Defining your goal is crucial to the success of any exercise and/or nutrition intervention. This is because it determines exactly what you should be focusing on. To use an obvious example: is your goal to look good, or perform well? Yes, there are large overlapping aspects of the program, but their prescriptions would fundamentally differ. Also, do you want to look good once (ie at a wedding, or this summer), or are you looking at the long term? Again, I would approach both scenarios very differently.
Once the goal is decided, spend a good amount of time focusing on your particular strengths & weaknesses. For example:
- If you want to lose weight: When do you eat well, and when badly?
- If you want to play better golf: What is the best/worst part of your game?
- If you want to become a better basketball player: What aspects of your game lets you down, and what do you always do well?
The biggest bang for your buck is often eliminating weaknesses (even though most athletes enjoy practicing what they are good at more).
Failing you having an easily identifiable strength or weakness, then put your time into what gives you the biggest bang for your buck for your specific goal. For example:
- For someone wanting to lose weight this is undoubtedly what you eat.
- For an athlete of a sport in which body composition is not important (Snooker, Golf etc): undoubtedly, practicing the skills of the sport.
- For an Ironman, spend some time on the bike.
Once you have identified what you need to focus on then you need to break the skills of the sport and/or your eating patterns down a little more. For example:
- If you are like me then most of your bad eating is post dinner – this therefore is where you need to focus your energy. For others it may be lunch time at work, or skipping breakfast.
- If you play golf then focus on your short game as this is where the most shots are played per round (40% of strokes per round are putts for most golfers).
- And if you are a fighter, don’t worry too much about your dancing around the ring.