Setting Fitness Goals

Most of us have, at one time or another, made a promise to achieve some kind of vague health or fitness-related goal. Statements such as “I will lose weight” or “I will get fit” are good examples. While it’s important have these positive lifestyle intentions, we often fail at following through with them because the goal is simply too vague, unplanned and unrealistic.

Not following through on a goal can leave you feeling discouraged, which leads to the exact opposite result than the one you had intended. Feeling like a failure can in turn lead to an increase in unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. But on the flip side, achieving a goal can make you feel strong and well-organized, which often leads to following through on more positive lifestyle changes.

So what makes the difference between success and failure? It all comes down to setting realistic and attainable goals that will set you up for a successful outcome.

This means that every goal should be clearly defined. For example, saying “I want to lose weight” is too vague. Instead, try “I want to lose 20 pounds total, in increments of one to two pounds per week.” Secondly, you should be able to clearly measure your progress. Saying “I want to get in shape” gives you no clear way to assess your progress. In order to re-frame the above goal so that it is measurable, start by measuring your fitness level. Then, determine a six-week goal based on the initial data. For example, if you start out by being able to run three miles in 34 minutes, a measurable—and realistic—six-week goal would be to run three miles, with no walking breaks, in under 30 minutes.

Don’t let yourself fall into this trap by setting unattainable health goals such as, “I want to lose 10 pounds in 10 days.” Instead, aim to lose half a pound to two pounds per week. Attempting to lose weight faster than this is unhealthy and will only set you up for disappointment.

Bottom line, remember that there are no quick fixes when it comes to fitness. Setting realistic goals, and making a genuine effort to attain your goal is a solid way to develop the healthy habits that will help you achieve long-term success.

Bill Pec Only

Bill Pec is a personal trainer located in Portland, Oregon.  He offers one-on-one exclusive personal training out of his fully equipped studio.