You are more than a number on the scale.
Exercising does not necessarily mean you want to lose weight. People tend to exercise for different reasons. Amongst these reasons are feeling more energized, having a better night’s sleep, toning your body, or increasing your muscle mass - all of which are perfectly valid goals. Finding the right personal motivation for fitness really comes down to what your personal aims are.
Determining your fitness goal is a great place to start on your wellness journey. It's important to keep in mind that even if weight loss is important to you, it’s not the only benefit to working out. There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling of sticking to your diet, working out as planned per week, and then getting on the scale at the end of the month and staying stagnant or even gaining a pound or two. We like to promote a positive and sustainable approach to fitness, so you are not driven only by pounds lost, but instead motivated by the myriad additional physical and mental benefits.
So what constitutes a ‘good’ fitness goal? A great way to create a goal that will keep you motivated is by using the acronym SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Here are a few great places to start!
1. One More Step/Mile/Rep
There is a reason fitness devices like Fitbit and Apple Watches are extremely popular. Counting steps and monitoring projected calories burned or active time for the day is a great way to keep yourself motivated to take that extra step or run that extra mile. You don’t need to walk from LA to New York, but setting a daily step count for you to achieve, alongside a goal of burning a specific number of calories, is easily tracked to help hold you accountable and stay motivated. If you are starting your fitness journey, there is no shame in starting at a realistic level. You don’t need to start at 15,000 steps or 2 hours of daily exercise, set smaller increment goals and work towards increasing them over time.
2. Make movement fun again!
When the treadmill starts to hold no allure and the rows of free weights make your eyes glaze over, it is time for a change of pace. We’re not saying quit your gym membership, but instead, work on something new or even learn a new skill. Instead of doing step-ups, pick up a jump rope and challenge yourself to jump consistently for two minutes, and once you’ve done that, up the time limit. Variety is the spice of life, so challenge yourself to try something new like boxing, tennis, or an ocean swim if you live on the coast. Create a scenario where you can make movement fun for you again and create a goal within this, so working out does not seem like a chore for you anymore.
3. Eat (and snack) healthier
Eating healthy can be hard at times, especially when walking around and smelling all kinds of delicious not-so-healthy foods. According to the CDC, approximately 9% of American adults eat enough veggies. Veggies play a big part in digestion and gut health since they are high in fiber; veggies also contain vital nutrients, antioxidants, and more to keep your body performing at its peak. Veggies also help you feel fuller, so you won’t grab a snack or overeat an hour after dinner.
The standard serving size recommended by the CDC for adults is 2 to 3 cups per day. It seems a lot to add to your diet, but it is pretty straightforward. Adding neutral-flavored greens such as spinach to a smoothie or with scrambled eggs or eating lightly steamed greens as a base for meals.
But how can we snack healthier too? Chopping up fresh fruits and veggies and keeping them in reusable containers in the fridge for easy snacks. Also, opt to snack on whole foods like unsalted raw nuts. If you are craving soda, drink some carbonated water mixed with your favorite sugar-free electrolyte supplement.
4. Complete A Fitness Challenge
COVID-19 brought about the rise of virtual marathons and even saw an increase in 30-day challenges. Although critics advocate the finite nature of these 30-day challenges and how they do not result in permanently changed habits, that is just the beauty of it! For 30 days, you commit to daily movement. The point is to not be extremely strict with yourself to achieve consistency but to build a recurring goal that you can meet daily on the schedule you decide. The same works for the virtual marathons, each day, you can set aside an hour for a run, which tallies up your total mileage for every hour-long run you took and places it towards the mileage of a marathon. Micro ambition is key!
5. Faster running pace or lifting more weight.
These are small goals you can set for yourself in intervals that work for you. Whether you want to increase your running pace over a month or increase the weight you may bench or train with within three months; these micro-goals help you feel fulfilled when reached and help keep you on track and apply to every workout. For example, besides running further or training with more weight, one can aim to hold a level up the resistance in your Pilates Reformer class or nail that headstand in yoga.
With these five tips, you can start to build fitness goals that are not just motivational but attainable. Goals like eating healthier, getting a better night's sleep, or cutting out soda are great to start at because it helps you build accountability and, in turn, help you get healthier without making it feel like a chore.