It’s the first of January as I’m writing this, Happy New Year! I LOVE taking some time at the beginning of each year to reflect on the year that was and to make plans and set goals for the year to come.

Reflections on 2018

2018 was a mixed bag of a year for me. It was the year that I started taking my training seriously, and saw some serious results. I can honestly say that I am extremely proud of the progress I have made. I feel strong, fit, and generally happy in my own skin. The flip side of this year of intense training is that I spent the better part of 2018 rehabbing various injuries, from training too hard, too soon. While incredibly frustrating, this led to some valuable lessons in both humility and the value of high-quality movements and good technique in training.

In 2018, I brought my bodyweight down from 83kg to 71kg. My estimated body fat percentage has gone from 36% to 26%. While I have lost ~600g of muscle over the course of the year, my strength has increased through the roof, and my percentage of lean body mass has changed from ~61% to ~72%. These are all changes I am incredibly happy with, that I have earned slowly, over time. I feel confident that the changes are sustainable and my lifestyle can support continued positive change.

2018 was also the year that I decided to requalify as a Certified Personal Trainer, after being out of the fitness industry for some 16 years. Returning to study has been an interesting challenge and a welcome distraction from the homesickness that inevitably comes from the expat life. I’m also surprised at how much information my brain has retained from the first time I studied fitness, some 21 years ago.

Fitness, Health and Pole Goals for 2019

I have a lot of goals that I would like to focus on in 2019, across a number of areas of my life. In the interest of accountability, I’m posting my fitness, health and pole goals here. I’d like to check back in at the end of the year and review how these goals progressed.

Nutrition goal for 2019

I plan to start a moderate cut (eating at a small caloric deficit in the interest of losing body fat) on the 7th of January (because my children are back at school). I’ll stik with this until the 11th of February (when I fly to sunnier climes for a 3-week holiday). My goal is to achieve an estimated body fat percentage of 22% in this time. This is a stretch goal and would require that I lose at least 2.85 kgs of fat in 5 weeks while maintaining muscle mass.

Why 22%? Well, the recommended body fat range for most female performance athletes (depending on their sport, obvs.) is between 18-22%. I’d like to see how my body looks, performs and feels at this level of body fat. Doing this just before a beach holiday just seems like good timing.

How I’ll do it:

I’ll be working to achieve this goal using tried and true dietary techniques that I KNOW work well for me. Some of the tools I use when I’m looking to lose body fat are:

  • 16:8 Intermittent Fasting. This means that I have my first meal for the day at midday, and I finish eating for the day at 8 pm. It allows me to eat larger meals while maintaining a caloric deficit.
  • Tracking calories. I find that 1800 calories per day is enough of a deficit for me to see results, without losing muscle mass. I’ll start here, and monitor my body composition closely to make sure it’s working. If I don’t start to see results fairly quickly (within the first week), I may adjust to 1700 or an absolute minimum of 1600 calories per day. I’ll track this in the My Fitness Pal app.
  • Tracking macros. I definitely feel better when my macros are in balance. I’ve experimented with different macros splits to find what works best for me. Personally, I like to eat at around 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. I’ll track this in the My Fitness Pal app.
  • Eating food that I have prepared myself, with a heavy focus on fruits, vegetables and lean animal proteins. I try and avoid heavily processed, multi-ingredient products most of the time, but particularly when I am looking to lose body fat.

Once I return from my holiday, I’ll resume my regular eating pattern, which is to eat at around my maintenance calories (currently around 2200 calories per day) in the aforementioned macro split. Eating this way has kept my weight fairly stagnant, but has allowed my body composition to change for the better while continuing to gain strength. I anticipate eating this way for most of the rest of the year.

Strength goals for 2019

My strength goals for 2019 are based on the core powerlifting lifts. These goals are a big jump from my current strength level. While I believe them to be achievable, I also recognise that these are longer-term goals, so I’ll be delighted if I achieve them before the end of the year.

  1. 5 strict pull-ups. I can currently do 1 pull-up if the planets align and I’m having a “light gravity” day. With consistent training, I am confident that I can get to 5 strict pullups (no kipping, each rep performed from a dead hang) by the end of the year.
  2. Bench Press my own bodyweight. My current estimated 1RM for Bench Press is 50kg. I would like my 1RM to be equal to my body weight, which means adding another 20kg to the bar.
  3. Squat 150% of my body weight. The squat is currently my weakest lift by far. My current estimated 1RM for squats is 60kg (because I always skip leg day… oops!). This means adding another 45 kgs to the bar. I need to make 2019 the year that squats become my favourite lift (I kinda hate them at the moment).
  4. Deadlift 250% of my body weight. I LOVE deadlifts, so much so that I (unwisely) train them far more frequently than I should. I need to revise my current program because I KNOW that I’m overtaxing my nervous system. Anyway, this year I would like to increase my deadlift from my current 106kg 1RM to around 175-180kg.

