As I mentioned on Facebook recently, it’s important for your behaviors, goals, and expectations to be on the same page. People often get misaligned here, which either drives unnecessary stress or future disappointment.
Let’s go over a few examples of what it means for these things to be aligned before I point out how they can get all disjointed.
Goal #1 – Adding Lean Mass
Behaviors: Slight calorie surplus and 3-6 resistance training sessions per week (depending on training history, etc). Generally speaking, 6-12 repetitions with constant tension – i;e controlled bench presses rather than explosive medicine ball throws. Very little, if any, formal cardio.
Expectations: .5 lbs to 4 lbs of lean mass per month (depending on gender, age, and training history)
Goal #2 – Relatively Fast Fat Loss
Behavior: Creation of a 5,250 to 7,000 weekly calorie deficit by a combination of exercise and diet changes. A few hours per week of cardio probably necessary. Counting calories pretty much required.
Expectations: 6 to 8 lbs of fat loss per month
Goal #3 – Chilling the F Out and Enjoying Exercise
Behavior: Integrating new healthy habits but being cautious to not drive one’s self nuts with calorie counting and other behaviors that are not currently appropriate; engaging in a minimum daily target of time standing or steps taken; 2-4 exercise sessions per week of something you enjoy rather than staying on the couch and watching pseudo-reality shows.
Expectations: MAYBE lose fat. MAYBE gain muscle. Improved relationship with food and exercise and reduced disease risk.
Where This Becomes Disjointed
Here are a few examples of common ways these get misaligned:
“Goal” and Expectations: Lose 5-8 lbs per month
Unsupportive Behaviors: No calorie counting or meal plan following, rare weighing/measuring/progress pictures – too infrequent to inform us if on track or not.
“Goal” and Expectations: Gain 1-4 lbs of muscle in month; increase strength.
Unsupportive Behaviors: Largely, if not completely, randomized group exercise classes that do not hit the needed rep ranges with the appropriate weight.
As you can probably see, in both of these cases, the “unsupportive behaviors” are actually perfectly appropriate behaviors from the original example of someone whose goal is to be flexible with their diet and have fun with their exercise and still reap some health benefits. They’re just not at at all appropriate if more aggressive goals are had – and they certainly shouldn’t come with the high expectations of those goals being met. It’d be really nice if you could just do anything and get the result you want. We’d all sleep until 1pm, play video games all day, AND be millionaires if our behaviors and goals/expectations were extremely flexible. But unfortunately, the results you get will always be linked to your process.
And therein lies the rub. If your goal is to REALLY just enjoy being active and making a few healthy habits, own that shit. Don’t tell yourself you’re trying to lose massive amounts of weight and certainly don’t expect it. It might happen, if so, cool. Bonus.
And if you’re dead serious about adding serious strength, muscle, or burning body fat, then you may have to step outside you comfort zone and be more aggressive with your goal-getting behaviors to get the more ambitious goal attained.
There’s no right or wrong. I don’t really care if you personally want to count your calories and ensure an aggressive (but still healthy) pace of fat loss or muscle gain or if you want to just want to have fun and make some positive changes without reverting to old patterns that cause you to freak out and “fall off the wagon”.
I just care that you are clear on what you really want and what you’re going to do to get it. Make sure your behaviors, goals, and expectations are aligned. And be clear with yourself if you care more about your specific process you’re working on or if you care more about a specific result.