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Creating a Realistic Timeline for Long Term Change

All things have a trade-off and achieving your goal as fast as possible may not be as ideal as it seems.

By Stuart Perry, Personal Trainer at Bangor

Asking “how long will it take me to achieve a goal?” in health and fitness is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. Really it depends on a tonne of factors, but understanding your starting point and how much change to your current lifestyle it’s going to require is a great place to start. When setting timelines around your goals it is important to remember that all things have a trade-off and achieving your goal as fast as possible may not be as ideal as it seems.

What most people don’t realize is as you often go through new personal growth and change with your health and fitness goals. You develop a new relationship with your process and yourself. How you do it matters and how hard or easy it is on you matters. Often, we lose sight of this as were so focused on achieving the initial result.

Put simply all achievement costs something, whether it be less time with loved ones, more effort, more money or new discomforts, and to create long term change its important we understand and ask ourselves are we happy to pay this cost? Otherwise, it may leave you feeling resentful and affect you long term.

So when we ask ourselves “What do I want? & when do I want it?” Really, we should also be asking what will that cost and am I able and willing to pay it? Otherwise, it’s like going shopping for a Ferrari without looking at the price tag. Of course, you want it, but once you see the cost you may think differently - all of a sudden that Toyota Corolla doesn’t look so bad hey?

If that sounds like a lot to process don’t worry, I’ve got some helpful tips to get you started.

Specifically, when looking at a timeline for a goal I like to work backwards to begin to understand how much time (weekly) the process will take. For example: For a fat loss goal, it may look something like 2 hours for food prep each weekend and 4 x 30-minute exercise sessions per week.

From there, do a time audit on yourself, covering every day of the week from waking up to going to sleep and noting what are you doing at those times.

Once you have this you can sort them into general categories such as work, personal time, family time, gym, time with partner and so on. Then you just need to fit in those processes we spoke about earlier, for example where does 2 hours on meal prep on the weekend and 4 x 30-minute exercise sessions per week? Doing it this way means you will visually be able to see what you are swapping out to make those things fit and every time you swap something out you will have to actively weigh up weather that change is worth it and think about the repercussions it will have in life not just towards the goal.

Doing it this way helps you think about it in a life sense not just within the 4 walls of the gym, it also helps promote the process being long term and something you can review each week making better and more achievable with every week. This approach also helps give us reasons for good or bad weeks not just self-loathing because we didn’t get the best possible result each week.

Long term our goal is to create something we don’t just tolerate but actually enjoy and that gives back to us outside of the 4 walls of the gym.

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