With 2013 now well underway, many people will have already started their New Year health kick and will be grafting away in the gym or the pool.
At the same time, there’s a good chance that a lot of people will already have given up on their fitness dreams.
One major reason for an early exit from a health regime is not having a clear idea of what you’re doing it for – hitting the gym to lose weight is a fantastic idea, but how much are you looking to lose? Want to get fitter? Sounds great. But what does it mean?
It’s easy to become lost if you don’t know where you’re going.
And for that reason, the first step on any exercise or health journey should be to work out your goals.
Setting clear and defined targets will give your exercise and health plans more purpose, allowing you to look at the bigger picture and persevere when the going gets tough.
So, what should you focus on when making your targets? Well, you can’t beat the old-fashioned approach of making goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reward-based, Time-specific.
If your aim is to exercise more, then give it a number – aim to go to the gym twice a week or swim once a week. Plan which days you’ll take on which activities and for how long to build yourself a routine.
And if you miss a day, no problem – just re-schedule for another time and you’ll catch up in time.
You need to know you are going in the right direction. By making your goals measurable, you can track your performance over time. The best way to achieve this is to give your goals a number. For example, “I will achieve one more push up every week” is much easier to track than “I will do more push-ups.”
The same principle applies to weight loss – losing weight takes place over the course of a week, not just one or two exercise sessions, so give your weight loss goals an overall number and a weekly figure so you can keep an eye on how you’re doing.
When setting your goals, take a step back and think “can I actually do this?” Many people aim too high too soon and quickly burn out.
For instance, making a goal to drop more than a couple of inches in a short space of time is incredibly. Missing your target once or twice is no fun at all – whereas achieving a challenging goal regularly will give You a massive boost.
Take your time, and build up your schedule slowly. If you’re not exercising at all at the moment, then trying to jump straight to five sessions a week will be near impossible. If you have time in your schedule, you can always squeeze in another session.
It shouldn’t all be about the stick – there’s nothing wrong with a bit of carrot now and then!
Promise yourself a reward at a set time or goal points throughout your journey to give you some light at the end of the tunnel. Avoiding unhealthy foods to drop a dress size? Reward yourself with a big meal when you hit your target.
Let your rewards be your motivation to keep going when others might give up.
Give your goals specific timelines to avoid them being open-ended and ambiguous.
Fancy taking up a new class? Aim to take part in one yoga session before end of the month.
For longer term goals, plan smaller targets along the way. For instance, if your eventual aim is to run a 10k race, take part in some smaller distance events first and work your way up – you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
When making your goals, make sure you keep them at the front of your mind every day – write them down and keep them in a visible place at home so that you’re reminded of them every day.
Share your goals with your friends – the motivation you’ll receive when they ask you how it’s going will help drive you on to achieve more and report back with the good news.
And above all else, plan and persevere – when you start to achieve all those small and individual targets, they’ll soon add up to some serious achievement.
Start your goal-setting at the beginning with our handy tools, such as our BMI calculator and weight chart to plan your journey. Click here to find out more.
Need help making your plan? Our Fitness Coaches and Personal Trainers can help you with your targets, whether you’re just getting started or taking it to the next level. Click here to read more.