Fitness goals are an excellent source of motivation. They provide much-needed direction and purpose for working out and can yield dream results. They can be a wonderful tool for improving physical strength, fitness, health and self-discipline, amongst other things.
However, failing to achieve goals can be deflating, to say the least, leaving us feeling less confident, less optimistic and less capable than when we started.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Will Durant.
Much like a home is built in stages, good health is achieved in a series of steps and goals. By creating habits to support our fitness goals, we can set ourselves up for success. Making these small lifestyle changes can help us to smash fitness goals as well as make positive, lasting changes to our health.
So firstly, let’s take a look at what goes wrong when it comes to fitness goals…
Why fitness goals fail.
Before kicking off any fitness or training program with a specific goal, it’s important to understand why even those of us with the best intentions fall short. By acknowledging the risks to achieving our goal, we can devise a more effective plan to mitigate them. The key reasons fitness goals go unmet are:
– Having unrealistic/unachievable goals or expectations.
– Adopting an unsustainable training routine (getting burned out).
– Being constrained by time or an inflexible schedule.
– Lacking motivation or losing interest.
– Lacking accountability for making progress.
– Feelings of insecurity, fear or discomfort at the gym.
– Uncertainty around workouts/training program.
We all experience each of these from time to time, but it’s important to know how to manage them before they derail your progress. Below we’ve outlined three steps to help guide you through setting and realising your fitness goals.
1. Choose the right goal.
Set a realistic goal which is challenging, but achievable.
This will be highly personalised so give it a fair bit of consideration. Make sure it’s something you can fit into your schedule and won’t be overly inconvenient. By incorporating activities you enjoy doing, you’re more likely to avoid losing interest. Consider why the goal is important to you. What does it mean for you to achieve it? (Keep this in mind on days when motivation is waning.)
When deciding on a goal, start small and focus on one at a time. You want your goal to be challenging but still attainable, so make sure it’s appropriate for your current fitness and activity level. You can even break bigger goals down into smaller milestones. You’ll gain confidence from achieving the smaller milestones and feel encouraged to keep progressing towards your ultimate goal.
You could opt for a goal which is process-oriented rather than outcome-oriented, e.g., instead of wanting to lose 10 kilograms, you might go for working out three days per week or walking 10,000 steps each day. These goals are focused on the process to reach a specific outcome, rather than the outcome itself.
Ensure your goal is specific, measurable and on a timeline. This means a clear, defined goal, of which your progress can be tracked, and achievable within a specified timeframe. This will help you to create a clear plan for conquering it.
Just by setting a thoughtful, considered goal, you’ll eliminate many of those aforementioned sources of failure.
2. Create habits to support your goal.
Create a lifestyle that backs your goals, not blocks them.
But don’t think of it as a major overhaul. Small changes are your best friend. Those one-percenters add up over time to yield big rewards. Constructive daily habits foster the consistency, discipline and productivity necessary to achieve goals.
So, examine your goal and break it down into small, manageable habits which will help you to reach it. This includes swapping your existing habits for healthier ones (which can take some self-reflection).
Some examples might be:
– Laying your gym clothes out before you go to bed at night.
– Making yourself a nice coffee before heading to the gym.
– Preparing a healthy lunch for work each day.
– Meal prepping on Sundays for the week ahead.
– Carrying a water bottle around with you.
– Going to bed at the same time each night.
Slowly integrate them into your life – no overnight upheavals. Too many changes too soon can add stress and anxiety, which can become overwhelming and make them unsustainable.
Integrating these habits slowly will help you to establish a routine. Routines are the secret weapon for achieving goals. People find comfort in routines because they give us a sense of control, purpose and accomplishment; they can improve our focus, organisation and productivity, and allow us to find time for well-earned self-care and leisure (and the ability to enjoy it).
A routine defined by good habits will make working out automatic. This means you’re more likely to stay consistent, even when your interest and motivation wane. Consistency is number one when it comes to yielding results.
3. Embrace the process and reflect on your progress.
Remember that progress takes time.
A huge part of the process is accepting that and embracing the ups and downs which go with it. Accept that your motivation will wane from time to time and you will feel challenged, but remember these discomforts are necessary for growth. Keep focused on your goal, the bigger picture, and practise discipline (a skill that totally gets better with practice).
Some days you’ll need a song or two to get you fired up for training, some days you’ll be putting one foot in front of the other, and some days you just won’t get there. There’s no need for an ‘all or nothing’ approach. Don’t let slip-ups derail your overall progress, as consistency over time is what matters most. A skipped workout here and there won’t affect your overall progress, so long as your day off doesn’t turn into a week off. Always pay attention to your body and remember to rest when you need it.
Celebrate your wins and reflect on the progress you’ve made (even before achieving your goal). No doubt you’ll feel the benefits of exercise in the form of endorphins, more energy, better sleep and decreased anxiety, but you’ll also be encouraged to keep going by seeing improvements in your fitness. Reward your hard work with things you enjoy, like warm baths, TV shows or new clothes.
When you do achieve your goal, evaluate how it went. Was it too ambitious or too easy? Where did you struggle most? What can be improved next time? This will help to guide your future training goals.
Being able to establish good habits will set you up for success in your health and fitness journey, and other areas of life. By choosing an appropriate goal, supporting your progress with fruitful habits, and accepting the setbacks and discomforts of the challenge, you’ll be able to reach your goals and make positive, lasting changes to your health and lifestyle.
Are you ready to smash your 2023 goals and build some sustainable fitness habits? Our upcoming Sista Lifestyle Challenge is the PERFECT way to kickstart your new “you”, with a community of supportive women by your side. All you have to do is register via our SF App to sign-up, attend 4 days EVERY 7 days, for 4 weeks.