Have you ever trained really hard for a goal? Maybe it was some kind of race or event?
If you have, think back to your focus on this training. You had a goal and then you worked backward to build out all the things you needed to do in preparation for the goal.
For example, when I trained for my first half ironman, I knew the fixed date and that my goal was to finish in under six hours.
From there, I built out a daily training plan of when I would bike, run, swim, and rest/recover.
I had to optimize my nutrition to support all the work. Eating clean foods, changing my macros, eating more on high volume days.
I had to make lifestyle changes. These changes were things like sleeping more to improve recovery, choosing to stay home instead of going out so I could get up early and train on weekends.
I was maniacally focused on that one set goal.
Can you relate to this type of training?
What if we had this same training, intense focus, and determination to fixed aging goals?
I know playing the long game is hard, which is probably why 30-day resets are so popular.
It’s also hard to build long term focus when there is so much information about what the best thing is for your health and fitness NOW.
Are you floating through workouts, nutrition, and lifestyle habits without any long term goals or focus?
I’ve definitely been here.
But several years ago, tired of drifting from one health approach to the next, I decided to change my approach. I decided to play the long game.
I wrote down the vision I had for myself 10 years in the future. Then I worked backward to build a training plan to reach those goals in 10 years.
With an established health & wellness future vision and goals for myself, I have the motivation to apply that same training intensity and focus that I would apply when I train for a race or event.
I’ve adapted this “longevity based training” principle to our AWAKN Health coaching business.
Here are the steps I take with my clients to put a long term training plan in place.
You can easily apply these in your own life with an accountability partner.
Step 1: Future You
What does your life look like 10 years from now?
Find a quiet place and block off a few distraction-free hours. Write out how you envision yourself and your life on a day 10 years from now.
What are you working on? What is your health like? Where are you living? Be specific. Be true to what you really want.
Step 2: Goal Extraction
From the “future you” exercise, pull the thread through to develop specific goals that will get you to your vision.
For example, I envision myself doing epic backcountry hiking and camping trips when I’m 50. So if I want to have to ability to still do this when I’m 50 then I need to train and maintain my body for this. Therefore, my fitness routine will reflect this.
For you, it could be as simple as being able to play a competitive game of basketball with your kids.
Write your goals down.
Step 3: Build a habit plan
What’s it going to take to get to your goals?
Assess your current state of wellness, be completely honest with yourself. Then build-out a nutrition, lifestyle, and fitness plan specific to you and your long term goals.
Step 4: Habit adaptation and accountability
You’ve established your long term goals and built out the holistic plan needed to achieve those goals. Now you need to build your “habit foundation”.
Building good habits takes time and turning a plan into a habit takes work and a solid mindset.
I recommended taking at least 3 months building out your “habit foundation”.
Start with your nutrition, this should be your only focus for at least one month.
After your body has adjusted to its new nutrition foundation, start layering in lifestyle habits and focusing on sleep and mindset.
Once your nutrition and lifestyle house is in order layer in your fitness.
I recommend this layering approach to give your mind and body the ability to adapt to change without being overwhelmed and causing undue stress.
Additionally, I highly recommend getting an accountability partner through the 3-month phase.
This should be someone who you can check in with weekly to ensure you are sticking to your objectives.
You may even consider short daily check-ins. My clients have weekly 1:1 video check-ins with me. They also fill out a short form every day, similar to a journal. This is for accountability as well as learning and making adjustments.
Step 5: Maintenance
Once you’ve built your “habit foundation”, I recommend monthly maintenance at a minimum.
Check-in with yourself and your accountability partner. With your personal check-in you should take a couple of hours towards the end of the month, evaluate and write down how you felt and performed over the month. Are any adjustments needed for the next month?
Next, since your accountability partner is aware of all our goals, set up a time with them once per month, and let them objectively challenge you to ensure you are sticking to your plan. Let them be a sounding board for your struggles and successes.
Avoid these common pitfalls:
- Avoid watching or listening to others n=1 successes. We are all different so you should make your own path. Read Ralph Waldo Emersons “Self-Reliance” essay for inspiration on plotting your own path.
- If you participate in group fitness, let go of ego. Recognize you are on your own journey. Stick to YOUR plan.
- Avoid beating yourself up over setbacks or mistakes. You are now playing the long game so slipping up on your habits for a day isn’t going to derail your 10-year plan, you can just jump right back in the next day.
Playing the long game is much less sexy than any type of 30-day reset or 7-day cleanse. But it’s also much more rewarding and less stressful.
You’re developing a customized healthy lifestyle for yourself and removing the pressure of FOMO on the latest diet and fitness trends. You’re also freeing up mental capacity because you’ve developed a solid habit foundation. Now all you have to do is stick to the plan, set it and forget it.