How to Set Fitness Goals You Can Keep
It’s that time of year again! The calendar has turned and everyone is absolutely, optimistically positive that 2018 is going to be THE year that they finally get fit. The bad news? Research suggests that only about 9% of people will actually achieve their resolutions.
So why aren’t more people successfully crushing their fitness goals? Part of the problem lies in the approach. Setting fitness goals that are both easy and fun to achieve means moving away from dramatic changes and a ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude. In fact, the best way to succeed is through simplicity and consistency.
February: The Boulevard of Broken Goals
Whether you’ve set your sights too high, spread yourself thin by setting way too many goals, or realized pretty quickly that there is no way you can keep this up all year long – you’re in good company if you find yourself waving a slightly dejected goodbye to your goals by the time February rolls around.
The good news? There are methods to setting goals that you can actually achieve – here’s how:
1) Focus on one small change and make it a habit
Instead of tackling your entire diet at once, try starting with something simple, like eating a healthy breakfast, and focus on that for a few weeks until it’s become a habit, then tackle the next aspect of your diet you’d like to change. This way you won’t be overwhelmed by the changes, but making progress each week.
If your workouts are starting to feel like a chore, try working on your least favourite exercise for just 5 minutes at the beginning or end of each session. It’s pretty normal to start to dislike any exercise that we struggle with. So if pull ups are a pain, try doing 3-4 sets of 50% of your max pull ups after every workout (so if you can do 10 pull ups do 3-4 sets of 5 after every session). If you aren’t training to failure your technique will improve with practice and as you get proficient with the exercise you may find you enjoy it more (or at least hate it less).
The ‘start small’ approach really works: Last year was a busy one for me and I was struggling to get more cardio into my week. I added a simple 5 minutes of skipping before my workouts. Once I could successfully skip 5 minutes before my workout I added it after my training session as well. Next thing I knew I was getting 50 mins of skipping in per week.
2) Focus on Process Goals vs Outcome Goals
Losing 10 lbs or running 10 km in less than an hour are examples of outcome goals. The problem with outcome goals is that feeling of satisfaction only comes at the end. And that’s assuming that the end even arrives – with an outcome goal losing ‘only’ 9lbs instead of 10 actually becomes a failure.
Instead, set a process goal like resolving to prep dinner for 3 nights of the week on Sunday and take leftovers from those healthy meals as lunch. This way, every week on Sunday you will feel like a superstar as you prep and chop, knowing that you’re following through on your goal. The outcome of having more energy and losing weight from eating healthy will just be a bonus.
3) Be consistent
Setting small goals will keep you consistently in the game. Instead of working out for an hour twice a week, change it to 30 minutes of regular exercise five days a week. Regular exercise is better for your metabolism, and smaller, manageable chunks are easier to handle. It’s also a bit of a fail safe: if you miss one workout, you’re only missing one small part of your weekly workout.
So this year, tweak your resolutions to ensure your success. Small, consistent changes may not be as flashy as dramatic ones, but by approaching your goals this way you’re that much closer to achieving your 2018 fitness goals.
Yours in health,
Craig Boyd – personal trainer, boot camp, and CrossFit instructor. For help setting your fitness goals or to train with Craig, contact us.