The Best Way to Set Health and Fitness Goals
9 times out of 10 when I talk with a new client about their health and fitness goals, it’s some form of “I want to lose weight” or “I want to tone up and look good.”
While that might be a starting point for the motivation behind wanting to focus on your health, it’s not quite a “goal.” I mean, if your goal is to “look good” how will you ever know when you’ve accomplished it? The answer is to create goals not based on our feeling and emotions, but to create goals using real, tangible actions that we can take.
Setting SMART goals is the perfect strategy for goal-setting in a mindful, intentional way. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Attainable (or Achievable), Relevant (or Realistic), and Timely. So, before you jump into your own health and fitness journey, let’s talk about how to set a SMART goal!
Make it Specific - Once you have a goal in mind, define it in as much detail as possible. Think about the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHY of each goal. Instead of a general goal like “lose weight,” narrow your goals down. For example: “lose 15 pounds by working out after work 5 times a week.” To do this, what is the commitment you need and WHY are you willing to make this commitment?
Make it Measurable - Define exactly how you will measure your progress in reaching your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds, maybe you’ll weigh yourself every Saturday morning to see how you’re doing. If your goal is to workout 5 times a week, set up a calendar for yourself to check off the days.
Make it Attainable - Try to set goals that are a little bit out of your comfort zone but still realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure, which can lead to guilt, shame, and regret. By being intentional and figuring out if you have the energy, focus, and time to achieve each goal, you can avoid setting the bar crazy high. For example, instead of a goal of just trying to “eat better,” a good goal would be to “eat 5 servings of greens per day.” If you love eating meat, a goal of going vegetarian is probably not achievable.
Make it Relevant - To figure out the right goals to put on your “to-do” list, you also need to decide what’s on your “not-to-do” list. Goals need to be personal and geared towards what works for YOU!Taking a dance fitness class is great for some people, but if you hate dancing? Not the best workout to commit to! Really think about YOUR priorities and preferences.
Make it Timely - Define a date by which you’ll accomplish your goals and set milestones along the way. To track your progress, break your goal down into smaller time-framed milestones. It’s also important not to give yourself TOO much time to accomplish a goal, so you don’t get bored or lose focus.
Now, it’s time to think carefully about what you want to accomplish BEFORE you ever step foot into a gym or prep a single healthy meal. As for the first goal on your list? It should be making a plan and setting yourself up for success!