The best time to re-commit to getting fit is now. And while you might be highly motivated to get in better shape today, you need a plan you can stick with so you don’t need motivation to keep you going. Motivation fades quickly, and is easily derailed by a bad night’s sleep, errands that take too long, work stress, and the chaos of everyday life.
When you’re creating a fitness plan, it needs to fit into your life and gradually increase in intensity. Starting VERY small is the most scientifically reliable to make a sustainable fitness habit. You’re going to learn how to create SMART goals that can help you stay healthier long-term.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Using these guidelines will help you create a personalized plan to get in your best shape. When you reach the goals you set, you can set new SMART goals to keep carrying you forward. So what do each of these things mean?
Lots of people start with a goal of saying they want to be healthier, but that’s pretty vague, and can mean a lot of things. What does being healthier mean for you? Be specific in what you’re aiming for, because you can’t create a map without knowing exactly where you want to go.
Some people might set an amount of weight they want to lose, while others might want to run a race at a certain speed or lift a certain amount in the gym. Maybe your goal is to feel more energetic, or to be able to play with your kids outside for longer. This is where you create your personal goal, without comparing yourself to anyone else. Your journey is your own, so pick a goal that is important to you.
This is where you start to make a map of your plan. Vague goals can’t be measured, but specific ones can. If you want to lose 20 pounds of fat, or gain 20 pounds of muscle, you can measure that pretty easily at home. You can also measure how fast you walk or run, or how much weight you can lift.
If your goal revolves around how you feel, take a few minutes each day to journal about how you feel each day, or create a tracker where you can rate how you feel. If you want to be more energetic, for example, you can make a daily tracker and rate from 1 to 10 how much energy you have that day, and list the things you think have impacted that for you.
Attainable goals are ones that, if you push yourself a reasonable amount, you can achieve without extreme effort. If you’ve been sitting at your desk for the last 3 years, it might not be the best idea to jump into a Spartan race next week, but you can certainly train for a race like that in 6 months. It can be helpful to have a larger achievement that your efforts can contribute to, but plan for smaller wins along the way. What can you achieve in a week, or in a month? Can you create an attainable goal of a daily movement practice that pushes you toward your goal?
This is where you get to ask yourself why you want to achieve your goals, and you’ll want to seriously consider your deeper motivations. Perhaps you’ve always been heavier and you want the experience of slimming down to a healthy weight. Maybe you want to look more muscular for a special event. Maybe you want to enjoy the health and longevity benefits that come with having improved body composition and greater strength and mobility. Just make sure that your goal is important to YOU, for your own reasons, not because you’re trying to meet someone else’s standards.
Consider what a reasonable timeframe is for what you want to achieve. Your goal should push you, it should be a little hard and require some effort, but not so much that you hurt yourself in the process. Having a goal that’s too small is also counterproductive since you won’t see it as a challenge. Be honest about what you can achieve in a given timeframe. Losing 5 pounds in a month is reasonable, whereas losing 5 pounds in a day is unrealistic and losing 5 pounds in a year is so small a goal you might ignore it.
Keep at it!
Once you've set a goal, achieving it is all about making sure you stick to your plan. Determine your goal, whether it's to lose one pound each week, do five full push-ups in two weeks, or run a 5K in 30 days. From there, create a strategy to assist you to reach your goal. Hold yourself accountable, keep at it, and success will come.
Lots of people find that outcome goals are more challenging, because there are a lot of things that can impact that outcome besides our own efforts. Sometimes the scale just doesn't want to move, or life events get in the way. Instead, try a HABIT based goal, where every day you take some action that gets you where you want to be. For example, every day you can do 5 push-ups, which is something that's more in your control than "bench press 200 pounds."
A great habit based goal is to make sure you're getting the nutrition you need every day. A great place to start is getting a daily glass of electrolytes first thing in the morning to rehydrate after all night in bed. Grab your favorite flavor of Electrolyte Recovery Plus and put it in front of your coffee maker, so you get the minerals you need even before your daily brew.
Remember that your personal goals are your own, and you can change them at any time if your life circumstances demand it. However, once you create a goal and a plan for how to get there, it will help you build confidence in all areas of your life if you can stick to that plan. Plus, if you’re able to stick to your plan and achieve your goal, then you get to enjoy the results! Imagine what it will feel like when you’ve met your SMART goal!