A 3-Step Plan to Meeting Your Fitness Goals
There’s no doubt that many of us have fitness aspirations and big hairy audacious goals that we dream of meeting. It may be a rippled mid-section, bigger biceps, a less fluffy appearance, or maybe even completing an endurance event. No matter what your goal is, it’s imperative that you set yourself up for success. Here’s how.
1. Create a plan. There are two rules in this step: keep it simple and write it down.
Planning — what’s done before a goal is even attempted—sits at the very epicenter of success. A good plan will allow you to follow through while a bad plan (or worse, no plan at all) will most likely leave you at the same place you’ve always been – merely dreaming of reaching your goals and not actually accomplishing them. Books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Eat that Frog! speak of planning and goal setting from the very first chapters. In the latter, author Brian Tracy suggests “setting the table” by giving readers seven steps to reach any goal. To keep it simple, I’ve boiled it down so that it’s easier to implement and urge you only to “write it down.” The book states:
Only about 3 percent of adults have clear, written goals. These people accomplish five and ten times as much as people of equal or better education and ability but who, for whatever reason, have never taken the time to write out exactly what they want.
So, get out the pen and paper, the notebook and marker, or the iPad and notes app and get to it. Write down your number one health-related goal for (we’re keeping it simple, so stick to one). Now set a deadline for when you want this goal to be accomplished. Bullet out, down to the very minute details, what you need to do be reach that goal. Post your goals, deadlines, and details somewhere they are visible to you every day (mine are printed in my daily planner, hanging on my closet wall and posted on my refrigerator door) and then do something every day that gets you closer to victory.
2. Track your progress.
Seeing what you’ve accomplished is a great motivator to keep going. Tracking your workouts, meals, or other tasks that you’re using to reach your ultimate written goal also allows you to find what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s easier to change your course of action and be more effective when you can look back and repeat what’s worked in the past. Having a record of good days, bad days, and the outcomes of each will help you plot the best course for future success. Free fitness apps such as My Fitness Pal, Livestrong’s My Plate, and LoseIt track food and activity while others like Map My Run and CardioTrainer use GPS to track activity and estimate calories burned. Most of these apps include social integration and allow you to build a positive network that provides accountability and support.
Most of us require external motivation to kick our rear in gear and that’s not such a bad thing. When there’s a carrot dangling at the end of a rope (or perhaps a new pair of shoes or a fun new gadget), I’m definitely more likely to stick to my plan. So make it fun and give yourself something to look forward to (more than the slimmer, toned, more energized, healthier you). Place these rewards throughout your plan—not just at the very end—so that you feel as if the prize is attainable by completing a reasonable amount of work. For example, during a 16 week marathon training plan, I allow myself to get a massage if I’ve completed 95 percent of my workouts at the end of six weeks. New shoes are the reward if I make it through 12 weeks. That shiny finisher’s medal and a spa day await me at the finish line!
At first, even this 3-step process may seem hard but you’ll likely find that getting started is the hardest part. Everyone’s plan is unique and as long as you have good intentions and are doing what’s in your power to improve, this process will work. These steps are gracious and flexible. Just be sure to revisit your plan and goals periodically and modify them as necessary. All good plans allow for mistakes, re-dos, and changes so go forth without fear and conquer!
Still feel lost and unsure of how to start? Contact a professional to help you. Most personal trainers include goal setting, fitness planning, and accountability services in their training sessions. Trainers and coaches can ensure you’re on the right track and lead you to success.