The 5-letter word that spells setting successful health and fitness goals
You’ve decided now is the time to be stronger, healthier, fitter and happier. High-five!
How can you take that decision and make it a reality – and a success too?
The key to setting – and attaining – your health and fitness goals comes down to one word: SMART. It also helps to have patience and persistence: after all, fitness and health aren’t achieved overnight.
What is a SMART goal you ask?
- Smart goals are:Specific and Measurable
Let’s look at how this works in a bit more detail:.
‘I want to get fitter’: This is a noble, but vague, goal
A better, more specific, goal is ‘I want to improve my fitness and I’ll do this by exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, three times a week.’
‘I want to get in shape’ is another ambiguous goal. There is no way to measure it. You need a goal that provides a clear assessment of your progress.
Imagine saying ‘My goal is to complete a 10km charity fun run’. If you’ve not exercised at all, let alone jogged, and it’s two weeks out from the event, your chance of achieving this goal and meeting your expectations are reduced. If you aim for that goal a couple of months out and work up to it, with mini-goals along the way—such as walking a couple of kilometres, and then walking the 5km course, building up to a walk-jog, a jog and finally a run—you will achieve your goal and be proud of what you have accomplished leading to so much more.
Weight loss is commonly fraught with unachievable goals. ‘I want to lose 10kg in one week’ is neither realistic nor healthy. “I want to lose 10kg and I’ll aim to lose 500g to 1kg per week’ is achievable.
Quick fixes are not responsible. You want to start playing and stay playing. Encouraging participation for life, is what we are all about.
Saying ‘I will go to the pool every day’ is not a SMART goal. It’s not specific—are you actually going to do laps, or loll in the water? It doesn’t say how long you’ll swim? It doesn’t take account for cold weather. And it doesn’t consider your muscles actually needing time out between sessions.
Set a deadline to reach your ultimate goal and include mini-goals to get you going and staying on track. For example, ‘I will start walking at night’ could become ‘I will start walking 30 minutes at night every Tuesday’.
More handy hints
- Set a goal that is important and meaningful for you. You’re doing this for yourself.
- Tell at least one person about your goal. Just speaking it gives a sense of accountability: you’re in it for real!
- Keep a training diary to monitor your progress.
- Celebrate mini successes along the way.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you come unstuck. It’s not the end of the world. Think of it as a speed bump to get over and keep moving forward.
- See your doctor for a medical check-up before commencing a new fitness program.
Making any lifestyle change can be challenging. By having a SMART health and fitness goal, you have something to work towards, you have motivations to stay on track and a means of measuring how well you are doing.