The Smart Goals
The New Year is upon us and many of you will be underway with your fitness goals. Very often New Year’s resolutions are given up before the month of January is even over which leaves you chasing the summer body you dreamed of just weeks away from your holiday. This is when the damage is done and I hear about unhealthy approaches to dieting in a desperate bid to look fractionally better. My advice, start early and start right.
A very popular and easily remembered way of setting goals is by using the acronym S.M.A.R.T. This stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. Every year I express this and every year I use it to set and achieve my goals for the year ahead. Ensure your goals are SMART and you are one step closer to achieving them.
The goals you set needs to be personal and really focused in on what you want to achieve. How do you want to look? How much muscle mass do you want to add? How much body fat do you want to lose?Avoid setting vague goals such as ‘This year I want to lose weight’, this is meaningless and has no specificity. You can lose weight by chopping off your hand but that doesn’t achieve your goal does it?
Be specific to the point that you write down how much weight you plan to lose and by when… ‘By May 2014 I want to lose 2 stone of body fat’. This is the extent that you have to be specific, you can now focus yourself on this goal as their is a clear deadline and a number you have to work towards.
To keep on track and motivated you need to be able to measure your success throughout your journey. The ‘losing weight’ example I gave has no measure of success. Losing 2 stones of body fat on the hand does as you have the opportunity to weigh yourself on a regular basis, take measurements and pictures to determine your success.
Whatever method you choose to measure your goals, make sure you are consistent and focus on each day as it comes.
When you set your goals try not to be over ambitious. The goals you set must be humanly possible and within your capabilities. It’s good to be ambitious with your goals but being over ambitious can cause you to become highly demotivated if you fail to reach your goal due to it being unachievable. I often hear about these unachievable goals when summer is nearing and people set goals to lose several stones in a matter of weeks! Aside from this being an unhealthy goal, it just adds unnecessary pressure to what should be an enjoyable process of looking good and becoming healthy.
Be honest with yourself, set goals that you know YOU can achieve.
This goes hand in hand with ‘achievable’ goals, you have to be realistic with what you can and are willing to commit to. January is a time when the gyms are flooded with newbies wanting to achieve their goals. They commit to training 5 days a week (Monday to Friday) for 2 hours. Now I’m not saying that is not possible but it is possible to maintain over long periods of time? probably not if you are new to training. Also, where have you suddenly found the extra 10 hours to dedicate to exercising from? It is for this reason the gyms slowly start to empty over the months of February and March and through to summer.
Be realistic with your goals, start gradual and make your training progressive. Joining the gym and exercising 2-3 days a week for the first month is more than you have done previously and is realistic based on your time. Reaching your fitness goals is not a sprint but a marathon of mini wins in the process to achieving your goals.
There must be a time frame that you wish to achieve your goal within. This will keep you focused as the days and weeks go by so you have a definitive deadline of what you want and by when. These goals may be short term weekly goals or longer term monthly and yearly goals. Setting yourself shorter time bound goals will help keep you on track with your long term goals. Break down your goal of losing 2 stones into weekly goals and aim to lose 1-2 a week. This takes the pressure away from losing what seems to be a big amount of weight and makes you focus more on your daily tasks and training to achieve that slightly more comforting, weekly goal.