Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Goal-Oriented vs. Process-Oriented Training?

I read an article by Lyle McDonald last night about the difference between goal-oriented and process oriented athletes. He explains, a goal-oriented athlete trains for his or her specific competition (i.e. a marathoner completing a race fast as they can), and everything is geared to that specific goal. Win and you feel great, it was all worth it. Lose and you feel horrible, you question everything you did leading up to that event. The process-oriented athlete focuses on the training process and looks at competition as a learning process. He or she may lose, but instead of feeling like a loser, they reflect upon what they did well and what they didn't do so well and make adjustments in their training.

I think this idea can be applied to everyone, especially my clients. Many of them have a goal and that is their motivation for training. They may want to lose 25 pounds, and work towards their goal. However, when they don't achieve their goal (or even after they achieve it and have to maintain it) they are disappointed. In the short-term, working towards the goal provides a great deal of motivation, but it wanes after a while. I think of the training programs in fitness magazines that promise tremendous change in as short as four to six weeks. People work hard for that time frame and then fall off, often regressing significantly.

People who are process-oriented (like me, now. I used to be more goal-oriented with my training) tend to get and maintain the best results. They are patient with their training and nutrition. They understand that the fitness journey is a life-long endeavor and accept that. They also don't worry about the day to day ups and downs (whether that is body weight or training performance). I now don't worry about pushing myself harder or try to lift heavier weights every workout. It is about enjoying the training process. Train regularly and efficiently with good intensity and your body will slowly change. Work on proper portion control with your nutrition. Eat 4-6 small meals a day. Relax when you eat, turn off the tv and computer. Put your fork down between bites. But enjoy the taste of the food. Listen to your body.

We all remember the jocks in high school who, after 10-20 years are the most out-of-shape individuals at their class reunions. Even fitness Icon Arnold Schwarzenegger may not enjoy the training process of a fit lifestyle!

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