Friday, 15 February 2008

Setting your fitness goals: How to get motivated....and stay that way.

Walk, Don't Run, originally uploaded by vortistic.
Photo: Courtesy Flickr.

Here at Baysidemama, we are very lucky to have expert personal fitness trainer Tinika Van Dort write for us. Tinika has been training people for 15 years and has much experience helping people, including many Mums, set fitness goals and stick to them. Below is Tinika's guide to setting a fitness plan for the New Year.

Health and Fitness Goal Setting

There are no surprises to hear that one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight and get fit. If we all are honest, we can probably recount a time in our past where this New Year’s resolution was one of our very own.

If you are trying to improve your fitness, lose a little weight, change your eating habits or make general lifestyle improvements then it is important to set realistic goals and monitor and re-evaluate your progress throughout your journey.

With this in mind, listed below are some considerations when setting your health and fitness goals. Individuals who plan ahead are more likely to succeed than those who don’t have a plan to follow.

Goal setting principles

1. Determine your goal and write it down.

  • The most import thing to remember when goal setting is to be realistic and set goals which are important to you, not anybody else.
  • Determine what is achievable for you right now and write this goal down.
  • Be very specific with your goal, don’t make a general statement. For example don’t say you want to lose weight - write down exactly how many kilograms you want to lose.
  • Remember it is important to set goals which you can measure, monitor and reevaluate throughout your journey.

2. Work out the best way for you to achieve this goal.

When determining your goal it is important to design a plan to achieve that goal. Without a plan you are a greater risk of failing to meet your goal. Different goals require different approaches. Let’s use an example of losing 5kg and look at some effective strategies to achieve this:

  • Aim to exercise for at least 30+ minutes on all or most days of the week.
  • Choose aerobic activities such as walking which will aid you in burning more calories.
  • Make improvements to your diet - cut back on junk food and increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, include low-fat dairy products and wholegrain foods in your daily diet.

3. Break down your goal into steps.

Individuals who break their goal down in to steps are more likely to reach it. In doing this it is also important to remember to set a reasonable time frame to achieve your goal.

Consider your exercise routine a step towards achieve your goal. For example, one step might be to exercise on all or most days of the week. Steps should be set for every week or every fortnight. The more steps you have in place, the more motivated you will become.

4. Regularly monitor your progress.

Decide how you are going to monitor your progress and record every detail in a training diary. Some suggestions include:

  • If you are exercising to lose weight, keep track of your weight loss.
  • Measure your progress in specific ways. For example, if you weight train, write down the weights and repetitions for each exercise during your training session.
  • Choose the most appropriate ways to measure your progress. Bathroom scales don’t distinguish between muscle and fat, therefore it is more effective to take your measurements with a tape measure.
  • Write down your progress at set intervals such as once a week.
  • Always remember to celebrate your progress.

5. Be positive and adapt your goals to fit changing circumstances.

A busy life and changing circumstances will interrupt your training routine. Some things for you to consider include:

  • Plan strategies to cope with interruptions. For example, when on holidays you may not be able to train as you do at home however you can always walk or use the hotel fitness facilities.
  • Don’t abandon your goal if you are ill or injured. Instead, adjust the time frame and approach of your goal. For example if you can’t exercise make sure your eating habits are improved.
  • If you achieve your goal earlier than expected, stay motivated and set another goal.

6. Make your goals known to others.

Support from family and friend can go along way to helping you achieve your goals. Remember to share your goals with your network that will support you. If you are not getting the support you require from various individuals, stay clear of them!

7. Don’t be hard on yourself

At times you may find that your goal is too ambitious. Some things to consider:

  • The first few months of a new program are always the most challenging. Adjust your short-term goals (steps), persist and remember that things will get easier.
  • Always celebrate your achievements - no matter how small. Revisit your goal and appreciate how far you’ve come.
  • Don’t give up and always celebrate the steps you achieve. You are worth the effort.

Good luck – it is a new year….what have you got to lose?

Note: Always see your doctor for a medical check-up before undertaking any new fitness program, especially if you are over 40 years, overweight, haven’t exercised in a long time or suffer from a chronic medical condition. If you are unsure how to best achieve your particular goals, ask an expert. This may including seeing your doctor, consulting an exercise physiologist, physiotherapist or appropriately qualified and certified personal trainer.

Tinika has been a personal trainer for 15 years. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physical Education, a Graduate Certificate in Sports Nutrition and a Masters in Sports Business.

If you'd like more fitness tips or want to know what's coming up on Baysidemama, email us at:

No comments: