Setting Realistic Fitness GoalsSeptember 16th, 2011
The success of any workout plan or fitness regimen is determined by the progression from one goal to the next. In order to progress in a healthy way it is very important to set realistic fitness goals. Setting one large goal is great; however, it is never just one step from where you are today to that goal. Setting small short term goals and reaching them will eventually lead to your overall goal but in a realistic and healthy way.
How to set these goals is going to be based largely on what you hope to achieve from your workouts. If gaining muscle is your long term goal then your short term goals may include week long periods of careful calorie counting to insure you consume more than you burn off. Or short term lifting progressions. For example, if you are building your biceps, find an initial weight that falls within your body’s current limits. Lift that weight and then move up by 5 or 10 pounds every few weeks. This is the kind of progression that makes sense and is healthy for your body. Expecting to add an additional 20 or 30 pounds each day will only result in unhealthy levels of fatigue, discomfort, and quick derailment from your long term plan.
Setting goals for a long term weight loss plan is going to be a little different but the same logic applies. Dieting is often the hardest part in any weight loss plan. Setting small dietary goals will help you transition into healthier eating habits gradually. For example, if you currently eat fast food on average three times a week, cut it down to 2 times a week for a month, then cut back to 1 time a week for a month, and eventually eliminate it entirely. Or keep going 3 times a week, but slowly cut back on the fries, get water instead of soda the next week, then start ordering grilled chicken instead of fried chicken. With either approach the logic is the same. Small goals that are attainable in the short term will build your confidence and will keep you on track. If you try to cut all the bad things out at the same time, you are much more likely to get frustrated and give up.
In addition to setting dietary goals, a weight loss program requires a physical exercise component. This can be another hard step for individuals who are not as active as they would like to be. It is very easy to think you need to go run 5miles on day one. Yes, there will be physical benefits to that kind of workout; however, they won’t be worth the mental deficit this kind of extensive workout may result in . If you are new to working out just try an activity that will boost your heart rate for at least 15minutes each day. This can be any number of things from intramural sports to walking around the neighborhood. Once you exercise for 15minutes, move on to 20minutes, then 25, then 30 and so on. A healthy workout time is about 30-45minutes if weight loss and fat burning is your long term goal. Again, it is important to build up to this goal, so take it slow and your body will thank you.
These are short term goals that not only help build confidence mentally, but your body will respond better to this gradual slope. Giant spikes in any progression are usually followed by big falls, so take small steps. An increase in your intensity as small as it may be is still an increase. Think of your goals as steps in a staircase, each step no matter its size, still moves you up. Overtime you will reach your long term fitness goal in a healthy way and the staying power of your results which be much greater.