Too often, people will set a weight loss goal, work towards it for a few days or a few weeks, and then give up when they don’t see the results they’d like. It’s no wonder: goal-setting in general is just plain tricky. Fortunately, there are a few characteristics of achievable goals that you can take advantage of when setting your own.
I like the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting method. It’s not exclusive to fitness, but works really well in this area. S.M.A.R.T. goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Here’s how each aspect applies to fitness-related goals:
Pinpoint exactly what you want–be specific! Determine what you want and how you’re going to get there.
To give an example of how this looks in action, a goal like, “lose 15 pounds and be able to do 100 pushups by the time I leave for vacation in June,” is much more specific than a goal like, “get skinny and fit.” The goal answers three questions: what, why, and (at least partially) how.
This is where fitness-related goal-setting is pretty simple, thanks to all the numbers we have to work with. The prior example fits in here as well. How do you measure, “get skinny and fit?” You can’t! There’s no way of clearly defining whether you’ve met your goal or not.
“Lose 15 pounds and be able to do 100 pushups by the time I leave for vacation in June” is extremely measurable. In June, as long as you are 15 pounds lighter and able to do 100 pushups, there is no question that you have met your goal. There is no gray area.
Another reason measurable goals are helpful is that you’re able to check in with your progress and make sure that you’re on track. If you’re two months in with one month to go and you’ve lost 10 of the 15 pounds so far, you know you are well on your way to achieving your goal.
Your goals must be attainable if you want to reach them. For example, losing 50 pounds in a week just isn’t attainable–at least not by using healthy weight loss methods. Read every last one of the Schwinn elliptical reviews online and you’ll see that no amount of exercise can get you those results. Set a goal that’s attainable, like losing 2 pounds a week until you’ve lost all 50.
Similarly, set goals that are realistic. Instead of saying, “I will never eat sugar again,” aim to eat a piece of fruit when you crave sweets. At face value, you might think “attainable” and “realistic” are basically the same thing. They are definitely similar, but keeping your goals realistic focuses on how you achieve them, while attainability is more about the end result.
Include a time limit when setting a fitness goal. Without a time frame to work with, your goal is too vague and procrastination is just too easy. My favorite way to set timely goals is to define a long-term goal and break it up into milestones. For instance, if I wanted to achieve that first goal of being able to do 100 pushups by June, I would add 10 pushups to my routine at regular intervals until I was there.
Pretty much everyone sets goals, but keeping these things in mind as you set your own will help you stand ahead of the crowd by actually achieving what you set out to do. These goal-setting guidelines are helpful for all different kinds of goals as well as the ones you set for health and fitness. Try implementing these S.M.A.R.T. tips and see how quickly you can reach your goals!
This is a guest post by Tracy Martin, a natural health and fitness enthusiast. As a writer and total health geek, she loves reading anything fitness-related she can get her hands on, whether it’s Yowza elliptical reviews or the latest news in nutrition. She loves yoga and dance and also stays fit by eating healthy, hiking with her husband, and chasing her two little boys around.
Photo by Oregon State University