Making goals can be tricky. Sometimes people don’t know what they want and sometimes people do know but doubt their abilities to reach that goal. Goals need to be realistic, but for the most part, any goal you set for yourself is possible. If you want to be able to do a pull-up, there are steps to take to be able to do that one day! If you are overweight and want to get to a healthier size, a bit of hard work and dedication and you’re there! Want to be able to do the splits, stretch … a lot!
Often when I ask someone what their fitness goals are, his or her answer is ‘I want to lose weight’. Goals don’t always need to be about weight loss; in fact it’s better if they aren’t. Goals can be about your appearance – waist size, body fat, arm size, butt size, weight loss. Heck, we all have a dream body in our heads. I’ve always had similar goals about “reshaping” my body. But, the goals I find more rewarding are the ones regarding my ability. I set a goal to be able to do a 10-minute plank, and guess what, I did it!
I’m not saying that needs to be one of your goals, but it’s a good example of a goal that has nothing to do with weight loss and body shape. Making goals this way feels like you are actually working towards something tangible. Goals about weight loss can be tricky because no one really knows how quickly or slowly you will drop pounds (no matter how hard you work). But, if you are adding 10-seconds to your plank everyday, you know eventually you will get to 10-minutes! If you increase your running distance every time you go for a jog, pretty soon you’ll be able to run a marathon!
“Ability goals” are also great because by working hard to achieve them, you are also working towards your “appearance goals”. Doing planks everyday is going to help flatten your abs. Running everyday is going to help you lose weight. Going into a workout knowing what you are trying to achieve for the day helps eliminate the lagging around time and not knowing what to do. Knowing you are going to do this many pushups and run for this long so that you can reach your goal for the day makes your exercise time more productive. A more productive workout usually means you spend less time at the gym and work harder, thus burning more fat and/or gaining more strength.
The key to goal making is to make mini-goals. Make a goal for yourself every week or every day if you want to! This week instead of lifting the 10-pound weights, make it a goal to grab the 12’s. There’s not a big difference, but that little achievement will make you stronger. Give yourself daily goals, weekly goals, and monthly goals. If you keep pushing yourself like that, you will keep getting closer and closer to those big goals.
Once you reach a goal, reward yourself. And no, that does not mean – I worked hard today I’m going to destroy the desert buffet. You can treat yourself to food every once in a while, but rewards for achieving fitness goals should not be food related. You finally did one pull-up; treat yourself to a massage. I’m sure your upper body needs it! Get even more extreme with it and have your rewards be fitness related. You ran a mile in under 10 minutes; reward yourself by signing up for a fun 5k, like the Color Run.
The most important thing to remember about goals is not to obsess over them. This is why making small goals is so important. Don’t expect yourself to lose 20-pounds in a week. It’s not healthy and it’s really not possible. Don’t hurt yourself trying to achieve a goal. Take baby steps towards your goal, and if that means it takes a little longer to get there, that is fine! It’s better you get there the safe way!