We’ve all been there. We set high expectations for our exercise goals that we soon realize might be a bit too ambitious. When fitness goals seem too challenging, it can be much easier to quit before reaching them. Don’t worry though, your resolutions don’t have to end abruptly. There are ways to realize your fitness aspirations that can lead to long-standing lifestyle changes. Pro Tips is here to guide you through setting workout goals that last.
1. MAKE THEM REALISTIC
The best way to ensure you’ll achieve your goal? Be realistic about what you want to accomplish. It’s easy to give up when goals are too ambitious. Before getting started, take your current lifestyle into consideration. Small, incremental changes can be much easier to manage than dramatic ones.
Wondering how to set realistic goals? One way is to follow the “SMART” technique. This technique has five points to consider when setting a new goal.
- Specific: Vague goals are hard to measure (and hard to maintain). Rather than simply saying, “I want to get fit,” think about the ways in which you want to improve your fitness. Is there a new activity you want to start? Do you want to set new PRs in running or lifting? Making sure your goal is direct and detailed is key.
- Measurable: How will you know you’re making progress if you can’t track it? The second element to a strong goal is choosing one with tangible metrics to evaluate.
- Attainable: Remember how we talked about those overly ambitious goals? This is where the third step of the SMART technique comes in. Make sure you have the tools, resources and time to achieve your task.
- Realistic: It is important to be honest with yourself. Achieving fitness goals is a tough task. There’s no shame in starting off with a smaller objective you’re confident you’ll be able to meet.
- Time-Bound: The best goals have a timeline. Don’t think about it as a deadline. Rather, focus on a timeframe to avoid pushing your goals off to “someday.”
2. WRITE OUT A PLAN – AND KEEP TRACK
Hold yourself accountable by tracking your progress. When getting started, write out your main goal and the steps you plan on taking to achieve it. From there, you can use a variety of methods to measure your progress. Old fashioned pen and paper, progress photos, a workout log and apps can all be great ways to stay connected with your fitness process. You can also track how many days per week you work toward your goal, as well as any milestones you achieve along the way.
BONUS PRO TIP: Not only does maintaining a tracker keep you engaged, but it can also act as a time capsule allowing you to look back at how far you’ve come.
3. SET SMALLER GOALS ALONG THE WAY
When it comes to fitness goals, it’s not just the final destination that matters. The journey does, too. For big goals, it can sometimes seem as though the end is far away. Setting smaller goals along the way can help keep you motivated and excited to work out.
4. REWARD YOURSELF FOR MILESTONES
Don’t forget that the smaller goals are accomplishments, too. Stay motivated by rewarding yourself for the achievements you hit along the way. Everyone’s version of self-care is a little different. Whether you love a good bubble bath or a slice of chocolate cake, giving yourself a mental high-five can make all your hard work feel worth it.
5. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED
Everyone has off days – and even off weeks. Don’t let these minor setbacks define your progress. It’s about the long game, not perfection. There will be hurdles to overcome, but the main thing is to stay positive. If you don’t make it to the gym or miss a day of running, there is always tomorrow.
Remember: exercise goals are customizable to everyone. There is no such thing as “one size fits all.” Whether you are looking to work out from home, get started with yoga, train for a 10K or become acclimated with the gym, your goals can be achieved with a little planning and a lot of perseverance.