These are all stretch goals and are considered to be advanced numbers, so only time will tell if they’re realistic.

Flexibility goals for 2019

I don’t have a huge number of flexibility goals for 2019. Of course, I’d love to be a twisty little pretzel, but realistically, keeping this list short will mean that I’m more likely to follow through with my training.

  1. Ankle mobility. This year, the most important flexibility goal I can set for myself is probably the most boring. I have comparatively poor ankle mobility for dorsiflexion (the opposite of pointing your toes). I believe this is the main cause of my squat problems. So I’ll be working to increase my calf flexibility throughout 2019.
  2. Front splits when cold/oversplits when warm. I have a consistent front split on both sides when I’m warm. When I’m cold, I’m about an inch or two off the floor. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch (geddit? See what I did there?) to say that in 2019 I’ll be able to comfortably front split without warming up.
  3. Box Splits. I positively HATE stretching for my box splits. I find it very painful, and sometimes feel quite panicky while applying any sort of pressure to get my hips to open up. I’d LOVE to have a nice flat box split, and I’m listing it here as a goal, but I’m not even CLOSE to achieving this. I’ll be happy at the end of the year if there’s any visible improvement.

Pole goals for 2019

I found it really hard to set my pole goals for 2019. I have no plans to compete at any point in the near future, and I’m finding that the mental picture I have of myself as a pole dancer is very different to the actual skillset I possess on the pole. I’m reasonably strong and generally succeed at strength-based tricks, but when it comes to the pretty, flowy stuff, I kind of suck.

 

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Sometimes it’s worthwhile taking a step back from your goals if you’re not making progress. Ayesha was a goal move for me for a long time, and I’ve spent a lot of time this year working hard to try and achieve it. I could sometimes hold it and sometimes not, but it was a matter of luck, always with a spotter, and I could never hold it for more than a second or two. At the end of September, I became so frustrated that I stopped training this move altogether. Today, it came up again in class. I tried it, spotted by a friend, and got there. I felt good, so I tried again. And again. By the end of the class, I was able to get there confidently by myself, and hold it for an indeterminate period of time, feeling strong and stable. I think, by taking a break from training, I was able to get out of my head, and approach it with fresh eyes. So if you feel like you’re butting your head against a brick wall with a specific move, try taking a break, focussing on other things, and revisiting it when you’re refreshed and ready.

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So, in an effort to balance out my strengths and weaknesses, I’m hoping to:

  • Cup-grip Ayesha. I am not far off this at the moment. In fact, I can hold it for a few seconds, but I’m not confident to even try it without a spotter. Once I get this solidly, I’ll try to work on my…
  • Handspring. I haven’t trained handspring properly yet. I’m confident that with a solid practice session I could get it in twisted grip, but after the last year of shoulder injuries and rehab, I’m not prepared to take the risk.
  • Half-Fonji. I don’t actually know if this is something that would even be taught at my current studio, but it’s something I would LOVE to try.
  • Flow (exotic or otherwise). I am so terrible at any sort of flow on or around the pole. It’s not really possible for me to attend the flow/dance classes at my studio at the moment, but my new pole arrives in a few weeks. I plan to block out a little time each week to work on developing my own style and improving my flow on the pole.

Skills goals for 2019

Education goals for 2019

In 2018 I began studying for the NASM CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) qualification. I have my theory exam in 10 days, and my practical exam in 5 weeks. Presuming I pass both exams, by mid-February, I’ll be a Level 4 qualified Personal Trainer. While this certification will allow me to begin working in the fitness industry, it’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the knowledge I want to acquire in order to specialise.

In the first half of 2019, I want to do at least 2 further specialised training courses. These will be:

  • NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist – a specialisation that will deepen my knowledge of postural distortions and imbalances, and hopefully allow me to work with injury rehabilitation clients.
  • Xpert Pole Fitness L1+L2 – a highly recognised pole instructor training course. This is not necessarily to TEACH pole (I don’t think I’m good enough for that). Rather, it’s to build a strong base of knowledge so that I can work WITH pole dancers who have sustained injuries or recognise the need for cross-training in injury prevention.

Depending on time and finances, I would like to continue my training through the second half of 2019 with:

  • Xpert Pole Fitness L3+L4. Again, to further my knowledge and specialisation in the sport of Pole.
  • Starting a Pilates Instructor training course. I’m not fully committed to pursuing this specialisation, however, I do enjoy Pilates, and I believe that the Pilates method can be incredibly useful when prioritising the quality of movement.

I know, that’s an absolutely MONSTER list of goals, it’ll be great fun to come back and reflect on them at the end of 2019! I’m hoping to make some great headway in achieving them. Do you set goals for the year ahead? If so, I’d love you to share them with me 🙂