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SMART Health and Fitness Goals

21‐01‐16

Do you want to know the sure-fire tips and tricks to achieving your health and fitness goals?

As At One lovers, I'm sure that taking care of your health is a priority for you.

gym fitnessBut did you know that approximately 75% of Australians who set a health or fitness related resolution this year will not achieve their goal.

Achieving Your Goals

If your Resolutions for 2016 are looking shaky, this is not because you're a failure, but more likely because you have not clearly defined what it is you want to achieve and how and when you are going to do this.

But there’s no need to wait until 2017 to start over. You can make health goals any time of the year. If you’ve stopped exercising or following a healthy eating plan for the last few days or weeks does not mean that you have to give up completely. The secret is to just start again. Every day is a chance for a new beginning!

If you really want to make this year the one that you make your resolutions stick and one that you achieve real change in, read on.

Goal Setting

Start by re-visiting your goal and clearly defining it. Setting a specific goal is far more effective than making vague vows to work-out more. If you want to lose weight, state how much weight you want to lose. Rather than wanting to ‘be a better runner’ set a specific target such as being able to run 5 or 10km in a certain time.

smart goalsYour goal will be measurable, so you can determine exactly when it has been achieved. Regularly measuring the progress you are making towards your goal will provide you with the incentive to keep moving forward.

One large goal can be overwhelming so breaking your goal down into smaller mini-goals will make it seem easier to achieve. Its very gratifying to be able to check off a smaller target as you reach it.

A new habit should be realistic enough to be achievable, but challenging enough to be worthwhile. For example, don’t say, “I’m going to the gym every day!” if you are a busy working parent. Instead, be practical and say, “I will exercise at the gym 3 times per week consistently”. You'll fee much more positive about achieving a realistic goal, rather than stressing over an unrealistic one.

Similarly, setting a goal to run a marathon when you hate running is not a realistic goal. Find something that you enjoy; your goal has to be something that you are willing to work towards.

You also need to set a time-frame. There is nothing more motivating than a deadline! Telling yourself you’re going to lose 5kg or that you’re going to build up to be able to run 10km isn’t enough. When do you want to achieve this by? Having a deadline will keep you motivated, create a sense of urgency, and ensure you’ve committed to meeting the goal by a certain time.

Being SMART

The tips I have outlined above constitute the SMART strategy for successful goal setting. SMART stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time-bound

The SMART method is an incredibly effective goal-setting tool as it focuses your attention on the end result of your training. Concentrating on your end goal, as opposed to the short-term discomfort of your workout, is a great way to motivate yourself to get to the gym or complete that workout.

Once you have set a specific goal that is true to you, and you've decided on a specific timeframe that you'll reach this goal by, there are plenty of additional motivational tricks you can use to keep yourself on track to achieving that goal.

Motivational Tips

Take baby steps to start with. Trying to do too much too soon can sabotage even the best-laid plans.

Don’t make drastic changes to your lifestyle; aim to slowly introduce these changes day by day, week by week.

Set yourself a mini-goal to achieve in your first couple of weeks to ensure early success. If you are new to exercise you could say you are going to walk for 30 minutes, 4 times a week for the first two weeks, for example. Having met that short-term goal early on will give you a motivational boost to push you forward.

today is a new beginningMake sure you have support from your closest family and friends. You have to be able to count on them not to de-rail your efforts.

You should also choose a reliable friend, a fitness group or a personal trainer who you can be accountable to, who you can share your goals with and who can help you achieve them by ensuring you stick to your plan and work hard! You are more likely to push yourself harder, work out for longer and exercise more frequently if you work out with a friend, in a group or with a trainer. 

Social media can be an amazing tool for garnering support and making sure you stay focussed. Announcing your goal on line for all your friends to see will make you think twice about giving up. Try posting updates on your progress too, and see how encouraged you feel by all the positive comments your friends post in response!

Don’t be shy about asking a fitness professional for help. As a Personal Trainer it gives me great pleasure and job-satisfaction helping people learn what it is they need to do to achieve their specific goals. It’s wonderful to be able to introduce clients to new techniques and exercises that will keep them challenged, interested and moving forward towards their goals.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Hurdles and set-backs will happen, but that’s ok! Accept that the workout you had planned didn’t happen and move on. Remember, no-one’s perfect and that you are doing this for you so only you can pass judgement on how well you are doing.

If your original reasons for setting your personal goal start to lose their appeal, think of improved fitness as a route to long-term better health and happiness. Regular exercise brings with it a wealth of benefits including lowering blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure, slowing the ageing process and reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, to name a few.

Increased physical activity also improves your mood and boosts your energy levels. If you do start to doubt your motives for setting your health and fitness goal, the knowledge that you are creating a much better quality of life for yourself should be enough to keep you motivated to continue!

Try making changes to your mind-set. Saying you ‘should’ do something, like exercise, immediately implies that you feel the activity is a burden. Replace ‘should’ with ‘want’ in your vocabulary. Similarly, when your will power reserves run low, replace any negative thoughts with, ‘I can and I will’. Repeating this to yourself may sound cheesy, but it can make the difference between making it to the top of the hill on your morning run and wimping out. A positive mental attitude is incredibly empowering. As Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”.

The final most important advice I can give is to be patient. Don't become discouraged when you don’t see changes straight away. It can take up to 4-6 weeks before physical changes from exercise appear. You should be aiming for a fitter, healthier and happier you – as part of a new lifestyle rather than a quick fix - and this does not happen overnight.

About Kate

Kate Davidson personal trainerKate Davidson is a fully qualified and accredited Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. She specialises in functional training, weight loss and weight management, muscle shaping and toning, and run coaching. Kate is a friendly and highly motivational trainer who believes that fitness should be fun! 

Kate is a self-confessed exercise nut, always on the look-out for the latest health and fitness publications and new styles of training.

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