With the holidays upon us, and summer approaching faster than we ever think it will, it is a perfect time to rededicate ourselves to our fitness pursuits. The first step to any exercise program should be to set goals. Otherwise, how does one know if they are moving in the right direction or not?
So, how do you set and keep goals?
- Make them realistic. This will eliminate getting discouraged and giving up. Don’t expect to lose 20 pounds in a month or be able to do 20 pull-ups. Instead, shoot for losing 1-2 pounds a week or 4-8 pounds a month. Studies show this gradual weight loss is healthier, more likely to be permanent, and is weight lost from fat, not muscle.
- Set short-term and long-term goals. Set goals for 3 months, 6 months, and a year. The short-term goals should be leading you to succeeding in your long-term goals. For example…short-term; run around the block –long-term; run a 10k.
- Write them down. Not only that, but leave them somewhere you will see them. Often. Take a picture of what you want if it helps you visualize the end goal. You have to see it in your mind, and believe that you can do it to succeed.
- Make sure they are specific. Saying, “I want to workout more” is not a goal. Saying, “I will workout 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes/day and when I accomplish that goal I will reward myself with a night out at my favorite restaurant” is a goal.
- They must be measurable. In the above example, the number of days per week and the time spent exercising are our measurables. By either completing or not completing the prescribed days and time, it is very easy to tell if the goal is on track or not.
- Get an accountability partner. Whether it is a spouse, a friend, or an exercise buddy, tell someone (as many people as possible, really) what your goals are, and ask them to keep you on track. Having this cheering squad in your corner can be just the push you need when you feel like giving up.
- Don’t get discouraged. If for some reason you do not hit your goal exactly when you want to, do not let it get you down. Instead, think of all the progress you have made so far, and redouble your efforts to reach that goal. It’s when you hit the plateaus and hard times that will make or break your efforts to achieve your goals. Don’t shy away from it, be a warrior, dig in your heels, and fight to succeed. This is also a good time to lean on your accountability partner, remember they are there to cheer you on.
30 Days. Studies consistently show that it takes about 30 days to change a behavior. Stay diligent, if you stumble along the way know that it internally things are happening. Set those goals and crush them. YOU GOT THIS!