SMART Fitness: Realistic Exercise Goals for a Healthy Future

We’re now entering the third full week of January, and unfortunately, that means a substantial percentage of those who set dietary and fitness goals for their New Year’s resolution have already fallen off the wagon. The majority of them can attribute their failure to having set goals that are unorganized, incalculable or outright unrealistic.

The key is to set realistic goals that fall in line with something known as “SMART” fitness. As you may have guessed, SMART is not just an appropriate adjective, but an anagram. It stands for:

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely

We’ll talk a bit more about what that means, and how to set fitness goals that fall in line with each of those attributes.

SMART Fitness Goals

Specific: The term specific applies to goals that have clear and definable actions and timelines, such as ‘how much’ weight one expects to lose, and ‘how often’ one intends to exercise. Rather than setting a goal of “losing weight in 2016”, one should be more specific, such as “lose 50 pounds in 2016”, or “lose two inches off my waistline in 2016”. Just make sure that the goal coheres with the Attainable and Realistic segments of SMART.

Measurable: Setting a goal to lose 50 pounds, or two inches of waistline, is a measurable achievement. One can step on the scales or use a cloth tape measure to follow their progress. Having a specific number in mind builds confidence each time you get closer to that goal, whereas just hoping to lose weight in general provides no “finish line”, so to speak.

Attainable: Make sure that your fitness goals are consistent with your resources and ability to achieve them. If you have children and a full-time job, you may not be able to donate enough of your time to finishing a triathlon before the year is out, but you can certainly work towards finishing a 5k or 10k marathon.

Realistic: Like attainability, Realistic fitness goals are paramount to success. If you’re looking to lose weight, experts agree that losing 1-2 pounds per week is a salubrious amount to sustain health. Losing 10 pounds a week may be possible for some people, but it is not considered healthy, nor is it realistic for the average person.

Timely: Long-term goals are great, but short-term goals are just as important. Each goal achieved should be a celebratory boost to your confidence. If you want to lose 50 pounds in 2016, you’ll need to lose about 1 pound per week. That is a very realistic goal, and the ability to measure that short-term success leads to a much greater chance of long-term success.

When you put the entire SMART Fitness plan together, you discover that setting smaller, realistic and attainable goals will help you sustain enthusiasm and encouragement towards the bigger, specific goals you’ve set. But it’s not just about achieving the goals, but altering the way you look at yourself, and the world around you.

Consuming too many calories one day is not the end of the world. Missing a day at the gym won’t destroy everything you’ve worked towards. Everyone messes up now and again – it’s how you handle the occasional mess-up that defines your future success.

Some look at it as the beginning of certain failure, causing them to lose confidence and give up on their goals. But those who understand it’s okay to have a bad day now and again can jump right back on the wagon and achieve ultimate success.

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