How to: Achieve Your Fitness Goals & Stay On Track
Getting Fit CAN Be EASY!
At the top of any list of goals for the year is get in shape. Most people find out this is much easier said then done, especially once the busy days start coming. School, work, family events, and fun activities get in the way of any fitness/health goals.
Many people don't realize 'getting fit' can be easy to fit into any schedule. There are a large amount of programs online that are tailored to people with busy lives, and many gyms are open 24-hours for people who work later but still want to get a workout in.
Something important to remember though is fitness is a lifestyle, not a fad or trend.
Make S.M.A.R.T Fitness Goals
S.M.A.R.T stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic,Timely. Making a SMART goal is key to making and achieving any goal, fitness or not.
A specific goal is one that answers the questions - Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
- For example: "Who" could be you. "What" could be lose 24 pounds. "Where" could be at home or in the gym. "When" could be three days a week. "Why" could be to fit into a dress for a party or wedding.
So it would look like: "I want to lose 24 pounds so I can fit into this dress for a party in three months. I can go to the gym three times a week."
A measurable goal is one that you can track the progress of and know when you have obtained said goal.
Ask: How will you know you've obtained your fitness goal?
- Weight lost, repetitions/sets done with a certain weight, steps walked, miles ran, etc
An attainable goal is one that you are actually able to achieve. It should make you grow, be something you are passionate about, and have the ability to actually do.
- Losing 20 pounds in one week (unattainable) vs Losing 20 pounds in 30 days (attainable)
A timely goal is one that is set on a timetable. A specific amount of time should be used to measure progress and spur motivation to get it done.
- Squat 290 lbs by July 23 is a timely goal
Tip: Write down the S.M.A.R.T. goal and find an accountability partner
Find A Program That You Enjoy
There are hundreds of different fitness options out there for people who don't want to go to a typical gym and workout for an hour. There is Pilates, Yoga, cycling classes, kickboxing, martial arts, recreation centers that offer sports, and the list goes on and on.
And if being around other people doesn't sound appealing, there are many programs that can be done exclusively at home, though these require a lot of self-discipline and hard work to follow through on. Having a friend who can do it as well is always recommended, and can actually make it a lot more fun!
Do some research and find something that makes working out interesting!
Remember It Takes Time, Effort, And Patience
People are always looking for that "quick fix" that can get them six pack abs in a week. Some believe that doing a grueling three hour cardio session one day will give them that slim body they've been dreaming of for ages.
Companies all over the world promise to help people achieve their dream body in a short amount of time without having to change diet or activity level. They claim that anyone can chow down on a super-sized Burger King Whopper meal on your couch, take a magic pill, and still achieve sculpted abs or a slim waist. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. It takes effort and time to fix the damage a poor diet and lack of physical activity causes on the body. Not all bodies are alike either; fitness and diets are not 'one-size-fits-all'. Working with a doctor or someone who is a certified expert can lead to the best results.
One of the worst things anyone can do to their body is take away needed food. Many people try cutting out meals to shave off pounds, which does work at first, but leads to a deficiency of needed nutrients in the body, fatigue, body dysphoria/eating disorders, and binge eating junk food. Dropping weight or building muscle should always be done slowly and carefully to keep the body functioning properly and safely.
The key to a healthy diet is portion control and discipline. After all, there is a such thing as too much of a good thing. Eating five small meals a day, loaded with complex carbs, protein, and colorful vegetables can keep the metabolism going and fuel the body throughout the day, but everyone is different; consult a nutritionist/Registered Dietitian/physician for a plan that is tailored to goals and different body needs.
The schedule could look something like this:
- Meal 1: Breakfast
- Meal 2: mid morning snack (nuts, protein bar, fruit etc.)
- Meal 3: lunch
- Meal 4: mid afternoon snack
- Meal 5: Dinner
Another issue is people feel like they need to cut out all the bad food they eat and only eat really nutritious foods. This is great, but it can also cause issues and a bad relationship with food. Denial only makes the desire for the object stronger, which leads to eating a whole pack of Oreos at midnight after a day a good eating. Life is all about balance.
Make Simple Substitutes/Changes
Sometimes you just can not squeeze in a full workout session with the busy weeks you have. This is no reason to skip out on exercise all together! There are things you do in your daily life you can either replace with a healthier way, or tack on a workout to.
Maybe instead of using the elevator every day at work, you start taking the stairs. You could walk or bike to work instead of driving. If you're stuck at the desk for eight hours a day, get up and do some quick workouts to get a break from the screen and the chair. If you find your self standing around for most of your shift, do some quick calf raises or squats when you aren't too busy. If you think about it, you can squeeze a quick exercise into any job scenario.
Just be sure it's safe to do so.
As for nutrition, prepare a healthy breakfast, lunch, and some healthy snacks the night before. If your friends invite you out, don't feel like you need to turn them down; just try to find the healthiest option at the place you are going to. Bring large bottles of water with you and store them in the break room for later.
If you're in school, doing any of this can be a lot harder. A good suggestion is while you're sitting doing school work, quietly kick your legs or maybe try some calf raises. Anything that won't disrupt the class, but makes your heart rate pick up or your muscles ache. Pack your own lunch if possible, and bring snacks! Also, most schools allow you to have water with you in class, so take advantage of this. Make sure you participate in gym class! Work up a sweat. You can always shower later!
Another option - however unpopular - is waking up earlier than you normally do for school or work and working out. Whether that's going to your 24-hour gym or going for a run, getting active in the morning not only wakes you up, it pumps serotonin and endorphins into your blood stream. This improves your mood, making you feel happier as you go about your day. Plus, exercise is great for thinking and memory retention.
Just Do It!
It can be hard; being motivated to do workouts can be extremely hard. Some days you jump out of bed ready to go on a morning jog- other days you roll over and slam the snooze button five times. Each day brings its own challenges.
The only thing you can do on days like that is force yourself to drive out to the gym, or open your laptop; whatever your choice exercise program is.
The days you force yourself to do something you just aren't feeling can be some of the best workouts you'll ever do. You'll definitely thank yourself later in the day - and in life.
As mentioned previously, it's best to plan everything ahead. This helps eliminate excuses not to workout or eat healthy.
- If you're planning on going to the gym after work or school, for example, either wear your gym clothes (if appropriate!) or pack them in a gym bag and store it in your car/locker.
- Pack/prepare your meals and snacks the night before. Put them where you'll remember, or set a reminder on your phone. Don't leave them behind.
- When going to workout, write out what you're going to do and how long you will do it for. This eliminates wasting time thinking about it. Instead, just get in there and get it done.
- Make sure your headphones are packed with your clothes, wallet just in case, and that your phone is charged completely.
Don't Give Up!
It can be incredibly discouraging when you aren't getting the results you want right away. Just remember: the best projects took time to make. You WILL get there eventually.
Don't let your doubts, or people around you discourage you. Surround yourself with like minded people, plug in the headphones, and grind.
Beating yourself up over no results will get you nowhere, so just keep going! Don't let anyone tell you no!
My Recommendation: Ideal Shape Up 12-Week Challenge
© 2016 Caitlyn Booth