Where is the START on your game board?

It’s a new year. Many people set resolutions. More have goals for the upcoming year. Much like a board game, it is important to know where you are starting. Similarly, your GPS cannot give you directions to your destination without first determining your current location. Are you clear on what you need to do in order to achieve your goals if you do not know where you are starting?

I’ve been collecting my baseline ‘data’ for the year. I completed a bodyweight workout that I will repeat in 3, 6, 9, and 12 months to see where I improve or remain stagnant. This will help me to appropriately train. I have chosen the following workout because it is representative of daily living activities (and fall within functional training). And since I am training for life…what better way to measure my success? I will be collecting other data throughout this week to work towards some of my specific physical goals, but this is truly most indicative of my overall fitness.

I performed each exercise for 3 minutes, resting 2 minutes between exercises. The exception = 5 minutes for squats. I began with a 5 minute warmup with the jump rope. I chose the jump rope because it is least likely to exacerbate my psoas cramps or any of my other ailments that might interfere with completion of exercises. If you chose to do a similar assessment, warm up in a way that is suitable for you – bike, treadmill, elliptical, calisthenics, etc.

Pushups 55
Squats 206
Pullups 11
Burpees 25
Traveling Lunges 98 (49 each)
Barbell Inverted Row 42
Prone Plank Held for first :35
Dumbbell Swings 81


Immediately after this bodyweight workout, I attempted a 1-mile run. 1/4 mile into this my psoas began to cramp and nausea hit so I took it to a walk and stretch. I hope that in 3 months I will be able to complete the run. NOTE: I used a dumbbell for swings because I did not have access to a kettlebell. A kettlebell would be much easier on the hands/grip for anyone looking to complete this assessment.

Honestly, I am not pleased with these numbers. I will being digging through my files to find some of my old data and see how it compares. The most ‘disappointing’ are the pullups and burpees. But instead of dwelling on the disappointment, I will view this as room for growth and improvement!

It does feel like I’m starting over – physically. The truth is, I am starting over in many ways, so it is fitting that I few everything with a fresh eye. New beginnings. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:19

In what ways do you feel like you are starting over? And in what areas of life do you need to know where you are starting?

Look at those legs! GOAL 6

Years ago I was walking downtown with a girl friend and headed into a bar. A group of guys came out, intoxicated, and were awed by my ‘soccer legs.’ Now, I will be the first to tell you that I do not have soccer legs. If I were to categorize them, they would be mid-distance runner legs! I have naturally strong legs. I remember the first time I managed to squat 225. I hadn’t trained towards it – not specifically – I just pick up the bar and I did it. Whoa!

squatGOAL 6 – Squat 300

After that, I began more focused training. I managed to max out at a 300 pound squat. I will complete 4-6 squats with 300 pounds. My most recent weight has been 235 pounds – I fear going above that without the security of a trusted spotter. NOTE: Due to back and knee restrictions I do not squat to quite 90 degrees. For best results, I encourage everyone to work within their individual range of motion and use proper form, technique, and safety precautions.

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. – Psalm 105:4

How fit am I? GOAL 5

Most fitness assessments measure physical strength through a pushup test. “The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness.” A pushup requires the whole body, engaging muscles in the arms, chest, torso, hips, and legs. The act of lifting and lowering one’s entire weight is taxing even for the very fit. Experts estimate that a pushup requires you to press 70% of your body weight. Jack Lalanne could do a crazy amount of pushups. My fifth goal is a two part goal – because I want to improve my overall fitness and my absolute chest strength.

A pushup and a chest press and a pushup are essentially the same movement. When training clients, those who are too weak for pushups begin with chest presses. Those who breeze through pushups are challenged with heavy chest presses.

GOAL 5a – Increase number of pushups I can complete without rest by 25%

GOAL 5b – Bench Press (barbell;flat) my bodyweight for 3 sets of 6-8

I may need to adjust these numbers slightly after I obtain my baseline data on January 1. It will be important to be realistic with my timelines as a continue to define my goals (See #2).

Goals are DREAMS with deadlines

Did you set a resolution in 2012? Have you stuck with it? Resolutions often fail because of the lack of personal investment. Instead of resolutions, I encourage you to develop a system of goals that will help you make your dream a reality. Goals should be written, specific, personally meaningful, and challenging statements of intent, which have a measurable outcome and a completion date. I have begun posting my personal goals for 2013. You are reading the tagline everywhere – forget resolutions! Let’s set goals and build the foundation for lasting change.

So, how do you set yourself up for success? Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of The Cooper Institute, has established protocol for setting achievable goals. To begin you need to answer four key questions:

1. Where am I? You need to determine your baseline fitness level. Norms are used to show you where you stand in relation to others of similar age, gender, weight, height, etc. Your will need to determine your current fitness level based on these norms – a qualified fitness professional can help with this. This baseline fitness level will be the measure on which you base your success.

2. Where do I want to be? This is your goal, your desired level of fitness. It’s better for a goal to be too easy than too hard. Yet, the goal still needs to be challenging enough and require effort. However a goal that is too difficult leaves you frustrated and bitter, leading you to abandon the goal and give up completely.

