A couple of conversations with clients this week came back to the issue of getting fit vs getting in shape vs getting healthy. The reality is most people struggle with all three areas yet each time they do embark on health & fitness drive, they charge after all of these goals at the same time. 

My experience has been that almost everyone can achieve one of the three if they focus on it, yet few can do two or more goals at the same time. This is an issue of mental focus over a more physical or logistical issue. This is because success will come back to your self-negotiations around the edges of indecision/cravings. When you have more than two goals of equal priority there is just no room for compromise. 

For example, if your main goal is fat loss then you may have a great day but to get through to bed and still hit your targets you decide to have some chocolate in the evening. If equally focused on health then those goals would say NO to the chocolate. It is common for people to find it quite easy to stick to a healthy eating plan when eating enough calories but really struggle when under eating during a fat loss phase. Perhaps, the only way to get yourself to do a fitness session every day this week is if you are to go out Saturday night for drinks and dinner. Again, if you are 100% in on your health goals it would stop this self-negotiation. 

This is the problem of going in on multiple goals at the same time, there are too many rules and not enough freedom for you to stick to it when not feeling 100% motivated. If you want to achieve all goals equally I would suggest you focus on your fat loss goals first as they are the hardest. The good thing about a body composition goal is that there is a distinct end point, e.g. when you get into your goal clothes size, or hit your target weight etc. Fitness and health behaviours are on a gradient, you can always do more and you can always focus on getting to a higher level than you are currently.   

The great thing about focusing on any one particular goal is that you will be almost guaranteed to make progress on the other goals at the same time. Though trying to get in shape you will reduce food intake which will automatically reduce how much bad food you are eating. If you go on a health drive and eat more vegetables then you will most likely consume less food and lose some body fat. The more fitness you do the better it is for health and it will probably aid fat loss unless you greatly increase your eating. 

What Does This Mean For You? 

Too many people miss the point I am making on this subject. The devil is in the details. Success comes about from many small, in the moment self-negotiations. A committed focus on 2 or 3 of the main health & fitness goals at the same time will restrict your ability to stick to your plans and more often than not prevent you making much progress on any of the goals. 

With just a little change of perspective and a bit more patience you can achieve all of your goals. It may happen over a slightly longer time period, it is infinitely quicker than never getting there at all. 

Photo – Some pictures from body composition vs fitness vs health goals.

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