8 tips for effective health & fitness goals
Sunday, January 10, 2021
It’s a new year and as we painstakingly add our health and fitness goals to our list of new year’s resolutions, we shudder at the thought of failing to follow through on this one goal yet again. One in three resolution-makers hopes to achieve a health-related goal, whether it is to exercise more, eat healthier, or lose weight. These are all great goals, all worth following through to the end of the year; so why do most people quit on health and fitness-related goals by mid-February?
In searching for answers I had a sit-down with Robiann Broomfield, PhD student in clinical psychology. “We have a tendency to rush the solutions to the problems we face when we create goals. Goal setting for a lot of us does not include specific, realistic and attainable steps,” she explained. “So, in short, the goals we set simply aren’t effective to achieve our outcomes.” To ensure we are among the few people who follow through on our health and fitness goals this year, I have broken down the eight characteristics of effective goals as described by Broomfield and made them relevant to setting health and fitness goals.
If your goals are vague your results will be vague. So, get specific. Ensure your goals can be seen and measured.
NO: I want to be fit and healthy this year.
YES: I want to run 5 miles, 3 days for the week.
Your goals are yours! They need to be relevant to you and should not be based on the opinions of others or what they would like for you. If you are only setting a goal to please someone else the chances of achieving the goal is very slim as you simply won’t be motivated enough.
NO: My husband/wife wants me to lose 10 pounds, so I will go to the gym.
YES: I want to live a long and healthy life with my family and loved ones, so I will maintain an exercise regime to support this.
3. Positively framed
Focus on what you plan to do versus what you plan to not do. Thinking about what you won’t be able to do on your health and fitness journey versus what you get to do may leave you discouraged, so keep your goals positive.
NO: I will not eat any junk food.
YES: I will eat two healthy, pre-planned meals daily.
The main reason most goals fail is simply that they are just too grand or unrealistic. Make goals more achievable by breaking them down into smaller, separate steps. It’s better to make small changes than none at all. As you begin to achieve one small goal you will get into a momentum of achieving your goals and begin to see the snowball effect.
NO: I want to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year.
YES: For the first two months of the year I will start my weight loss journey by walking as briskly as I can for 30 minutes three mornings for the week.
In the second month I will trade my favourite sugary drink for fruit infused water.
By the third month, I will aim to choose two healthy meals daily for four days.
If you are working on a goal and it’s not going as planned, instead of abandoning the goal consider being flexible with your strategy. Sometimes it only takes a small modification of strategy to get the results you are looking for.
NO: I will add more workout days and work out longer to lose weight faster.
YES: I will do new exercises that will target the right muscles and improve my gains.
If you don’t set a deadline for achieving your goals then chances are you won’t achieve them. A deadline may not force you to complete the goal by a certain date, but it will force you to evaluate your goal by the set date. Ensure your timelines are realistic. If you are setting a goal that you want to achieve in one year then you need to ensure the goal can be achieved in one year.
NO: I will run a 5k this year.
YES: I will run three times weekly to prepare for completing my first 5k in June.
Another major reason for goal failure is that people tend to be so hard on themselves. They are so afraid to accept failing that they would rather give up on a goal than facing failure. Being kind to yourself means accepting your shortcomings and limitations, forgiving yourself if you come up short and continuing with your goal.
NO: I broke my diet; I can never lose weight so I am just going to keep eating badly.
YES: I broke my diet; I feel so guilty but that is OK. I am only human, and I was doing so well before. For my next meal, I will continue eating healthily.
It’s always easier to focus on the results you are working towards instead of the process. However, being focused on the result can cause you to lose sight of how much you have accomplished in pursuit of your goals. Ask yourself, “What did I learn about myself from attempting to reach this goal?”
NO: I maintained my diet and exercised and still only lost five pounds, why should I even bother?
YES: I maintained my diet and exercise, even though I only lost five pounds, I learnt that I am capable of being disciplined. If I continue working towards my goal I will one day get the result I desire.
Revisit your health and fitness goals for this year and see if each target you have set includes the eight characteristics mentioned above. If they do not, reframe your goals and make them more effective. Do not limit this to your health and fitness goals, these characteristics will make all goals more effective. Let’s make 2021 the year we set and achieve our targets.
Kimberly Hoffman Reid is a registered physiotherapist, owner of InSync Health Wellness Beauty and creator of the Mummy Tummy Guide. She has helped countless mothers worldwide heal their diastasis recti.
E-mail: [email protected]