There’s just something about the turning of the calendar that makes us think about goals and lifestyle changes. And that’s a good thing. It’s very useful to take a few moments to re-evaluate what you want life to look like (and what you want YOU to look like) in the coming year. As most of us think about goals in the next few weeks, setting SMART goals will help us be able to succeed in our resolutions.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, with Target-dates- it’s an acronym that applies to everything from business plans to fitness, because it works really well.
For example: If Cathy writes a simple “lose weight” down as a New Year’s Resolution – it’s highly likely that it’ll be summertime before she realizes that she still hasn’t made any progress on it- because she didn’t say HOW she was going to get there.
Or maybe Brian has written “start running again” as his resolution for the past three years- but again, he never says HOW he’s going to do that. Without a plan, it’s hard to make your goal a reality.
Here’s how to set SMART fitness goals and set yourself up for success this year:
So first off- you need to SET a goal. Write it down. Use a Sharpie. THIS is my goal. This is what I am going to do this year.
For fitness goals it really helps to talk to a fitness professional (Certified Personal Trainer). A trainer will know if your goal is realistic, help you decide which steps to take to reach that goal, and help you break the goal into smaller goals.
Especially with Resolutions, people tend to set unrealistic goals- trying to lose 30 lbs in two months, while perhaps Specific, is not only unrealistic, it’s unhealthy (we’ll talk more about this in a minute).
We hate to be the bearer of bad news- but weight is really not a good measurement tool. Weight is nothing more than how many pounds you weigh on a particular day. Your weight fluctuates throughout the day, the week, and especially the month. Weight depends a lot on how much you’ve eaten or drank that day- and, since muscle weighs more than fat, your weight will most likely go UP when you start working out. So, please toss the scale when make New Years’ goals. Instead- use measurements like BMI (Body Mass Index) calculated with reliable methods (not based on the scale) or personal measurements/ circumference (biceps, thighs, waist, hips are good places to start). If your goal has less to do with size and more to do with ability- like Brian’s running goal- set a goal of running a 10K, or X number of miles a week.
Ok, more bad news, if you saw it on a magazine cover in a checkout line, it’s probably not a realistic fitness goal. We’ve all seen the headlines “lose 15 lbs by next week by eating this ONE super food!” <- Not going to happen…
We live with constant bombardment of media messages, and it’s hard to sift through and figure out which messages are real. A TV show that pits overweight contestants against each other to see who can lose the most weight first- not a good idea, not real, and definitely not healthy (don’t believe us? Ask Google how many contestants kept the weight off). It may make for entertaining TV, but it doesn’t help people make realistic goals.
A Certified Personal Trainer will know what is healthy and feasible: Losing 30 lbs by Valentine’s isn’t an attainable goal, but perhaps reducing your BMI to a similar point by July would be- you don’t know till you talk to the expert.
The best way to have a Results Oriented goal is to have something Measurable. Another way to help with this is to break your goal into several smaller goals.
Back to our Brian example- he wants to start running, maybe he wants to do a half-marathon this year. Setting smaller goals of: being able to run a mile by Valentine’s Day, running a 5K in March, running a 10K in June, and then X miles by August, with a target of running that Half in early November- now that’s a goal!
You see what we did with that last example? Brian now has FIVE target dates. That gives him five different “checkpoints” to see how well he’s meeting his goal, or if he needs to adjust his goal.
With Cathy’s example of wanting to “lose weight,” breaking her goal into smaller goals of “reduce BMI by _% by March 1st, then __% by June 1st” gives her a solid idea of where she’s going. Dates are your friend when it comes to setting goals- how else will you know if you’re meeting those goals or not?
Something to remember as you’re setting fitness goals is that checkpoints work for you- if you get to a checkpoint and find that you’ve fallen short of what you’d hoped, this is where you can re-assess your goal and decide if it was reasonable in the first place. Maybe Cathy isn’t down the 2 pant sizes that she wanted by June, but she’s down a solid size and they fit great- she can still celebrate success even if she didn’t quite meet her expectations. “Checkpoints” are a great time to have a little party, give yourself a pep-talk, and keep heading for the next one. And sometimes you need a little more help to reach your goals than you’d originally anticipated- that’s ok too, and another great time to sit down with a trainer.
Each goal, and each checkpoint, should always be tailored to each INDIVIDUAL person.
Once you’ve set your SMART goal, put it somewhere you can see it often. Maybe write it down and post it on your mirror, put your goal in a little frame by your desk at work, or set it as your computer or smartphone background- keep it visible so it’s always top of mind!
If you want help making and reaching those SMART Goals- you know where to find us!
We wish you good health and a Happy New Year!
Columbia Basin Racquet Club