Tips on setting realistic fitness goals
Setting realistic and achievable goals is a key component of many fitness programs. Indeed, having firm goals in place may keep you on track towards achieving results. Here are some tips to get you get started.
Tip One: Setting long-term and short-term goals
Many people approach their health and fitness journeys with a long-term goal, or ‘end’ in mind. For example, to lose my pregnancy weight, to run a half marathon, or to bench press 60kg. Having something to strive for is great, however, it may be a while before you reach this point. Often, the distance between ‘start’ and ‘end’ may seem overwhelming.
This is why it is useful to have short-term goals along the way - to break down your journey into bite sized pieces. Setting and achieving small goals along the way will also help to boost your confidence and motivation, and to keep you connected with your long-term goal.
Tip two: Use the ‘SMART’ goal setting method
We encourage you to use this method for to creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Realistic, within a Timeframe.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, this is how we might make it ‘SMART’:
- Specific: To lose 10kg from my starting weight of 80kg, i.e. to reach 70kg.
- Measurable: Using my home scales, measuring first thing in the morning, without any clothes on.
- Achievable and Realistic: Aiming for 1-2kg weight loss per month (on average), with the likelihood of setbacks and plateaus.
- Timeframe: 1-2kg weight loss per month, measured at the end of each month, allowing 12 months in total to achieve my overall goal
Another example, if your goal is to improve your cardiovascular fitness:
- Specific: To complete the Mother’s Day Classic 5km fun run in May
- Measurable: Using a fitness app or treadmill to track running distance
- Achievable and Realistic: Aiming to run 2km without stopping by the end of March, 4km by the end of April, and 5km by the middle of May. Going for a run 2-3 times per week, most weeks, with the likelihood of setbacks.
- Timeframe: Allowing 2.5 months to reach your goal, starting in March.
Remember, weight loss or improved fitness rarely occurs in a linear fashion. So - don't be disheartened if you aren't losing the same amount of weight each month, or reaching your planned fitness targets. For example, you may lose more weight in the first month, and experience a plateau around the third month. Or, you may struggle to run 2km without stopping after your first month in training, but after 6 weeks, suddenly increase your distance from 1km to 3km without stopping. This is normal, and to be expected!
Tip 3: Create a rewards system
You may wish to add a ‘reward’ system, to incentivize you for each small goal. Using the examples above, if you have achieved a 1-2kg weight loss by the end of the month, or completed your running targets, you may reward yourself by booking a massage!
Tip 4: Stay accountable.
Accountability tools are also useful, when working towards a goal. Keep a food and exercise diary or calendar, write down your long-term and short-term goals, and write down the food and exercise plan you intend to follow in order to achieve these goals. Tick off each plan and goal as you achieve it.