How Can I Improve
A lot of my internal conversations revolve around goals. I’ve blogged about my fondness of lists and my aspirations for the future and my mind that just won’t shut off. Much of this comes from a deep desire to constantly better myself, continually look for opportunities that will help me with a successful career, and a genuine passion for living a happy life.
Most recently I used this passion to go after an internship that didn’t yet exist —> “You Get What You Work For”
So there are many times I ask myself “How can I improve?” As a student, a friend, an intern, a daughter. But today I’m specifically speaking about improving fitness. Because that is what this blog is all about, isn’t it? You don’t come here to read about another 20-something’s wanderlust and “dreams.”
In order to improve…
…you need some unit of measurement. A quantitative value you can use for comparison. A gauge to tell you if you are, in fact, becoming faster/stronger/leaner/better.
I’ll give my personal goal as an example for these areas of improvement that can be applied to anyone:
Area of improvement: I WANT TO BE A FASTER RUNNER. (I think that is the goal of every runner. To be faster.)
Unit of Measurement: 3 mile time trial (weekly.) AKA Tempo Tuesdays. I’ve been running the same 3-mile course at 5am for the past 3 Tuesdays and here’s how it’s going:
Week 1: 18:39 // Week 2: 18:45 // Week 3: 18:42
I’m nothing if not consistent! Overall, I’m not unhappy with these times…but they don’t represent the downward trend I am striving for. So, cooling down from my 6:14 average pace this week, I asked myself “HOW can I improve?”
We cannot expect to see improvement in our fitness level if the effort is not put in to justify it.
If something doesn’t change in your your diet, exercise, sleep or mental health, you cannot expect to grow and become more fit.
Nutrition: I love talking about nutrition. You already know this. I do not pretend to know everything or have a perfect diet. But I do believe I make a good balance of clean whole foods, healthy nutritious meals, and splurges here and there. You can read about my typical daily diet here.
Things to consider:
- Are you eating enough before a workout to fuel yourself? Are you eating enough afterwards to recover?
- Are you eating too much, to sabotage your efforts?
- Can you cut back on soda/fried food/processed snack consumption?
- Do you eat breakfast?
- Do you keep a food journal?
- Are you getting a good balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats?
- Do you warm up before each workout? Do you include dynamic stretches before exercise and static stretches after?
- Could your routine benefit from more variety? If you are a cardio junkie (guilty!!) then try scheduling a couple strength-based training sessions into your weekly agenda. If you are camped out in the weight room, try venturing over to the pilates class. Sometimes we hit a plateau in our training and it’s important to incorporate variety into a training program.
- Are you resting enough? You might even have to CUT BACK on workouts. If you are in the gym and on the treadmill 7 days a week every week then your energy could be depleted faster than it can handle. Rest days are recharge days so schedule them wisely!
*For my goal to improve my 5k time, I am adding a weekly speed workout. 400 meter, 200 meter, and 100 meter sprints at “interval” pace. (All out.) I’m also going to be more diligent about post-workout static stretches!
This only requires one easy question: are you sleeping enough? If you constantly feel fatigued or tired, your body needs more hours of sleep before you can expect it to perform.
How is your attitude? Positive?
Do you look at fitness as a challenge or a chore?
Are you happy with your body, your energy level and your diet?
- Do you believe that your goal is attainable or does doubt cause you to get off track?
Mindset has a lot to do with results. It’s not just some cheesy cliche – the body achieves what the mind believes is as accurate as it is cutesy. Fitness and health should have a positive connotation, not viewed as a laborous chore to suffer through. In the end, it’s up to YOU and your own mind to motivate you to reach the goal.
*Achieving a mindset that is intrinsically motivated is a habit that I have formed over years of being the Straight-A Student, the Scholar Athlete, and the Over Achiever. I don’t work hard for a reward or for attention or any other tangible reason. It just makes me happy.
Assessing the different areas in your life and setting goals is part of lifelong happiness. And of course once you CONQUER a goal, the feelings of pride and accomplishment will only increase your motivation to do better. That is what lights my fire to run.