Set Your Goals Backward

by Sadie Chanlett-Avery 4

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.

Sadie Chanlett-Avery is a yoga instructor and holistic fitness trainer who grew up barefoot on a farm in West Virginia. As a chubby kid she felt awkward on the co-ed soccer team and clunky in dance classes. By adolescence she gave up on organized sports and became increasingly sedentary... more »