Being clear about what you want to achieve, and why, is an essential first step in any effective plan of change. Unfortunately, it’s one that is often
Being clear about what you want to achieve, and why, is an essential first step in any effective plan of change. Unfortunately, it’s one that is often overlooked or dismissed. Remember, that gaining weight and muscle isn’t just about what to eat and how to train, it’s also about getting yourself to apply what you know consistently.
Self-discipline and will power will only take you so far. In order to overcome any potential pitfalls, temptations and ingrained bad habits, you need a clear goal to keep you focused and a powerful set of reasons to keep you on track.
Before you can set a suitable goal, it’s important to know what is realistic and achievable. A realistic weight gain is 1-2lbs per week with a proportion of that inevitably coming from fat.
You probably already know that weight can be gained quite quickly by gorging on high-calorie, high-fat fast foods. However, as you’ll discover later you want to limit the amount of fat you gain in favour of muscle and you also probably want to improve or maintain your overall health.
One of the best ways to create your overall goal is to use the acronym SMART. Goals that are SMART are:
General goals such as “I want to gain some weight” are less effective and motivating than “I will gain lean muscle, reduce my level of body fat and improve my energy levels”. It’s a good idea to make part of your goal about successfully following your plan.
You should be able to measure your goal. So rather than saying “I want to gain weight” a better goal is “I want to gain 7lbs of lean muscle”.
You want to find a balance between what is realistic and what is inspiring. A realistic gain in bodyweight is 1-2lbs per week. Assume that about half of this will be in the form of lean mass.
Your goal should be meaningful to you. It should be about you and rely only on you. If you feel happy at the weight you are for example, but would like to tone and re-shape your body, then create a goal around that. Your goal should not rely on other people or outside influences to be successful, for example “I will gain more weight than my mate John over the next 8 weeks”.
Give yourself a date by which time you will have achieved your goal. E.g. “I will gain 7lbs by February 28th”. A good time frame is 8 to 12 weeks as this is long enough to see measurable changes but no so long it becomes daunting.
You may have heard the phrase “diets don’t work, it has to be a way of life”. That’s true but many people interpret that to mean “start eating right today and maintain it for the rest of your life”. That can be pretty demoralising and with that mindset it’s very easy to give up at the first hurdle. You justify to yourself that you can’t keep things up indefinitely so you might as well quit now.
But compare this to someone who decides to train for a marathon. They have an end-goal in mind – the race date. If training gets tough one day or if they skip a session, they can muster the will power to carry on because they know it’s not forever. That’s why most people who make the decision to run a marathon usually achieve their goal despite it being so difficult.
So take it one step at a time. In other words, make a commitment to see your plan through to the end no matter what. Remind yourself that you have the right to quit after the end date but, just like a marathon runner, you want that sense of accomplishment to look back on for many years to come.
Only when you reach your goal, should you decide what to do next. And because by then the right food choices will be more habitual and because you will be experiencing first hand the satisfaction of changing your physique, you will be much more inclined and motivated to keep going. You can then set a new goal and then another and another, until suddenly you realise that it has become “a way of life”.