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If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

With few exceptions, most successful body transformations started with a want: a better body (or at least a better shaped one), more energy, a healthier lifestyle, improved health markers, more endurance, a better example to family, increased strength, decreased body fat, better metabolism, shapelier arms, a more toned butt, better sports performance, or whatever. But until that ‘want’ was turned into a specific goal (or set of goals), it remained wishful thinking, lacking the power to help drive behaviors towards making it reality.

The two main difference between a want and a goal are usually an action plan and a deadline. Therefore for those who want to truly change their lives to reap the benefits of a healthier, stronger body the next step is define your ‘destination’ in as much detail as you can, because where you want to be will usually suggest the best ways to get there. Most of us have heard of SMART goals. While many descriptors can be used to define goals as SMART, I’m defining them as Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time Bound. In a nutshell, goals that don’t meet these criteria are too wishy-washy to be of much help – either too vague or broad to know if you are moving closer to them or farther away, are based on subjective evaluations that can change with your moods, aren’t really something you can take daily actions towards, require more work or resources than you can realistically provide and/or are too long-term to be useful at the moment. It doesn’t mean that huge goals aren’t great – because they are. It’s just that to be SMART, it’s usually a good idea to break them down into smaller, shorter-term goals so that you can build momentum, celebrate many successes and enjoy the journey along the way. Changing your body must happen in the context of your life – don’t cheat yourself out of the satisfaction of succeeding at making small changes and being consistent because it’s the small things that we choose to do, and not do, that make a life.

Two notes on specific and measurable

  1. Unless you can measure something, you know nothing. And you’ll never know when you’ve reached it. Do you want to lose weight? OK – perfectly fine WANT. Now lets break it down: lose weight or body fat? How much (kg, lbs, % body fat)? Lose cm? How many? Fit into a size “Q”? Which brand of what? By when? Eat better? How – X servings of foods, Y servings of water, Maximum #of items allowed (servings of alcohol, unsupportive meals, etc.)? Improve your blood pressure? By how much? You’ve got to take the time to be specific if you want your goals to help you.
  2. Along the same lines: what are your starting points? Take your current measurements, and BEFORE pictures (trust me, you’ll be so very thankful you did), get the details of how current clothing fit (again with pics is best), what you currently eat (5-7 day detailed food diary), medical reports (blood tests, etc.). Successful transformation started with people knowing exactly where they were and where they wanted to be. Armed with those tools, they could map out the daily ABCs (actions, behaviours and choices) that would bridge that gap.

Stay tuned: Body Reshaping Basics #3 – Eat Well.