So you’ve decided that you want to take your health and fitness more seriously. That’s great! You head to the gym, stare out at the sea of treadmills, exercise bikes, and weight training machines and suddenly come to the realization that you have no idea how to go about obtaining “fitness”. It can be daunting for sure, but one surefire way to make the time spent at the gym worth it is to set realistic fitness goals for yourself, and learn how to go about achieving them.
The first thing that you should consider when setting a goal is your current level of fitness. If you consider yourself fairly active and healthy, you will be able to realistically set different goals as compared to someone who is just getting started or trying to get back into a healthy routine. Choosing the right type of goal will not only help you achieve the level of fitness that you’re looking for, but it will also help keep you motivated when you see consistent results from your workouts.
Decide what your ultimate goal is. Getting to the point where you can successfully complete a 5k is a great start if you ultimately want to run a marathon. If you have your ultimate goal in mind, completing short term goals will help to improve your confidence. Try to stay away from goals that are vague or extremely complicated to complete. As recommended by The American Council on Exercise, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals (SMART) can help you get started.
S – Let’s get specific. Just saying that you want to get healthier isn’t enough, and won’t motivate you every time you step into the gym. Setting a goal like, “I will lose 20lbs” is specific. Now, you have a set goal that is specific and measurable. This ties directly into the next goal.
M – Your goal should be measurable. Having an amount of weight you want to lose for example is important because it gives you a starting, and ending point. While you’re achieving this short term goal of losing 20lbs, you are contributing to your ultimate goal of becoming healthier every time you work toward it.
A – Attainability. Another important thing to consider when setting a goal is whether or not it is realistically attainable. Going from couch potato to world class sprinter is probably not an attainable goal. Being realistic with your expectations will not only help you stick with your fitness plan, but allow you to accurately assess your expectations going forward. After all, the goals you are setting now will most likely change as your continue to get stronger and more fit.
R – Relevant goals go hand in hand with the attainable ones. These are your goals and yours alone. Maybe you’re not interested in weight loss and just want to get stronger? You don’t need to conform to what other people tell you when it comes to your goals. If it’s not relevant to where you want to be going forward, reevaluate your goal and point yourself in the direction that works for you.
T – Time-Bound goals are another great way to help keep you on the right track. Having a starting, and ending point will keep you motivated and constantly striving to do better. Going back to our example of weight loss, setting a starting and ending date to achieve your goal is important.
In the event that you don’t quite achieve your goal, reevaluate what went wrong or what you could have done differently to improve. Setting the right fitness goals will ultimately make your time spent working out more fulfilling and fun. The world of health and fitness doesn’t need to be a source of anxiety or stress if you have the proper game plan. Stick to your short term goals, strive for SMART goals that will increase your motivation, and above all else have fun with your journey toward health and fitness!