Goals are dreams with deadlines. Do you honestly expect to change lifelong habits overnight? Overambitious timetables, not unrealistic goals, are often the cause of failure. Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s protocol provides realistic timelines for achieving your desired outcome. Each fitness component is broken into categories, such as excellent, good, fair, and poor, and includes the amount of time, on average, it takes for significant improvement (one fitness category). Dr. Cooper’s recommended timelines for each component are as follows:

  • Cardiorespiratory fitness—12 weeks
  • Strength—8 weeks
  • Muscular endurance—8 weeks
  • Flexibility—8 weeks
  • Body composition—12-16 weeks

3. How do I get there? The important piece that people often miss is that you need to determine how you are going to achieve your goal. You need to have a plan.

4. How do I stay there? Education, motivation, and commitment are crucial for the long-term maintenance of weight loss.

Tips for successful goals:

  • Take some time to think about your goal and create a plan based on your personal desires derived on a positive outcome.
  • Write down your goal and document your progress.
  • Give the goal positive meaning. Negative = “I want to lose 10 pounds.” Positive “I will wear a size 6 dress for New Year’s Eve 2013.”
  • Remove all negative influences. We must warn you of the nay-sayers who will question your desires and wishes for a number of reasons. Keep in mind most people feel guilty for not having your commitment to health and/or fitness. They feel it is easier to hold you down rather than rise to your standards.
  • Concentrate on the systems and processes necessary to achieve the goal…and not on the end outcome. What does this mean? If your goal is to lose weight, instead of focusing on that weight loss, focus on attending boot camp 3 times a week. Each week that you’ve attended 3, take pride in knowing that you are one step closer to your dream.
  • Take small steps. Pick one part of your plan, get it done and recognize the successes of that one piece and then move on to the next.
  • Focus on the positive things that are happening.
  • Make your goals progressive. Find a way to be rewarded as you go. Do you think a marathon runner counts each mile on her way to the finish line? Absolutely! Celebrate each and every milestone you reach.
  • Tell others about your goal. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers what your goal is and ask for their support in your efforts.
  • Find the beast within. You need to really want to get amazing results and be prepared to do whatever we ask to achieve those results. It’s not that hard to get the results — it’s building that overwhelming desire that counts.
  • Adjust from hurt to help. Replace: ‘Well – this cake won’t hurt me will it? with, ‘Will this help me or not? Is this a positive step or not?’ Once you get that — you’re a hit.

Once you understand that everything you do each day takes you either closer to or farther from your goals, then and only then will you be on the fast track to success.

Women can do pullups too! – GOAL 3

I am sad to say that my third goal is a carry-over goal. It is becoming an annual goal, I suppose? I first set this goal for 2010. Then 2011. I skipped 2012 and now it returns for 2013. If I didn’t know in my heart that I haven’t achieved it because I haven’t been putting good-faith efforts towards it, I would have to reassess whether it is a good goal. It IS a good goal. In fact, it is a GREAT goal. It’s been said that only 1-3% of women can perform one pullup…

GOAL 3 – 10 STRICT Pullups


I will be able to complete 10 strict pullups, consecutively. No break – with the exception of perhaps regripping. Absolutely no kipping. No assistance. At my peak, I achieved 7. Last I attempted, I managed 3.

This year I WILL achieve this goal. And I have set myself up for success by implementing a routine prescribed by a good friend and exercise physiologist – specific to my pullup goal. Sure, I could have designed a plan myself, but I like being told what to do…plus this adds some accountability as I know he will be checking in on me!

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. – Hebrews 12:11-12

6-pack abs? GOAL 2

I want a flat, washboard stomach. I want my physique to be a clear reflection of my core strength. I have to admit, I am most insecure about my torso. I am not quite sure where the origins of this insecurity rest. To be quite honest, I have an amazingly well-trained core – but my physical body doesn’t necessarily show it.  It took me a long time to recognize my core strength because I cannot SEE it in the mirror. Let’s do planks or sit-ups or side planks…I’ve mastered these feats. While there are of course limits to my physical abilities, it seems I completely disregard all that I CAN do because I don’t have those 6-pack abs. Am I obsessed? No. Do I beat myself up over it? No. But I’m not yet satisfied. Is this another case of something that will never seem good enough for me? Maybe…

Goal 2 – To do THIS:

crunchThe crunch, supporting myself on a heavy bag with my legs. I have done something similar in the past. To be more specific: to do TEN crunches off the heavy bag.

Ever feel like your standing on your head? GOAL 1

I’m setting goals for 2013. Not resolutions. GOALS. Physical achievements that will require work and practice to achieve. I have been struggling with setting goals based on vanity, but I know from personal experience that improved physical appearance is a byproduct and that if I set appropriate achievement goals, the physical appearance will follow.

GOAL 1 – Handstands & Headstands

powerful I will independently – without assistance of a wall or another individual – complete both handstands and headstands. The caveat to this is that I will also be able to maintain control throughout a dismount, not allowing my feet to simply fall to the ground. The eccentric control is the true measurement of strength and perseverance.

I don’t know why, but in recent months I having been wishing that I had been a gymnast. This then-chubby girl didn’t have much interest in that kind of thing! But it is never too late, right?

I have a scar on my left knee from attempted to obtain this view a few years back. I have been able to complete handstand pushups with the assistance of a wall for years, but I have never had the courage to step away from that wall – until recently. Just as in life, sometimes we need assistance, tools, props, or friends to help us get started. But we can rely on those forever or they will get worn out or tired. So little by little, we step away and build up the strength and confidence to do it on our own. And tell me, how GREAT does that feel?

There is something to be said about viewing life from an inverted position…blood rushing to the head…learning to breathe through the pressure…it’s a powerful experience!