We all do it every year.
We make a promise to ourselves each year about a fitness goal. A bit of time goes by, and the dream we had just weeks before have long disappeared. What happens to our fitness goals? And why are they so darn hard to achieve?
The answer is there are many reasons why we decide not to stick to our goals. We have food ads everywhere, we are busy at work, our body aches, we have prior engagements. There are so many legitimate excuses you could come up with that you do start to believe that it is impossible to achieve the goal you initially set out to do.
I can proudly say that I have met some of my fitness goals over the years, and I want to share how I achieved those goals with you.
My fitness goals over the years
I cannot say that I have a fitness goal every year when setting out my New Years' resolutions. However, I do have had a couple of fitness goals that I proudly achieved. Take the fitness goal I set back in 2016.
2016 Goal: Run 12 5ks in a Year
I set out a goal to run 12 5ks in a single year. I ran track in high school, and the best part of it was the adrenaline rush I'd get competing in track meets.
As an adult, I still love that adrenaline rush and have found it in running 5ks.
I chose 12 because that meant I could run one per month and be pretty satisfied with that. I also liked the idea of running 5ks because it encouraged me to keep working out on my own so that I am not too sore at the race. Previously, the most 5ks I'd ever done in a given year was six. I was ecstatic when I finally made it to 12.
2019 Goal: Lose Weight
In 2019 I was ready to be a little healthier by shedding some pounds. I did not have a set number of pounds I wanted to lose, but I knew I felt much better when I was smaller. I lost 24 lbs over a year and got so many more benefits from this. I slept better, felt less stressed, and enjoyed working out again.
I am confident if I could achieve these things, there is no reason why you cannot achieve your fitness goals.
What happens to our fitness goals?
I mentioned earlier that it is easy to make excuses for yourself after you are committed, and will look for ways to get out of it. But that is just one symptom of the problem.
The more significant issue is you are getting social cues from all over the place to quit.
For example, how many billboards did you see for fast food today? Are your friends active, or are they more sedentary? Do you sit for most of the day at your job? Did you have a donut for breakfast or a bowl of oatmeal? How many people have you seen exercising today?
While some of these things may sound silly, they can be real factors that are helping you decide if you should or should not go to the gym today. With so many social cues working against you, it's no wonder you're talking yourself out of the gym.
That is why it is so important to take a strategic approach when it comes to setting fitness goals.
Step 1: Write down your goal
As with any goal, you have to write it down. There is proof that you are more likely to reach your goal if you write it down. And having a workout goal is no different!
Remember, your goal should be S.M.A.R.T, meaning it should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
So instead of the goal of weight loss in 2020, you should make the goal smart by saying, I want to lose 30 pounds by December 31st, 2020.
Make sure to determine if your goal is attainable and reasonable. For example, if you want to lose 30 lbs, that means you would have to lose about three pounds per month. If that sounds doable to you, then continue!
Write the goal in a place where you can see it often. The placement can be on a vision board, in your agenda or notebook, or through wallpaper on your computer screen. Having the goal in a place where you can see it often will help you stay motivated along the way!
Step 2: Have a Plan
Now that you have your goal, you have to figure out how to do it. This is my favorite part because of all the different tools and technology out there to make having fitness goals that much more attainable. Let's get back to our example of losing 30 lbs this year. How would you do it?
You would probably say with diet and exercise. But the question is, what diet, and what exercise? You could hire some help with training sessions as I did. I worked with Amber of InAweFitness doing a round of flat belly and haven't looked back.
If you are committed to doing this on your own, there are some other things you can utilize to help. You could get a fitness tracker like Fitbit to track your exercise, sleep, steps, water intake, and even your resting heart rate. Tracking these things will help you see how things change as you implement changes in your day-to-day.
You could join a gym or start a workout routine right at home. I like apps like Workout Labs because you can pick from many different fitness routines depending on your goal. If you want to lose weight, tone up, strength training, whatever, they have several programs that allow you to achieve whatever purpose you are looking for.
Lastly, you need to figure out the diet. If so, find a good book that gives you healthier recipes to choose from. There are a ton of cookbooks out there that show you healthy alternatives to your favorite foods. A couple of books I like are The Shredded Chef and No Excuses Detox. Both books include recipes that are healthy and equally delicious!
Remember to meal prep whenever you can! It will make things easier when it comes to eating the right foods when you are hungry. Having a meal that you only have to throw in the microwave instead of having to cook will save you from eating unhealthy snacks.
Step 3: Now DO it!
Now that you've set your goal, wrote it down, and put some a plan in place, all that is left now is to go out and make it happen. Set a schedule for yourself to do one thing towards your goal every day at the same time. It can be going to the gym. Meal prepping once a week, or setting a timer to drink more water every hour.
Make it real by adding it to your calendar as something just important as anything else on your schedule. That is how your goal becomes a reality.
As long as you believe you can do it, and you follow your plan, there is no reason you cannot achieve your fitness goal this year.
You have a plan, a support system, and a good reason to do it. Now all you have to do is believe you can and you will. Good luck on finally hitting that goal you've wanted for so long. I know the sense of achievement you'll feel in the end will be well worth the wait.