Exercise Goal Setting
The hardest thing about exercising is sticking to it. For many people, the first couple days are easy – you are excited about your new exercise plan, ready to get healthy and fit! But, after the novelty wears off, exercising can feel like it is just one more thing you have to squeeze into your busy day.
Sticking to it is not impossible though – setting goals can help keep you motivated.
Here are some tips for successful goal setting:
- Decide what you want to accomplish and choose a specific, measurable goal. Do you want to be able to run six miles in two hours, climb to the top of a 5.10c rock wall, or lift 50 pounds? Do you want to walk for three hours every week or go to two yoga classes? The goal is yours to choose, but pick something you can work towards. Simply saying, "I want to get stronger or work out more," is a good start, but it's hard to hold yourself accountable to such vague goals.
- Set mini-goals, or check-points. In other words, break up your goal into smaller, more attainable pieces. For example, if running a half-marathon is your end goal, set multiple smaller goals that will help you get there. Deciding you are going to run three miles after one month of training is less scary and more manageable than telling yourself you are going to run 13 miles by the end of this year (even if that is the end goal). It's easier to stay motivated by setting smaller goals that can be accomplished relatively quickly.
- Make sure you have the necessary knowledge to reach your goal. Before diving in, make sure you know the proper training techniques and have the right equipment. You don't want to injure yourself at the the very start, especially when the injury could have been easily prevented.
- Set a timeline for reaching your goals. This will help you stay motivated. Try writing down your goals, both large and small, in your calendar or on a post-it stuck to your wall. Seeing your goal will help you remember to keep working towards it. Exercising with friends or a workout buddy can also help you stay on track.
- Pick a way to reward yourself each time you reach a goal. Positive rewards are a great motivator and don't have to be costly or complicated. Watching your favorite movie, visiting your favorite spot, or enjoying a small portion of your favorite food are all nice rewards. If you pick a food reward, don't choose it too often or have a huge portion; you don't want to undo all of the benefits from your exercise. After all, life is all about balance.
- Be patient with yourself. Reaching new fitness goals will take time and won't happen overnight. If you make a mistake or miss a few days of exercise, don't be too hard on yourself. Just get back on track and keep at it!
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