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Be Intentional

by on March 27, 2013

At almost 11 in the morning, my church’s youth pastor Tweeted “Thinking about my approach & priorities for today. #beintentional.”

I jokingly replied with “I suppose I should intentionally get out of bed at some point soon.”

Don’t laugh, I’m in a cast! Oh the pain I’m in! Ok, I’m not really in a lot of pain, I just can’t put any weight on my right foot or bump it on anything or really move it around at all.

But there’s still a lot that I can do, even in this condition… only as long as I am intentional about doing something.

Take this blog, for example. I know what sort of posts I want to write here. I desire to write about fitness and motivation. I have a few ideas for posts bouncing around in my head that need to get typed out. And I’m excited by the “likes” I’ve seen.

None of that gets a blog written. I need to sit down, put fingers to keys, keep the topic goal in mind, and get at it. It has to be intentional.

Likewise, fitness doesn’t just happen.

We all probably know something about good exercise habits and healthy diet choices. We all want to be “in good shape,” maybe even “in better shape than I am right now.” Most of us probably spend some time exercising or lifting at a gym, or jogging or cycling outside. Maybe we try to diet or at least eat “well.”

That doesn’t necessarily add up to meeting or exceeding your fitness goals.

When I led indoor cycling classes, I would always ask the participants to consider why they were there that day. Indoor cycling relies heavily on the participant’s proper use of the resistance knob to get an effective workout. But there are similarities in so much of what we do: if you don’t push yourself to lift the appropriately difficult weights, if you don’t force yourself to jog at a sufficiently challenging pace, if you don’t turn up the resistance on your favorite stationary cardio equipment, then you’re not getting the most out of your efforts.

Set goals, and strive to meet them. Be intentional about it. Walk into the gym with a sense of purpose, knowing what you’re there to achieve.

If you’re in a rut, challenge yourself with something slightly different. Try a group session or a new class. Set a new goal that pushes you past your current plateau. Don’t let your workout become just another box checked, another item on a “to do” list that never ends.

Your time and effort are precious commodities. Make the most of them.

And be intentional about it, not haphazard.

And be intentional about it, not haphazard.

For a refresher, there are good goals and bad goals. “I want to get fit” is nice, but it’s not a good goal. Neither is “I want to lose weight,” “I want to look better,” or “I want to feel healthy.”

Goals – to be effective – must be:

Specific – nothing vague or indefinite as that leaves wiggle room for you to quit. “I will work out more.” When? “I will work out each week.” How much, and when? “I will work out three times a week in the morning on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I will go to a Spin class on Thursday or Saturday.” What time? With whom? What kind of workout? The more specific you can get, the easier it will be to live up to the commitment.

Measurable – How do you know you’re getting closer or straying farther from achieving your goal? “I’m going to lose weight” is vague. “I’m going to lose 20 pounds” is measurable. “I’m going to run faster.” Ok, sure. Good luck. “I’m going to run a 6 minute mile.” Now you’re talking. Track where you’re at now, and set a measured goal for where you want to be. A measurable goal allows you to see the progress you’re making, which spurs you on to achieve better results.

Attainable – Your goal must be realistic, something actually within reach through healthy effort. “I’m going to run a marathon as soon as I get out of this cast!” No, I won’t. There’s physical therapy and recovery before I can even consider jogging, let alone a lofty goal like 26.2 miles. “I’m going to get into a size 2 before summer” may not be a healthy and safe goal, depending on where you’re at now. “I’m going to drop 30 pounds in the next month” is definitely not attainable — not without seriously harming your body. Having an attainable goal challenges you without setting you up for failure and despair.

Relevant – If your overall purpose is to get healthy and fit, then your goals and efforts along the way should naturally support that. Working out on the elliptical machine isn’t going to help you lift more. Doing push-ups isn’t going to make you a faster runner. Getting some new Nike outfits doesn’t support my goal of getting fit at all. Smaller goals and achievements will build on one another to help you reach your larger goal or live out your overall purpose. Relevant goals keep you moving in the right direction.

Time-bound – Setting a time constraint puts accountability into your program. You made a measurable goal; now you set a time component in the goal so that you can see if you’re progressing as fast as you’d like. “I want to lose 20 pounds,” I tell myself. A month from now, I check my weight and see I’ve lost 1. Three months from now, I’ve lost 4. Great, I’m making progress, but I think we’d all agree that I’m not achieving my goal in a timely manner. Now if I say, “I want to lose 20 pounds in the next three months,” I am going to see very quickly if my efforts are making enough progress. I won’t be flailing around hoping to “someday” achieve my goal. Setting a time limit encourages me when I’m ahead of schedule, and pushes me when I’m falling behind.


From → Get Moving

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