We set a goal to lift a certain amount of weight or lose a certain number of pounds, only to step into the gym once and never return. How can we prevent ourselves from burning out and losing track of our goals?
Brian Lehner is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and an exercise instructor at the Sewall Healthy Living Center at Sharp Coronado Hospital. He shares these four tips for sticking with your fitness resolutions:
- Set an achievable yet challenging goal.
The key to setting goals is making sure they are SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. To find a goal that fits this criteria, it’s important to know your “why.”
“Start with your goal and then ask yourself ‘why’ up to five times until you get to the root of your motivation — your ‘why,’” says Lehner. Here is an example:
Understanding why your goals matter can help keep you focused. It can also help you make your broad goals more specific and achievable.
Goal Question I want to lose 25 pounds Why? It would make me healthier Why is that important? Being healthier is important because my doctor said if I don't lose the weight, I could have some medical issues. How does that make you feel? I feel bad because if I develop medical issues, then I might not be around for my family. Why is being there for your family important to you? I want to see my kids grow up, get married and have children.
- Don’t just focus on numbers.
Designing your goals around specific numbers, such as your ideal weight, can make your goal too rigid. This could cause you to get easily frustrated when the results do not show right away. Instead, center your goal on behavior changes that can help you become healthier in the long run.
“Remember that there are habits that need to be learned and applied to achieve any goal. Look to see what habits might move you toward your goals,” says Lehner.
- Break it down.
Break down your goal into small, easy steps or mini goals. For example, if your goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day, start with 5,000 and work your way up from there.
“Look for the smallest things you can do that will move you toward your big goal,” says Lehner. “Early success leads to better adherence.”
- Have an accountability partner.
Lehner recommends sharing your progress with a friend to help keep you motivated. This can also make working out a fun activity, rather than something you will feel like you have to do.
“Sticking to goals is challenging for everyone,” he says. “So it is important not to feel discouraged if you fall behind.”
The Sewall Healthy Living Center at Sharp Coronado Hospital offers monthly and annual memberships, group fitness classes and personal training. Learn more about Fitness Center offerings.