Set Your Goals Backward

Set Your Goals BackwardYears ago when I worked at a women’s fitness center, I conducted intakes with new members. When asked about fitness goals virtually every women would grab, poke, and list their “flawed” parts. I’d hear, “I want to tone these flabby arms, lose 20 pounds, and get rid of my muffin top.”

It was heartbreaking to hear how easily women insulted themselves. We’re perpetually reminded to sculpt our “trouble zones,” or battle those same 10 pounds. Working out with these goals in mind, we rehearse our self-loathing.  Exercise becomes a means to an ends instead of inherently rewarding.

Instead of aiming for an ideal weight or even completing a race, let’s dig deeper into what those goals represent. If you lost the weight, would allow yourself to feel beautiful? If your blood pressure decreased would you feel vibrant? If you got those rockin’ abs would you feel accomplished?

Let’s first admit that we want to feel hot and powerful. (Ain’t nothing wrong with that.) Secondly, let’s recognize that we are not all going to achieve the current standard of a perfect body. If we wait for thin perfection we may find out that slender thighs are no guarantee of happiness. So why don’t we put the prepackaged ideals aside and move into our desired feelings?

Personally, I yearn to feel strong, beautiful, and charged with creativity. Yet my life is hectic these days. In addition to my “day job” teaching yoga classes and training clients, I’m finishing my book proposal, planning a retreat, blogging, and training for an advanced kettlebell certification.

When I could feel frazzled and lacking, a daily practice revives me. Swinging kettlebells realigns my will and resilience under heavy loads. On alternate days, I crank up my chic power music, dance, and yogify through handstands, standing poses, and backbends. This oasis peels off stress, dislodges my creativity, and refuels my enthusiasm to serve. I never end up looking like a fitness model yet I always finish more centered, calm, and capable. Right now I could easily get mired by insecurities or wonder if my goals are too far off to be attainable. Waiting for perfection will stall me out.

To figure out how and what to exercise, start by asking why. Why wait for results when you can feel beautiful, whole, and powerful right now? Exercise the alchemy of the moment.

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    Meet Laura, Athleta PR & Partnerships Manager

    Laura doesn’t just work at Athleta, she lives and breathes the mission as a PR and Partnerships Manager and instructor at our in-office Fit Studio. She says she loves everything about working at Athleta, especially that “the work that we do is so inspiring and purposeful, that after a long day, I walk out of…


June 21, 2013 at 8:46 am

I love this post Sadie, my sentiments exactly! When I finish my workout, I may not look like a fitness model, but man, do I feel like one. I wish more women would focus on how they feel on the inside vs. how they look on the outside, because, after all, when I’m 100 I certainly won’t be worried about rockin a swimsuit but I will be stoked about making it up two flights of stairs pain-free. You know, it’s just a little shift in our mindset… thanks for the re-affirmation!

Sadie Chanlett-Avery

June 21, 2013 at 10:15 am


Thank you so much for the thumbs up. Here’s a post very similar to your sentiments from my blog. I hope the bathroom setting doesn’t offend.



June 21, 2013 at 11:18 am


Yes, yes, yes! That’s it exactly… “wash my hands and head-out into a productive day.” You and I are on the same page sister, except that you got there a lot sooner than I did! Just perused your site and signed-up for the blog (can’t wait to read you on a regular basis). Italy sounds fabulous and I’ve put the trip on my wish list. Here’s to touching our toes at 95! ~ Janet

Amanda @runtothefinish

June 22, 2013 at 5:10 am

Yes exercise has certainly become one of the best ways I’ve found to really connect with myself and recognize how amazing my body is no matter the size. Luckily exercise has a way of changing the shape of your body too, so it’s a double whammy 🙂

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