Are Your Fitness Goals Realistic?

Forget Failure. Set Yourself Up for Success!
-- By Jennipher Walters !ertifie" #ersonal $rainer % Fitness &nstructor
In life, we're told to dream big. Reach for the stars. Go for the gold. While I think everyone would agree that having big aspirations is admirable not to mention inspiring, you should take a more calculated approach when setting fitness goals. It may seem counterintuitive to start small, but remember that you want to set yourself up for success not burnout or injury. hink about it. !ow many times have you or someone you know set a huge goal to lose "# or more pounds, or e$ercise for an hour si$ days a week, only to fall off the wagon a few weeks %or days& later' he truth is that even when people have the best of intentions and the willpower to set out and do something grand, without a plan and a smart goal, they stumble(and are more likely to fail. When you first set a goal, you're full of energy and completely motivated, but over time those feelings can wane and your over)ealousness can push you to do too much too soon. he fi$ is to define a progressive set of fitness goals that build on one another to help propel you toward that big dream or aspiration. *reaking a big goal into smaller, realistic goals can help you both mentally and physically. his method can also help you improve your fitness level gradually and safely, which helps to build confidence. he first step to setting realistic goals is to really think about your goal and write it down. $hen as' yourself these three (uestions) smaller goalwithin your reach +. !ow big is the goal' Is your goal only attainable in three months or more' If so, make a or goals to get you to that long,term goal. Ideally, you should be able to reach the smaller goal in two to si$ weeks. -. What does it take to achieve the goal' his .uestion addresses your goal's fre.uency. If reaching your goal re.uires five workouts a week, but you can only get a babysitter two days a week, then you need to scale back your goal. *e realistic about what time you have to devote to the goal and be honest about your fitness level. *uilding your fitness base takes time, and being smart about increasing it will help you stay injury,free. /s a general rule, never increase your weight lifted or your minutes e$ercised by more than +# percent in any given week. 0low and steady really does win the race1 2. 3an you see yourself reaching the goal' 4ou want a program that you can stick with for the long haul(not just this week. *e completely honest with yourself and ask if you can realistically see yourself doing what it takes to achieve the goal at hand. If you can and it meets the above criteria, then you probably have a goal 1 ake a look at these common situations %and fi$es& that I've encountered as a personal trainer5

Unrealistic Goal for a *on-!o+petiti,e -.erciser) & /ant to co+plete an en"urance e,ent in t/o /ee's. 3ompetitive events are an e$cellent way to stay motivated and a great goal, but many triathlons and running races put a lot of wear and tear on the body, and if you do too much too soon %or without proper form or footwear&, you can get injured, which really puts a damper on your dreams and is just plain painful1 Realistic Goal) & /ill co+plete a shorter "istance en"urance e,ent li'e a 01 or sprint triathlon in three to si. +onths. If you want to begin participating in endurance events, it's important to start building your fitness base slowly and really listen to your body. If you can walk comfortably for at least -# minutes and can commit to working out four to five times a week for -# to 6# minutes, then a "7 training program is a great place to start. / run8walk program is fle$ible and lets you see results over the course of just a few weeks, which is both e$citing and motivational. 9lus, if you get into it and find that you really despise running or it makes your knees hurt, you can walk and still reach your goal instead of giving up after the first week. /dditionally, the time frame of two months is long enough( and the "7 itself is challenging enough(so reaching the goal is big enough to result in one of the best rewards of all5 bragging rights1 Unrealistic Goal for a Se"entary #erson) & /ant to go to the gy+ e,ery "ay. here are two main issues with this goal. :irst, it's not specific(what activities do you want to do and for how long' /fter all, just showing up at the gym doesn't accomplish anything unless you get your body moving. 0econd, it's not realistic. I love to work out and even I don't want to go to the gym every day. 9lus, taking a day off here and there helps give your muscles time to repair and rest, and it gives you a break mentally. Realistic Goal) & /ill 2e acti,e for at least 34 +inutes each "ay. While this goal isn't specific when it comes to the activity, it is specific and realistic with the time constraint. While going to an hourlong 0pinning class every day would be impossible, not to mention not very healthy for you %cross,training is important so that no specific groups of muscles get overused&, doing something active for +# minutes a day, whether it's a walk after work, some push,ups or sit,ups over lunch, or a full session at the gym or with a workout ;<;, is very doable. /lso, note the addition of =at least= in this goal, which helps to emphasi)e that +# minutes is just a minimum. >ver time, this goal could progress to have a minimum of +", then -#, then 2# minutes. Unrealistic Goal for a *o,ice -.erciser) & /ant to "o the /or'out & "i" in high school. If you used to play a sport competitively when you were younger and are itching to get back into it, beware. ?ost sports re.uire e$plosive and powerful movement that can give your body a rude awakening(such as e$treme soreness or injury(especially when you try to do something that you haven't done in years. @ven if you were the high school team captain, if you haven't practiced it in many years, start slowly and be cautious. Realistic Goal) & /ill +eet /ith a personal trainer once a /ee' for a +onth an" follo/ his or her strength routine t/o ti+es a /ee'. @ven if you were ?<9 of your team back in the day, a lot has changed in sports performance and workouts over the last few years. Instead of going out and doing the same old workout that you remember from high school, take the time to meet with a personal trainer who speciali)es in your sport or regularly works with athletes. !e or she can get you back in the sport saddle with a strength routine that prepares your body for competition and will help you prevent injury. / .ualified personal trainer will also help you set other realistic goals once you've built your foundation to play. %If you're not sure how to look for a personal trainer or what else you need to ask, read this.& 5on6t Forget to Re/ar" Yourself

9erhaps the most important component of setting an effective and realistic fitness goal is rewarding yourself when you reach your goals, even the small ones1 :rom buying yourself a new maga)ine to read, enjoying a long bath, or buying a new pair of workout shorts, the reward should be a time where you compliment yourself for your hard work and revel in your success. /lso, don't be afraid to tweak a goal as time goes by. Aife happens1 Remember, the key to setting yourself up for success is to be realistic. Bow, start setting those goals1

" :itness :eats that are Worth the raining 0mall *its of :itness /dd Cp Reach 4our :itness Goals1 @$ercise 0afety ips for *eginners " @$ercises 4ou 0hould Bever ;o Goals that !elp, Goals that !urt :itness and @$ercise %forum& Dui)5 What's 4our @$ercise 9ersonality'

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