The New Year is quickly approaching, so I thought it would be a great time to discuss setting fitness goals. I have seen my fair share of people set New Year’s resolutions with good intentions of following them through. After a few weeks pass, these same people end up losing focus and defeatedly say “I’ll try again next year.” There are a variety of reasons why these goals do not get accomplished, but it almost always comes down to poor planning. Here are a few of my tips to help you set fitness goals that you will actually accomplish.
FOCUS ON ONE GOAL
I ask my clients to set only one goal when I first start working with them. Often they want to list multiple goals usually consisting of losing weight, growing their glutes, and toning their arms. It’s great to have a variety of goals; however, I always suggest picking one goal and focusing your energy on that. Trying to tackle everything at once is just setting yourself up for failure. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel anxious when you realize you can’t actually do everything at once. Pick one goal and put your energy into accomplishing that. My current goal is to grow more muscle, so I’m focussing on fuelling my body with the required nutrients and following a progressive overload program in the gym. I am NOT doing copious amounts of cardio and eating in a deficit to “stay lean.”
SET GOALS FOR YOU
Before you set fitness goals, ask yourself “why do you want this?” Setting goals is quite personal, should only involve YOUR desires, and shouldn’t be solely based off of someone else. Yes it’s great to have role models to look up to, but if your goals are only to be like someone else, you won’t love the process. Your goals should be your own, not someone else’s. Ask yourself what you truly want. Do you want to grow more muscle, get leaner, become stronger, increase endurance etc. When you picture your best self in the future, what do you see? Pick a goal that makes you excited to work towards. Focus on you.
SET SMART GOALS
Here is a guideline that I use to set SMART goals. You can and should use this guideline to plan any goal. I will use my strength goal to squat 225lbs as an example.
- SPECIFIC – Is this goal specific? Yes. My goal is to squat 225lbs within 6 months.
- MEASURABLE – Can you measure this goal? Yes. 225lbs is 225lbs.
- ATTAINABLE – Is this goal possible? Yes. I have a progressive program to follow.
- RELEVANT – Is this relevant to your life? Yes. I want to challenge my athletic abilities and continuously grow stronger.
- TIMELY – Is there a deadline? Yes. My goal is to squat 225lbs 6 months from now. 6 months is the deadline.
SHORT TERM GOALS
Short term goals are the smaller goals or milestones that will keep you on track to tackle your big goal. I like to break large goals down into smaller goals so that I can feel more accomplished and motivated throughout my journey. Accomplishing small goals gives a sense of victory and helps build confidence. Setting a goal to lose 20lbs may seem really big and scary, but accomplishing a smaller goal of losing 5lbs doesn’t seem so bad.
Say you have a goal to lose 20lbs. Instead of feeling overwhelmed about how big of a task losing 20lbs seems, set smaller goals to focus on. Give yourself a goal to lose 2lbs every two weeks. Losing 20lbs is a lot easier said than done, but writing down all the steps with deadlines will help keep you on track if progression slows and you need motivation.
MAKE IT VISIBLE
I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly satisfying to be able to visually see progress. I use a small whiteboard and write my main goal at the very top in large letters. Underneath I write down all of my mini goals with their deadlines, so that I can check them off as I complete them. If you are ever feeling as though you aren’t going to achieve you goal, just look at your whiteboard to see how far you’ve already come. You can also record your mini goals in excel, in a planner etc., but I find having a whiteboard somewhere I will see it everyday (like my bathroom) works best for me.
If you are serious about achieving your fitness goals, you may want to consider investing in professional help. Having a professional guide you will not only ensure you’re on the right path, but they will also reduce stress and self doubt. Investing in a personal trainer will keep you safe, keep you accountable, provide motivation, and ensure you’re doing the right exercises for your specific goals. If you struggle with diet, you should consider working with a dietician or nutritionist to ensure you’re consuming food that is right for you.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS
I recommend telling your close friends, family, and co-workers about your fitness goals. This way they are aware of your goals and won’t accidentally encourage behaviour that does not benefit your goal. Yes I’m talking about being invited to Sunday brunch consisting of mimosa’s and endless hashbrowns. If your friends know you’re trying to lose weight, they will hopefully be more mindful of asking you to events centered around unhealthy food. You may even inspire a friend to set their own fitness goals, and now you have a workout buddy! Your loved ones should care about your goals and support you, not sabotage your success.