It’s summer – a great time to get in shape! The sun is out, the days are long, and you don’t have the wintery problem of having to transition between wearing 18,000 layers pre-workout to a single layer while working out. But, what does getting in shape look like for you? Setting fitness goals can be difficult, so, let’s take a look at how to set fitness goals and then look at some examples!
All goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed).
Be specific when making goals. Specific goals help us decide what it is we truly want out of an experience, helping us to effectively concentrate our energy. They also help us to kick-start the process of forming a plan. So, how should you make specific goals? A fun way to determine if your goals are specific enough. Think of all those scenarios in kids’ books where a seemingly-kind genie tells the main character “I’ll grant you whatever wish you’d like”. With blind trust, the character wishes for something innocent only for the genie to twist the wish around, like some sort of Simpsonian doughnut gag. If your goal is vague enough for a genie make it into a diabolical alternative, it probably isn’t specific enough. If your goal was simply ‘lose weight’, a genie might interpret it as an invitation to remove something like the entirety of your skin (after all, you’d lose about 20 pounds if you got rid of it). Instead try something like ‘reduce body fat by 2% by going to a H.I.I.T. FIT class twice a week’. Change ‘get fit’ to ‘gain muscle by adding in a weight-lifting routine twice a week’ or ‘increase a miles’ run time by adding an extra mph each week of training’. Define what it is that you want so you can focus on actions that will further progress towards that one thing.
* A quick note on the specificity of your plans: have an detailed idea of what you want to do, but be willing to be flexible. Be understanding and forgiving towards yourself . You won’t always be able to follow a certain path towards your goals; sometimes you won’t be able to follow your goals at all – that’s OK! Remember, one off day (or even a couple) doesn’t mean that you won’t ever reach your goal. Just never give up!
Make your goals measurable in a quantifiable, reliable way. Say your goal was to ‘get better at running’. That might not be a very good goal unless there are some measurements to compliment it, like ‘improve running time’ (which can definitively be linked to a certain amount of minutes and mph).
Be realistic. Aim for the the stars, by all means, don’t push yourself past your limits. Don’t tell yourself that you’re going to run a 5k next month if you’ve never jogged before. Don’t tell yourself that you’re going to work out every single day if you’ve never worked out before. By setting ourselves up for goals that are so far beyond our current reach, we set ourselves up for disappointment. We might end up feeling like we’re a failure because we didn’t reach a far-fetched ideal even if we hit significant milestones. Ditch ‘all-or-nothing’ concepts and focus on your own personal growth. It’s also important to mention that trying to push yourself past where your body is can result in injury – we don’t want to throw our backs out, tear a muscle, or twist anything during our efforts. Goals can change, so, once we accomplish more at the level we’re at, we can reshape our goals for the next level.
Give your goals a deadline. “Someday” is a phrase that is the enemy of mankind.
In addition, start now! If we say ‘tomorrow’ then we have to know that tomorrow is only the next ‘today’. There will never be a day that isn’t ‘today’. Don’t put off your dreams! Get started as soon as you can!
Acknowledge the hurdles
In the same way that setting overly-high standards can lead to disappointment, not thinking about the difficulties associated with a goal can lead to hurdles feeling more difficult when you come across them. Acknowledge that what you want to do might be sort of hard. After all, it’ll be something new and new stuff is always tricky at first. Plan around predicted struggles. If you’ll have to schedule a workout between two events in a day, pack a gym bag to ensure you have everything you need to get spiffed up ASAP. If you’re traveling and won’t have access to your normal space and equipment, try finding exercises that will meet your needs while staying within your limitations (like hotel room workouts).
Don’t underestimate the toughness of a workout, but know that you’ve got the power to pull through anything!
Examples of Goals
Don’t let physical fitness stop at the gym
Physical fitness is an extremely broad area. Taking care of our bones/heart/muscles isn’t the only part of physical fitness. So, don’t let efforts to improve your health stop at the gym. Try striving for other parts of physical fitness and set goals like ‘eat more nutritiously’, ‘stop smoking’, or ‘sleep more’. There’s a million and one things to try in order to facilitate your physical health – don’t be afraid to try them all!
Good luck, Eagles! We know you can do it!
– University Wellness