Getting fit or fitter can sometimes feel like an insurmountable goal.
In fact, the sheer size of it all can often overwhelm you into procrastination mode, or into feeling fed up at the enormity of the task.
But have no fear! There are sure-fire ways to get around this.
They involve setting fitness goals that are specific, realistic and achievable, and then breaking them down into monthly, weekly, or even daily actions that will help you get there.
Fitness goals are also important because they give you a vision of what is possible, encourage you to push through uncomfortable moments, and are a great way for you to hold yourself accountable.1
So what is the best way to go about setting fitness goals?
Make your goals specific
To choose effective fitness goals, make sure they are specific, rather than vague.
That is, rather than something like “I would like to look good again” or “I want to be healthy”, try to quantify exactly what you want to achieve. For example, “I want to lose 2 stone in the next three months.”
By putting numbers, dates, and specifics to your goals, it then becomes easier to break the goals into regular actions that will mean you actually get there.2
Make your goals achievable
Next, as previously noted, you want achievable goals.
This means knowing yourself, your capabilities, and your current state of health.
Do you want to get your blood pressure down? What is your blood pressure right now?
Do you want to be able to walk for 30 minutes without feeling tired and sore? If so, how far can you walk at the moment?
What’s causing the soreness? If, for example, you have recently been operated on and have been bed bound for a week, then being able to run 100 metres in under 10 seconds, would be an unrealistic goal!
Instead, you might want to start off with being able to jog a kilometre by the end of the year.
Do be sure to only set one goal, or two at the most. Do those things really well, before you take on more goals. 3
Make your goals relevant
Finally, aim to set relevant goals.
This means being clear about what is important to you in life, your overall values and broader life goals.
For example, if you feel strongly about the destructive nature of the beauty myth, it might be more helpful to set goals around your health and your energy levels, than around how much you weigh or what size of clothes you feel you should take.
To set any goals, you will need to be super clear about why you are going to work out in the first place.
These reasons will become your motivation to hold on to as you do the work. Or have fun – as fitness can be both!
So why exercise? Exercise can also help you with your self-esteem, and it is an immediate mood booster. It can improve your sleep quality and your energy levels and help to reduce stress and depression.4
Some 150 minutes of physical activity a week is what is recommended
Of course, if you are looking to lose a significant amount of weight or you have athletic or body-building goals in mind, you may want to eventually aim for significantly more than this.
Your goals and your reasons are your best motivation.
But, we all can lose sight of these, and busy days can make it hard to stay on track.
In which case, there are other forms of motivation you can try, such as getting yourself some great workout clothing or shoes (once you have them, you have to use them right?).
You can also try exercise that you enjoy, such as dance, swimming, or walking or jogging in a place you really like.
You can even give mastering hula-hoops a shot.
You can also place bets or pay yourself for meeting weekly or monthly goals, and have something in mind to spend the money on.5
Using a fitness tracker
Another way to boost your motivation is with wearable fitness trackers and/or apps.
Some apps will even gamify your achievements, but the key thing they offer is a visual or numerical representation of your progress.
Getting fit and healthy can be a slow, long term process. And sometimes, your achievements can be hard to see and appreciate.
An app then, is a tangible record of what you have done, how much more you are doing now, and, perhaps most importantly, of how far you have come.
It is a daily form of accountability, and if you wear a fitness tracker, you may just find yourself deciding to take the stairs in order to get in a few more steps or minutes of exercise!
Last updated: 22 October 2020