When embarking on a health and fitness journey, it’s so important to have an end goal in sight.
That could be as simple as feeling less out of breath in your day to day activities. Or being able to tie your shoe laces without experiencing pain. Or for the fitness buffs, it could be to run a marathon or do 20 pull-ups.
Whatever it is, make sure it is something meaningful to you. If you are confident that achieving your goal will make you feel happier or better in some way, you’ll be more likely to get there.
Research has shown that goal-setting techniques help people to initiate and maintain healthy habits. People that set themselves goals tend to take a more positive approach to nutrition and stick to their fitness regimes more than those who don’t.
More than that, they provide structure to your fitness regime, making workouts more efficient and targeted. With an end goal in sight, they enable you to progress more quickly. You can actually track your progress which also acts as motivation.
But it’s not enough to simply say you want to be fitter, slimmer or bigger.
All about being SMART
You need to be savvy when setting your goals in order to help you stay on track and see your progress.
That’s where SMART goals come in: S – specific, significant, stretching. M – measurable, meaningful, motivational. A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented. R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented. T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable.
By setting a target in this manner, you can check if you’re on track or if you need to make changes to meet your goals. You can do the necessary planning to get where you need to be and break down the bigger picture into smaller goals.
Get an action plan
Once you have a specific target in mind, coming up with a strategy to achieve it is key. If your goal is to complete a full pull-up, then you need to think about the muscles you need to train to get there and create an appropriate exercise program.
That alone can provide added structure and motivation to get down to the gym on a regular basis. More so than if you had no real idea or plan of how to get to where you want to be.
A 2010 study at Columbia University concluded that women with written exercise plans exercised twice as much as those who lacked written plans.
Make some noise
It’s not just about goal setting. It’s about goal sharing too.
In a weight loss research study conducted by Ray Wu, the cofounder of Weilos, a social media platform for people to talk about their weight loss and fitness goals and share selfies of their progress, showed people who posted progress photos documented greater weight loss than those who didn’t use the sharing platform.
In a 2013 research study published in Translational Behavioral Medicine, participants who published their weight loss progress on Twitter lost more weight than those who kept their progress to themselves.
So let people know about your fitness journey. With their encouragement and support, you’ll be more likely to succeed.
Have you got a fitness goal?