Post Natal Goal Setting For Performance And Aesthetics
Having just gone through the life-altering experience of giving birth to a human being, post-natal fitness goal-setting (in addition to the time needed to hit them), may seem like a hassle and depending on where you’re at in your post-natal journey and how your experience is panning out, setting fitness goals may not be top of your priority list. However, if you have something specific you want to achieve, diving into what that goal really looks like could help you get there more efficiently without setting you up for disappointment (not what you need right now).
SMART (aka Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely) goal setting is the way forwards. I first learned about SMART goals in GCSE PE, and 30 years on it is now super relevant when setting goals for myself and my clients. I recently set my own goals and spent a bit of time considering goal setting from the point of a new mum, so below are a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure you know what you actually want to achieve before you aimlessly wander into the gym. Efficiency is key.
Get Specific with your goal – Do you want to ‘lose weight’ or
‘lose 5kg of body fat’? It pays to have an end goal in mind so you know exactly what you’re aiming for and can break it down along the way. The clearer the goal, the higher the success rate.
Make it Measurable – Having a method of measuring progress (i.e. weight, measurements, photos, time) will keep you motivated and help you understand what works (or not) for your body. Choose a method that works, be consistent, and keep a record.
Make it Attainable – Yes, it’d be fab to get abs 12 weeks post-birth but, if you’ve put on a ton of weight, have limited training time, are sleep deprived, and suffering from hormonal fluctuations it may not be too realistic. It’s unlikely your fitness goal is the most important thing in your life, so be realistic with what is achievable and what you can (and are willing) to give in terms of time and energy at this point in your life. Be realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself if you need more time.
Get Relevant – Attaching a ‘why’ to your goal makes the whole process way more meaningful and helps motivation if things get tough. Aligning your goal with a holiday, special event or sporting event will give you something to aim for in a real-life scenario.
Make it Timely – A set time-frame to complete your goal will keep you motivated. No one wants to be dieting forever, give yourself a deadline so that the end (however distant) is in sight.Make it
Setting goals that fit the above criteria should mean that when you do set foot in the gym (or home gym) you do at least have a decent idea about what you're doing there.
My Own Goals
Research suggests you’re more likely to hit your goals if you write them down so here are my own short and long-term goals (with an added level of social media accountability).
Performance-wise, my ultimate goal is to run the London Marathon in 2022 (on behalf of The National Deaf Children's Society) ideally completing it in under four hours and not dieing in the process. Given that a) it’s my first (potentially only) marathon, and b) I haven’t run (even for a bus) since May last year, there’s a fair amount of work to do. Hopefully not impossible though given that I have a full year to prepare myself and won’t be starting a ‘marathon training’ plan until January.
I’ll be going through a few training phases before I start serious marathon training and am currently focusing on building up my strength post-baby with weight training and less intense cardio options (currently known as walking).
I plan to start running again three months’ post-partum (mid-May) so my short-term running goals are:
Run a sub 25 minute 5km by end of July.
Run a sub 50 minute 10km by end of September.
My main considerations when setting these goals are as follows –
I have no idea what my current fitness level is but am hoping these numbers aren’t too ambitious after a year off. I have stayed pretty fit throughout, just haven’t actually run for fitness so we’ll see.
I can no longer just go out for a run when I like (huge impact). 95% of my life now comes with a newborn attached, so it is unlikely I’ll be getting out for a run more than a couple of times a week. I’m totally fine with this but it will slow my progress.
There is room for negotiation and I’ll be reassessing these goals once I’ve actually started running again if they are way off where I’m at.
My body has changed, I’ve grown a human being and I’m fully aware it may never look the same again (and I’m ok with that). However, I am going to at least try and see how I look at my pre-pregnancy weight and this is my first goal.
I’m currently sitting around three kilos above my pre-preggo weight (although I’ll admit during the first lockdown I’d stopped weighing myself and both nutrition and booze consumption were somewhat off-balance, so I’m not entirely sure what that weight was). However, 57kg is where I comfortably sit most of the time, relatively lean but still able to fully enjoy life so I’m aiming for that.
A healthy and sustainable rate of fat loss for my body weight is about 0.6kg per week (one percent of total body weight). At this rate, I could lose three kg in around six weeks however, I also need to take into account both maintaining my milk supply (still breastfeeding) and the fact that I want to be able to enjoy myself. Lockdown is ending, pubs and restaurants are opening and as life opens up I’m happy to not be quite so restrictive and for it to take a little longer to reach my goal.
I don’t plan to start tracking my food until three months post-partum but have been following the rules set out in my previous post 'How To Avoid That Post Natal Diet' so the aim is to start tracking in a month and then aim to lose three kilograms in eight weeks which gives me a bit of flexibility. Coincidentally this is also just a few days before I (fingers crossed) jet off on a sunny holiday so I’ll be summer holiday ready (and praying the holiday actually goes ahead as planned).
So here we are, goals set for the next few months. Time to get it.