Have you ever set a personal health goal? Maybe it was to lose weight, set a new pace in the local 5K or do twenty chin-ups. These types of goals are nothing new in our society, every January they become the topic of conversation. If you’ve recently set a health goal or are thinking it’s time to recommit yourself to fitness, make sure the goal you choose makes sense for you.
The human body is an amazing machine, capable of remarkable transformation. One of your body’s most impressive features is its ability to deliver feedback. No two human beings have the exact same body chemistry, so creating achievable fitness goals is just as much about understanding yourself as it is about understanding exercise and nutrition.
Hereditary Influences Are Real
Most of us would love to look like the models we see on TV and in magazines, but some people set themselves up to fail in their attempt to look lean and athletic. The overwhelming evidence suggests that nearly 80% of body composition can be attributed to your genetics.
These numbers mean you’ve only got 20% influence to work with in your quest for fitness. Don’t be discouraged — 20% can make a profound difference.
What’s important to understand when trying to get fit is the work you put in might be expressed differently for you than a friend. Our varying genetic backgrounds pre-wire humans for different physical characteristics. All we can do is take what our genes have given us and shape it with good lifestyle decisions.
Two Halves of the Fitness Equation
If you’re reading this, it likely comes as no surprise that there are two equally important components of a healthy lifestyle — exercise and nutrition. Regardless of what pressure you might feel from society to look “good,” your health goals should be derived from accurate analysis of your body composition and intended to help you feel better.
Unfortunately, the pressures we feel from media, peers and even ourselves often motivate unhealthy conditions like eating disorders. Avoid this pressure by respecting your body and choose healthy weight targets, rather than overstressing your system.
The third half of the equation, often underappreciated, is rest. It is crucial when trying to improve your fitness you get adequate sleep and allow for recovery. If you’re new to training, that means taking time off after a hard workout.
Study What Works for You
A recent study conducted by Eran Elinav and Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science focused on the way different individuals processed a wide selection of food choices. The study closely monitored each participant’s food intake and caloric output. In the end, it revealed that similar food choices could have drastically different effects, depending on the individual.
Dieting is a delicate process, and crash dieting has negative effects regardless of body type. You’ll do yourself far more good choosing realistic health goals and working up to them slowly than making a sudden switch to a drastically different diet. These types of changes can cause your body to go into starvation mode, making it much more difficult to lose weight.
A better approach is not to be afraid of food. Eat what you want, but eat only when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. The stress relief of getting those favorite meals in will help you consistently work towards a healthy goal, rather than relapsing.
Be Proud of Your Results
Remember that you’re doing this for yourself. The health goals you set ultimately won’t affect anyone but you. Their effect on your quality of life, however, can be profound.
Pay attention to your energy levels and mood, rather than watching a scale. You will know when you’ve achieved results and will be happy when you do. Most of all, remember the consistency that got you there. No one is expected to be perfect, and perfection isn’t required to achieve your health goals, it just takes the confidence to make good decisions more often than not. That’s something we’re all capable of.