How To Set Achievable Fitness Goals
Setting realistic and achievable goals is a key component of many fitness programs and can play a key role in keeping you on track towards achieving results. Here are some tips to get you started.
Tip One: Use the SMART goal approach
We encourage you to use this method for creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Realistic, within a Timeframe.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, this is how we might make it ‘SMART’:
– Specific: To lose 10kg from my starting weight of 80kg, i.e. to reach 70kg.
– Measurable: Using my home scales, measuring first thing in the morning, without any clothes on.
– Achievable and Realistic: Aiming for 1-2kg weight loss per month (on average), with the likelihood of setbacks and plateaus.
– Timeframe: 1-2kg weight loss per month, measured at the end of each month, allowing 12 months in total to achieve my overall goal.
Another example, if your goal is to improve your cardiovascular fitness:
– Specific: To complete the Mother’s Day Classic 5km fun run in May
– Measurable: Using a fitness app or treadmill to track running distance
– Achievable and Realistic: Aiming to run 2km without stopping by the end of March, 4km by the end of April, and 5km by the middle of May. Going for a run 2-3 times per week, most weeks, with the likelihood of setbacks.
– Timeframe: Allowing 2.5 months to reach your goal, starting in March.
Remember, weight loss or improved fitness rarely occurs in a linear fashion. So – don’t be disheartened if you aren’t losing the same amount of weight each month, or reaching your planned fitness targets. For example, you may lose more weight in the first month, and experience a plateau around the third month. Or, you may struggle to run 2km without stopping after your first month in training, but after 6 weeks, suddenly increase your distance from 1km to 3km without stopping. This is normal, and to be expected!
Tip Two: Setting long-term and short-term goals
Many people approach their health and fitness journeys with a long-term goal, or ‘end’ in mind. Having something to strive for is great, however, it may be a while before you reach this point. Often, the distance between ‘start’ and ‘end’ may seem overwhelming. This is why it is useful to have short-term goals. Short term goals will break down your journey into bite sized pieces, boost your confidence and motivation, and keep you connected with your long-term goal. The SMART goal process usually focuses on long term, so make sure you spend time creating short term goals to match.
Tip Three: Set goals around behaviour, not just outcomes
The difference between behaviour and outcome goals is – you can directly control behaviours, yet outcomes are often beyond control. For example, you may set an ‘outcome goal’ of losing 10kg in 12 weeks, but you cannot predict how your body will respond or lose weight according to your efforts. However, you CAN set and control ‘behaviour goals’, such as cutting out snacks after dinner during the week, and hitting the gym 4 days a week. So, once you’ve set your SMART long term and short-term goals, make sure you include behaviour goals, to give you that sense of control.
Tip Four: Stay accountable.
Accountability tools are also useful, when working towards a goal. Keep a food and exercise diary or calendar, write down your long-term and short-term goals, and write down the food and exercise plan you intend to follow in order to achieve these goals. Tick off each plan and goal as you achieve it. If you need someone to help you stay accountable, enlist a personal trainer, dietitian or healthcare professional. The financial commitment alone will help keep you on track, although having the support and advice is nice too!