Today I wanted to share my thoughts and tips for Setting and Achieving Fitness Goals.
If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by how for you have to go. Many times, we forget that things take time!
Below are some of my ideas on how to set goals that are manageable and achievable, and therefore help you break your fitness journey into sustainable steps.
First, set REACHABLE goals and set them OFTEN. Your goals today won’t be the same goals you have 6 months from now. You will always set new goals once you achieve your current ones, so don’t worry so much about the big picture (although a long term goal is good), but focus mainly on the little steps that will add up to be the big picture. What can you achieve in the next three months? In the next 2 weeks? What little steps can you take to get there? Once you achieve these, set new ones! Examples might be:
- Tracking your calories/macros least 5 days a week, even if you aren’t hitting them perfectly. Eventually, you will be able to hit them more accurately as you see your eating patterns.
- Going to the gym X number of days a week. Choose the number that works for you to make it sustainable as it becomes a habit.
- Trying and perfecting the form on a few new exercises over the course of a couple months.
- Drinking X amount of water a day. Again, find was is sustainable NOW. Then, reevaluate after a few weeks.
Second, set goals that you know are HEALTHY and SUSTAINABLE for you. Every body and every person is different. In other words, know your limits and work within them. It may sound great to set a goal of “Cutting out all sugar”, but this is likely not sustainable (also, we must be careful not to demonize a certain food as “bad”). However, it may be sustainable to use honey or Stevia in lieu of sugar more often, or just eat less of that certain sugar filled food we love and find ways to fit it into our nutrition plan.
As an example: I used to eat a bowl of ice cream almost every other night. While ice cream is not “bad”, it has a lot of fat and sugar and, if I ate it that often now, it would likely often put me over my calories/macros, as most of my calories/macros are used up on regular, more filling foods during the day, and I don’t usually have enough left for a bowl of ice cream every other night. But, I still want to be able to eat it. So I will try to plan a day every few weeks where I can fit it in. It usually will make me change up the foods I eat that day and I may not get as many filling, nutrient dense foods, but I do fit it in and then I enjoy it! And then (this is very important), I do not feel guilty about it AT ALL. If I want ice cream more often than just once every few weeks, I try to find alternatives that still taste good, but maybe are lower in fat and calories than normal ice cream (like Halo Top, Arctic Zero, Enlightened or some kind of Frozen Yogurt).
So find what is sustainable for you. If you just cannot live without cookies, find a cookie you like that you can fit into your nutrition plan. It may be less often than normal and it may be just one cookie instead of three, but you can STILL eat cookies and lose weight.
Another thing I want to say about this is that it will take time to learn this moderation if you are used to restricting things and then bingeing on them. Having just one or two cookies and then moving on may be very difficult. Again.. allow yourself grace and try again next time. You will not do this perfectly every time, and it may feel more like two steps forward, one step back, but as long as you keep trying, you WILL get there.
Third, set goals that EXCITE you. Don’t feel like you must just get on the treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes every time you go to the gym. If you like this and this never gets old, great! You can definitely find ways to mix things up there, like doing internals, going longer, or working with more resistance. But if you find this is too monotonous, find goals that are exciting. Start taking an exercise class that is outside of your comfort zone and go, once a week or every other week, until you start to feel like you are much better at it. Learn some new some weight lifting exercises and focus on achieving good form. Then, aim for a certain number of sets/reps with good form. Then, set a goal to increase your weight. One awesome thing about weight lifting is that you can always be setting higher goals to lift more weight. It’s never static.
Lastly, remember WHY your are setting these goals. Make a list of your reasons and remind yourself of these reasons often. Read them out loud to yourself when you feel discouraged or when others try to discourage you. This change is for you, and that is not selfish. When you feel better, happier, healthier, and stronger, it can only improve other areas of your life. It’s OK to put yourself FIRST here.
Finally, it is important to remember that you won’t always meet your goals perfectly. You may not drink enough water. Some days you may not drink any! You may have a full day where you don’t track anything! (Taking a break like this actually may be healthy after a while.) These days WILL happen. Allow yourself forgiveness when they do, and try again the next day. People that are able to give themselves the same grace they would show to others when they fail are more likely to continue on their journey. Beating yourself up and putting yourself down for not being perfect DOES NOT help. It’s ok! This will likely happen more often in the beginning, which is to be expected when changing your habits. But these things will become more natural over time. Even the strongest, most in shape people have days where they fail, and a part of pushing yourself to be better in fitness IS failing, because you’re reaching for higher and higher goals. It’s a part of the process and is bound to happen! Accept that.
I want to finish this post with some encouragement to anybody starting their fitness journey and setting their goals right now:
You are BRAVE. Making a change to your life that is different, scary and may seem impossible is a very brave thing to do. It is easy to sit in your comfort zone and stick with what you know; it’s not easy to change yourself and your habits. But it is what makes us better and I hope that you will remember that you are amazing and that you can accomplish SO much more than you think.
Best of luck to you!