential may be lower now, but in at least some areas we can attain a higher percentage of it, and thus be more physically capable than we used to be. That’s what I want and I bet you do too. Goals help.

3. Spur learning and thoughtfulness. Asking “what’s the best way to pursue my goal?” meaningfully helps refine your workout approach and improve results. When brainpower and ability to learn and strategize come into play…that’s where we’ve got our younger selves beat, brother.

In addition to these things, fundamentally, it feels good and enhances life satisfaction to set a goal and nobly pursue it. Of course, it’s best if you achieve the goal, but there’s benefit and worthiness in the attempt itself. I’m inspired by what Teddy Roosevelt said about this.

EXAMPLES OF GOALS

Performance results goals are the kind people often think of. More, farther, faster, or do something you couldn’t do before. Such as:

  • Strength: increase to XX push-ups
  • Endurance: swim YY meters, or run ZZ miles (or do things like this at some targeted pace)
  • Flexibility & Balance: become able to do a yoga pose you never could before

But there are all kinds of other goals, man. These other goal types are critical, because they allow goal-setting from wherever your current starting point is, and let you keep using goals for years and decades to come. But if your only goals are performance ones, eventually you won’t be able to achieve new ones. You can only do so many push-ups, even if you’re Jack LaLanne.

Achievement or actions-taken goals focus more on the simple and beautiful fact that you did them. These are almost totally within your control; you say you’ll do it and then you do it (goddammit)!

Examples:

  • A race (running, biking, triathlon)
  • A streak. “I’m going to work out every Mon, Weds, Fri, and Sat for the next three months.” “I’m going to attend that class every Thursday.” Etc.
  • An effort level. “I’m going to get into the ‘improving’ heart-rate zone for 30 minutes during each of my endurance workouts.”
  • A quest. Like hiking or biking to the top of something, paddling across something, or running to a destination. Depending on difficulty, this could also be a “performance” goal, but it’s one that has more interest and “adventure” to it, dude. And for 40+ guys, maintaining a sense of adventure in our lives is critical.
  • Nutrition goal. Nutrition behavior goals are better than weight-loss ones. Focus on the actions and let the results take care of themselves. “Every day, I’m going to eat one piece of fruit and skip one sugar/refined-flour thing I normally would have eaten, for the next 90 days.”
  • Wellness goal. “I won’t look at my phone or computer for the one-hour before bedtime, all summer.”

Health metrics goals are a great way to motivate yourself. I’m talking about body-fat percentage and “bio-metric” #’s like cholesterol, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. In a “hierarchy of needs” sense, these are the most important goals you can have. And achieving them naturally involves setting other types of goals.

It’s unfortunate but true: sometimes the “scary doctor’s visit or lab test” is the kick in the butt that starts guys on a better fitness and nutrition road. Whatever it takes, man. Once you’re motivated to get started, it’s highly reinforcing to track how your body chemistry improves.

CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD GOAL

Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

  • Specific: I’m going to run this 5K race on this date.
  • Measurable: Whether it’s miles, time, # of days, did-I-do-it-or-not…have a way to know you achieved the goal. Don’t let it be squishy, you know what I mean?
  • Attainable: Aggressive, and yet achievable, goals are the balance you want. Overly-aggressive ones lead to discouragement, which is your enemy.
  • Relevant: Sounds obvious, but set goals where you most need their help…not just in areas where you already have good habits and do well.
  • Time-bound: “By when?” You need to have that in mind, lest the action always takes place “tomorrow.” 30-90 days as a good time frame, usually.

TAKE ACTION

For you and me both, I offer up this idea: how about, at any given time, having three goals in process, such as for strength, endurance and nutrition? You can also rotate in flexibility/balance and wellness goals over time.

My current goals:

  • Strength: Be able to do 84 push-ups by July 15, 2017. This is me taking the OlderBeast 90-day Push-up Challenge.
  • Endurance: Complete (even if slowly) the Olympic-distance triathlon in Folsom, CA on August 6, 2017. That’s roughly a mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 6-mile run. By the way, this has been just a “maybe” and in my mind only, until I wrote this here and hit “publish.” Now I’m on the hook to actually do this.
  • Nutrition: Eat more vegetables during the day vs. relying on dinner only to provide them. Now through Labor Day, at least twice a week, have a lunch salad. Once per week have vegetables as an afternoon snack instead of other things.

Your goals? They need to come from you, brother. They might be really simple to start, or they might make mine look easy. I don’t care which, and neither should you. Please just (a) think about goals as a concept…(b) think about some specific goals…(c) then, stop thinking and declare “I’m DOING this.”

“Twelve hours out of Mackinaw City stopped in a bar to have a brew. Met a girl and we had a few drinks and I told her what I’d decided to do.” (Bob Seger, Roll Me Away—click to listen)

 

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Six Fitness Actions You’ll Thank Yourself For *NEXT* Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have much to be thankful for this year, man. Even while you gratefully make note of all that, this is also a good time to think ahead.

What would you additionally like to be thankful for next Thanksgiving?

What if on Thanksgiving 2018 you could take a personal inventory and conclude:

1. I’m staying more motivated for fitness – and avoiding major backslides

2. I’m eating better (not perfectly, but better)…and I feel better for it

3. I forgive myself for not always following my fitness plans…but I hold myself more accountable to usually do so

4. I’ve varied my fitness routine, so I’m in better all-around shape than I was a year ago

5. I’m using exercise to better combat stress and make my life feel more spacious

6. If needed, I overcame aches-and-pains to do these things – instead of letting 2018 be a year of narrowing possibilities

Dude! That would be an incredible “thanks” list. So enjoy the coming weeks of 2017 wrap-up and holidays, yes. But I invite you to also make this time a springboard into a meaningful 2018. (Don’t wait for the cliched New Year’s Resolution.)

Here’s the why-and-how of six actions you can take, starting now, to add to your “thankful for” list for next year.

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High-Intensity Interval Program Reviews: Orange Theory Fitness

There’s a lot of buzz around High-Intensity Interval Training, a.k.a. “HIIT”. Research studies highlight its effectiveness and time-efficiency for fitness development and calorie burning. New HIIT-centric gym concepts are being heavily marketed.

HITT interests me because of its inherent fitness benefits, and because it often combines endurance and strength work in an intense way.

I’ve started checking out HITT gym concepts and at-home workout programs, to add HITT into my own mix and also share findings via OlderBeast. This is the first of several reviews, starting with Orange Theory Fitness (“OTF” for short here).

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Study Says Running’s the Biggest Life Extender. Give Credit to Runners’ “Architect” Fitness Approach.

This week, the NY Times cited a Cooper Institute study that found running is correlated with a higher increase in life span than any other exercise. (“An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life” – see link below).

The study’s authors acknowledge this is a “correlation” and not “causation” finding. Quick illustration of causation vs. correlation. A guy keeps finding when he sleeps with his clothes and shoes on, he wakes up with a headache. Did sleeping that way cause the headache? No, it was correlated with it (they frequently happen together), with the common root cause being tequila the night before.

My hunch is this finding is an important correlation between running and positive lifespan impact. It’s not the running itself causing incremental benefit vs. other exercise types. Other exercises or mixes thereof can provide the same physical and mind-body benefits. It’s that, critically, runners are likely to have an “Architect” view of their own fitness, and associated sustainable behavior patterns. These are the causative factors behind maximum exercise impact.

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