Fitness can be a stressful undertaking. You will find yourself spending more money on food, spending more time cooking and spending 3 or more hours a week working out. All these new changes are something that you have to fit into the same 24 hours you are already utilizing. It’s a daunting process. Taking on all these new changes at once causes a lot of people to fall off the fitness wagon and go back to their fast-food binge days without exercise, but this doesn’t have to be you. All you have to do is break the process down into small goals that you can carry out every day.
Setting SMART Goals
The key to achieving any difficult task is to set goals. Setting arbitrary goals won’t get you far, your goals must be applicable to you and reasonable to carry out; these are called SMART goals. The term SMART goals is an acronym and it means that your goals must be:
S – Specific: Must be clearly outlined, defined, detailed, and meaningful to you;
M – Measurable: Must be quantifiable. Must be possible to measure progress or completion;
A – Attainable: Goal must be achievable and realistic. A goal that is far beyond your means or logic is self-sabotage;
R – Relevant: Your goal has to do with what you specifically want and need; not anyone else;
T – Time Based: Your goal has a deadline;
If your goals fit all these parameters, then you are setting yourself up for success. In the beginning of your fitness journey, it may even be worth adding another stipulation to your goals, and that is: to make them small. Setting small goals, in the beginning, will have tsunami-sized implications in your confidence because you will get used to the feeling of success and it will help you pick up momentum faster. This boosted confidence will also serve you if you hit a plateau, which everyone does, eventually. Now that you know how to properly set goals, we can discuss some hurdles that derail most would-be fitness enthusiasts.
Set Goals to Improve Your Diet
The biggest pain point when it comes to getting back in shape is diet. You will have to spend more time in the kitchen measuring, cooking, and then packing your food than you may have in the past. Trying to become a food prep aficionado overnight will only give you high blood pressure, and not the kind from high sodium food. Take improving your diet in small chunks and you will have far greater results. An example of this is breaking down the goal to drink a gallon of water per day into drinking 2 containers (typically 24 ounces for most brands) per day. This fits all the qualifications of SMART goals, but it’s also a small goal that you can achieve in 2 short weeks of practice. You should also plan for consistency Instead of always looking to increase the size of your goals; this will make scaling easier.
You should also set food goals. Your food goals should be centered around eating the food you have prepped and reducing the amount of junk or fast food in your diet. Instead of focusing on what foods to avoid: focus on what foods are good for you. This will give making better food choices a positive connotation rather than a negative. For instance: set goals that 3 of the 4 meals you eat per day were food that you prepared. This will put you at a 75% adherence rate, which is a great start! Over time, aspire to either eat all your meals as the food you have prepared or eat more organic or nutrient-dense sources.
Plan on Doing Your Workouts
There’s no point in a perfectly balanced routine that sits in a notebook somewhere. Plan on actually doing the workouts that are written for you. Whether you created your own routine or a trainer helped you, a program is useless unless you take the time to carry it out. Plan to adhere to your routine at least 70% your first month. If your program calls for 3 times a week, set a goal to complete 8 workouts per month. After you can do that for a couple of months, try to do 9, then 10, then aim to complete all of your workouts every month. Obviously, you can’t always have 100% adherence, and I even recommend taking a rest day if you feel tired or worn down from time to time. Just don’t overdo the rest days.
Stay off Your Phone at Night and Get Sleep
The strain that exercising puts on your muscles and nervous system must be maintained and repaired through the mechanism of sleep. Your body will not rebuild muscle while you’re awake, only while you are sleep. This makes sleep critical to achieving your ideal results from any exercise program. If you are like most streaming service watchers around the world: you’re likely going to bed at 2 am after you feel ashamed to have stayed up so late and then waking up at 7:00 am groggy and disoriented. Don’t do this to yourself. Strive to get at least 7 hours a night for 3 weeks before setting a higher goal. Eight to 9 hours per night seems to be the sweet spot for optimum recovery.
Most people find this hard to get used to because they have gotten accustomed to not getting enough sleep. The increase of hours will feel natural over time and you will see the significant difference a good night rest brings.
Set goals in these basic disciplines and you will find that not only do you feel better about your program, but your increased health will help you feel better about yourself.