Health and fitness have always been a relatively important aspect of my life. When I was younger was very active in martial arts, which kept me moving and focused on my personal fitness levels. I moved from that focus to being in the Canadian Armed Forces, where the prospect of being on course, and completing fitness tests, combined with forced fitness time on courses, was enough to keep you moving even when you may not have necessarily wanted to at the time.
Unfortunately, I left the army due to some serious health concerns in my life. This not only meant that I lost the motivation factor of the army, but a number of surgeries later I have found myself having gained a significant amount of weight, and far from the once fit person I was.
As I have previously disclosed on this blog, I struggled with my relationship with food, and gaining weight definitely didn’t help this problem! My view of myself, and my body plummeted and I hit an all time low. This time of ‘rock bottom’ was not just a bad thing in my life though, there are many good things I have taken from it… It was during this time that I discovered who my true friends were, the people who have never left my side through the struggles of the hard times. This has also ushered in an opportunity in my life – the opportunity to start over and re-examine my view of how physical fitness fits into my life…
I feel like in the past, fitness was something you just did because you had to. I didn’t DISLIKE working out, although I will admit that it wasn’t always easy to work into my schedule, but it was something you just found time for. This time through I really want to take the time to examine WHY I’m working out, and find activities not only that I can bring myself to do, but activities I genuinely enjoy.
So, with that revelation, I am going to add another topic to the list of topics that you will find here on Alternatively Speaking. Starting with this blog I am going to begin to examine my fitness journey. I know I am not alone out there, and many of you are also struggling with getting yourself moving and finding the way to fit your fitness goals into your life, so let’s do this together!
My first fitness related blog – how to go about setting realistic fitness goals!
I know that many of us have been introduced to the concept of setting SMART goals in many areas of our lives – including at school and work – but have you applied this concept to your fitness goals? Often big, lofty goals are set, painting a picture in our minds of the checkered flag at the end, however, we forget to consider all the time, hard work, struggles and smaller steps along the way that will bring us there. It’s great to say you want to lose 50lbs, but that’s not going to happen overnight and if that is the only goal you are setting, there’s a good chance that you are going to become bored and frustrated along the way. Instead, apply this five-step method to your goal setting…
S is for “Specific”
Your goals need to be clear and written down. Don’t just say you want to get fit, or you want to lose weight. There is no way to know when you reach those goals, and the lack of a finish line can wreck havoc on your motivation! Instead, set clearly defined goals like “I want to lose 15lbs, at a rate of 1lb per week”. This not only gives you the larger finish line of 15lbs, but the smaller 1lb per week goal will allow you to focus on the smaller steps one at a time that lead you there.
M is for “Measurable”
Not only should your goals be specific, providing you with the finish line and the mile markers to strive for, but you should set a measurable timeline on them. Instead of leaving your goal at “I want to lose 15lbs” try adding an end date for this. Such as, I want to lose 15lbs in 4 months. This will allow you to track how you are doing on your way to your goal. You may also choose smaller aspects of your goals, such as wanting to be able to run 5K without having to stop and walk. Maybe you looked at a program that states it can get you there in 8 weeks. Then setting the goal of being able to run 5K in 8 weeks is a measurable goal.
A is for “Action-Oriented”
Once you have set a specific and measurable goal, it’s time to move to the next step which is discussing the steps that you are going to take to get there. Returning to the above running goal, if your goal is to be able to run 5K in 8 weeks, then break down what it will take for you to get there. Maybe you are going to make a point of running 3 days each week, for 30 minutes at a time, following the plan that you discovered online. Are you planning on running outside or inside on the treadmill? Do you have all the gear that you will need to take these steps?
R is for “Realistic”
While it may be tempting to set a HUGE goal, such as losing 50lbs, don’t set yourself up for failure right out of the gate. It would be completely unrealistic to expect yourself to lose that 50lbs in a matter of 2 months. Remember that the healthy rate of weight loss for the average person is 1-2lbs each week! Setting realistic goals, and many small ones will allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment as you hit each goal, working towards the big, ultimate goal at the end! This sense of accomplishment is going to be the key to keeping your motivation and excitement rolling.
T is for “Timed”
In setting your measurable goals you have already looked at the idea of setting deadlines for each of the steps that you are setting forth. This is important, as these little deadlines are going to help to keep you on track. Don’t set vague timelines, such as ‘in a month’ but rather something firm and detailed, such as stating you will reach this goal by August 1st. Remember, as just discussed, you need to be realistic when choosing these timelines, don’t set yourself up to fail before you even get up and moving!
Track, Track, Track!!!!
This is all just talk if you don’t put pencil to paper! Whether you plan on using a journal, a calendar or a chart, you need to pick a way to record and track your efforts. Personally, I am a huge fan of having a calendar as it shows everything in terms of the dates that I am hoping to reach each step along the way, and I can cross of dates as I move through them. This is a personal decision. You want to reach your goals, and in order to do so, you need to encourage and motivate yourself. Try out a few methods if you feel that you need to!
I strongly believe in the value of rewarding yourself as your reach goals along the way. Once you have your SMART goals set, assign small rewards for each of your measurable goals. Hint: Avoid food goals… You don’t want to associate succeeding with cheating on your efforts, this isn’t going to help you reach your goals, and it isn’t going to help you have a healthy relationship with food! Some great examples of rewards include:
- Manicure or pedicure
- New workout outfit
- An outing such as a concert or a movie
- Get at tattoo (this definitely needs to be one of mine!)
- Something you have been lusting over, such as a new pair of shoes
- An item from your Pinterest boards
- New phone (bigger goal)
- New book, and take a relaxing reading day
- Day trip with your best friend
Are you currently working towards fitness goals of your own? What tricks do you use to motivate yourself?