Making It Happen: Setting Fitness Goals
The first step in any exercise program should be setting fitness goals. By taking some time to map out your goals and plan your strategy for reaching them, you’ll be more successful and feel more satisfied when you achieve them.
Ask Yourself Questions
The first thing you should do when starting a fitness program is ask yourself some questions. Here are some to get you started:
- What do you hope to get out of this fitness program?
- Are your expectations realistic?
- When do you want to accomplish your goals?
- How will you measure your success as you go?
- How will you reward yourself when you achieve your goals?
Take a few minutes to think about these questions. Write down your answers and refer to them as you go about setting your goals.
What is your long-term goal? Can it be broken into smaller steps? If you break your long-term objective into “mini-goals” that you can accomplish more quickly, you’ll be more likely to stay motivated and stick with your fitness program. For instance, if you’re hoping to lose 20 pounds, you might consider setting the following mini-goals:
- Ride an exercise cycle for at least 30 minutes five times each week.
- Be able to walk/jog for three miles at the end of six months.
- Lose five pounds in one month.
One important factor is your timetable. Before you begin, think about when you expect to achieve your goals. Are your expectations realistic? If you want to drop 10 pounds by next Wednesday or reduce your cholesterol levels significantly before your doctor’s appointment in two weeks, you need to reevaluate your timetable. It may be more realistic to lose one to two pounds per week or reduce your cholesterol by 10 percent for next year’s physical.
Write It Down
After you’ve come up with the specifics of your goals, write them down. Putting your plan in a fitness journal will help you commit to it and will give you something to turn to in a week or a month, when you may begin veering off track. Write down all your goals (including mini-goals) and when you expect to achieve them. Leave room to log your successes and the challenges you face. You can modify your goals and timetable as you go.
Post your goals someplace where you’ll see them often – your bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, a bulletin board. This will keep you motivated and increase your chances for success.
While you’re writing down your goals, make a schedule that you can follow. Decide how many times a week you’ll exercise, what time of day will be best for you, and which days of the week work best for your schedule. By having a concrete schedule on paper, you’re one step closer to incorporating exercise into your weekly routine.
Measure Your Success
If you don’t measure your progress, it will be hard to stay motivated. Schedule regular intervals when you will measure your success. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, you might log your weight first thing every Monday morning. If you want to build muscle, you can log how much weight you lift each time you strength train.
If you’re trying to bring your blood pressure or cholesterol under control, you can track your progress as you go. Instead of heading to your doctor every week for a test, log the number of times you exercise in a week or the weight you’ve lost. Consider these accomplishments as progress toward your goal. Then, when the doctor gives you the results, you can study your log and modify it accordingly.
By adopting a regular exercise routine, you’ll be rewarded with a better physique, better health and more energy. But why not add a little extra motivation to your plan? As you set your goals (pounds lost, trips to the gym, extra weight lifted), plan ways to reward your progress. You might consider buying yourself a new workout outfit, treating yourself to a round at a golf course or going to a new restaurant you’ve wanted to try.
Taking some time to set goals before you begin afitness program will do wonders to keep you motivated and on the right track. Remember, patience is essential in any exercise program. Keep your mind focused on your goal and enjoy both the pleasure and the benefits of exercise that you’ll gain along the way.