Every year, most of us make a promise to ourselves or set a fitness related goal along the lines of “I will lose weight before Summer” or “I’m going to get fit this season”. Let’s all have an honest moment and evaluate how successful we have been in achieving these? Firstly, congratulations for making the first step – having that positive mindset and target driven focus to know you actually want to achieve something is brilliant. Unfortunately, time in time out setting those sorts of unspecific goals leads to failure at achieving them. Setting unrealistic and unplanned goals (such as I’m going to lose a stack of weight by end of September) will inadvertently set yourself up for a potential failure – what is a “stack of weight”, is “end of September” a reasonable time frame? Failing at goals/targets often makes us lash out with more unhealthy behaviours and bad-decisions – sort of beating ourselves up for not being successful – recognise this pattern – “Damn i didn’t lose any weight, I might as well eat this whole large pizza”. This cycle of creating unrealistic goals, failing, acting out against the failure creates a merry-go-round of non-achievement and essentially pushes you further and further away from your target. So, let’s STOP THIS CYCLE NOW. What we want to make clear in this blog is how to be SMART when assessing your goals and how to succeed with them. There are 5 main steps you need to follow when trying to set your realistic and attainable goals- if you stick to these, you will 100% achieve as planned
S = Specific. This means that every goal that you make should clearly be defined. Rather than saying “I want to lose weight” try making it more specific by saying for example, “I want to lose 5kgs across the next 3 months before Summer arrives”.
M = Measurable. What this means is that you should be able to clearly measure and track your progress. By creating a goal saying “I want to increase my fitness” gives no clear way to asses your progress. In order to re-frame the above goal so that it is measurable, start by measuring your fitness levels to begin with. Then you can determine a 6 week goal based on the initial data. E.g If you start out by only being able to do 10 burpees in 30 seconds, a measurable and realistic 6 week goal would be to complete around 15 burpees in 30 seconds, without breaks.
A = Attainable. Before you can add numbers on how many KJs you want to lose, you have to know how high or low you want to go. It’s good to ‘aim for the stars’, but don’t be too extreme. Likewise, a goal that is too easy is also not very motivating. Only you know your limits. With the goal set in mind that you “Will lose weight”, what percentage is attainable for you. Research suggests that a 5-10% weight loss is attainable for most overweight people in a certain amount of time (e.g. 2 months) A measurable, attainable goal could be “I will lose 7% of my body weight within an 8 week period”
R = Realistic. When it comes to losing weight, we all tend to want the unrealistic and typically unhealthy quick fix. Try not to set unattainable health goals that aren’t relevant to you in this time in your life. Choose something that is motivating you and that you are concerned about. Rather than setting the unachievable goal such as “I want to lose 5 kg in 10 days” instead, aim to lose half a kilogram a week. Attempting to lose weight faster than this is quite unhealthy and will only lead to failure and disappointment.
T = Time- bound. Include an end point. Knowing that you have a deadline motivates you to get started. Since healthy weight loss is about 0.5-1kg per week, set your deadline accordingly. For the example of “I will lose weight” you could use 2 months. “I will lose 6kg of my body weight in 2 months”.
Here are a few more examples of action- orientated SMART goals:
- I will walk 5 days every week for 30 minute each.
- I will drink water instead of soft drink every day this week.
- I will bring my lunch to work instead of eating out 4 days this week.
Remember that there are no quick fixes when it comes to fitness. Setting realistic goals and making an effort to attain your goal is a solid way to develop the healthy habits that will help you achieve long- term success.