The weekly check in
Reaching a goal takes diligence, patience and organization. When coming up with a long term goal it is important to map out the journey to get there. Once you are on said journey, have strategies in place to stay accountable and make sure things are going properly.
The most straight forward strategy I implement is the weekly check in. The weekly check in is a five minute, honest reflection on how my week went relative to my journey and goals.
Each week, I ask myself a set of questions and try to answer as honestly as possible. The answers I give to these questions help me stay accountable and figure out if I need to adjust my training plan to be better aligned with my goals.
The weekly questions
Here are typical questions I’ll try to answer as honestly as possible each week:
- Did I feel great last week?
- Did I increase my performance on at least one of my main lifts?
- Did I increase my training load even a little bit?
- Does my body look the way I want it to look?
The list is short because I keep things simple.
If I answer yes to all of these questions, I will continue my training normally in the following week.
If I answer no to one question or more, then I know I have to change up my training plan.
The first question is about my physical and mental health. This is the most important aspect of a training plan. I train to smash my goals and the journey should make feel excited.
If I find that I am training too much, it takes over my life and I stop feeling happy. Question one really helps me draw the line in my fitness and life balance.
Questions two and three help me monitor my progress in the gym. I know that if can progress even 1% each week, I will get closer to my goal.
Remember that slow progress is ok. The weekly check ins help distinguish between slow progress and no progress.
The fourth question helps me monitor how strict I need to be with my food. If I am happy with the way I look, then I can be more flexible with my diet. If I see that I my size does not change, I try to eat more or less next week depending on whether I am trying to gain or lose weight.
You will create questions that are most relevant to your goals. Keep the list short.
When you do your weekly check in, go through question one, if the answer is positive, move on to question two. If the answer is negative, this is what you need to adjust. Don’t bother going down to question two.
How to adjust your training
If you training needs adjusting, the most important thing is to pick one thing, and one thing only, to adjust for the following week.
Picking more than one thing will make it a lot harder to implement, lead to frustration, and eventually to “falling off the wagon”.
Picking one thing will also show you if that was the right thing to adjust or not. There’s a lot of trial and error in our fitness journey and being smart about it will help you be as efficient as possible.
Here’s what I do when I answer no to some questions.
The first, and most important thing I’ll figure out is if I got enough sleep. Lack of sleep impacts questions one, two, three and four.
Saying “Oh I need more sleep” is not an appropriate response though. It's a little more complicated than that.
I always think about what part of my night time routine can be adjusted. Do I need to get home earlier from work? Do I need to stop watching my favourite show at night? Do I need to eat different dinners?
Getting better sleep can be complicated. Sometimes we need to make big lifestyle changes to make that happen, and it’s very important to know when we need to make these changes.
Sometimes we fall in the trap of saying “I’ll grind now and sleep later” or “I don’t have enough time to sleep”. I have said these things to myself many, many times before. I completely understand that sometimes, we have no choice. It is in these instances that we have to do everything we can to get to a point where we get better sleep.
Remember that sleep is one of the most important aspect of your training plan.
Now say I got great sleep last week, but did not improve any of my training. Adjusting this is a little easier, maybe I just have to suck it up and work harder. Or maybe I need to add a training session in.
Adjusting your training can be as simple as adding 30 seconds to your rest periods during your workout. Or adding an 2-3 sets in your workout.
When I train for triathlons, the easiest way to adjust my training is to add 500 meters to my runs, or a couple extra kilometres on my cycling workouts.
Always strive to make very simple and easy changes.
After you have made the changes, on your sleep or on your training, you will do the weekly check in again and see if what you changed helped (you answer yes to all questions) or if you need to change something else (you answer no to at least on question).
Body image goal
Your body takes time to change. I recommend doing a body image check in every other week instead of every week. This will give your body time to adapt to your training and nutrition.
Your training will influence how you look on the long term. Nutrition is what changes your body on the short term.
Like your training adjustments, your nutrition changes must be very simple and easy to follow.
If i am trying to gain weight and notice that it is not happening, all I do is drink and extra smoothie during the day. That’s it!
The added smoothie will be very simple to make, usually a banana, frozen berries with peanut butter and protein powder. Then two weeks later I’ll check in again and see if I need to eat even more, or if I have in fact put on more weight.
When I am trying to lose weight, I will try to take away a simple portion of food. The easiest thing I do is cut my dinner in half. It’s not too much food that I go hungry and it’s easy to remember.
It’s hard to know exactly how much to train, how much to eat, how to get a good night’s sleep and so on. The weekly check in will help you find your balance in all of this.
To create your weekly check in:
-Pick a long term goal
- Find out what your short term goals in order to achieve it
-Pick questions that a relevant to your goals
-Make easy adjustments