You have likely heard it countless times before, and that is if you want to make progress with something, you must set goals in order to achieve it. So, have you? If you are like most of us, the answer is probably a big fat NO!
If you are excited about starting a new program to lose fat or gain muscle, you are more likely to start by joining a gym, buying a piece of exercise equipment, or jumping headfirst into a new diet program then taking time to write down goals. And while taking action IS an important step in making progress in any area, taking the time to set some specific and realistic fitness goals FIRST may be an even more important one.
The reason why setting goals can be some incredibly helpful in helping you get to where you want to go is because, well, you have DEFINED where it is that you want to go! Simply thinking in your mind that you want to lose fat or build some muscle is a good start, and by taking some action you might realize some progress in those areas, but by taking some time to get specific, you can make incredible progress that you can actually measure.
Here's an example of some general statements about getting more fit along with some SPECIFIC goals that help to further define them:
General statement: I want to lose weight.
Specific goal: I want to drop 8 pounds of fat and go down 1 inch in my waist to fit into my favorite pair of jeans.
General statement: I want to be more muscular.
Specific goal: I want to increase the size of my biceps by ½ inch and add more muscle to my thighs and calves.
General statement: I want to be more fit and healthy.
Specific goal: I want to train to be able to run a 10k without stopping once!
As you can see, when you create a specific goal, it is easier to develop a plan of action to help you get there. You will be going after something tangible that you can actually measure, versus just making general improvement. In each of the scenarios above, once you have reached your specific goal, you STILL have adhered to what is included in the general statement, but by setting very specific fitness goals, you can take specific actions to get there. If your actions are not helping you reach your goals, then you must change them, make improvements and keep moving forward until your goal has been achieved. In doing so, you can experience a higher level of accomplishment as well.
Here is a quick exercise to help you set some realistic fitness goals to help you achieve specific results:
Certainly, you could build on this list and further define it, but the important point is to create goals that are specific and realistic. As you reach them, you can always set additional ones to further your progress even more. As you hit each goal, you have empowered yourself psychologically in an extremely positive way and for each goal you hit, you increase the chances of continuing to make progress. So, go ahead, define your health and fitness goals, get specific, develop a plan of action and achieve them! Once you do...push the goal line a little further and do it again...good luck!