I’m always immensely proud of people when they tell me that they’ve started working out, of course. But, because this is what I do and because I’m a curious person, I start asking questions. I ask the normal things like details about their workouts, their schedule and, eventually, their goals. This is generally a worrying part of the conversation, though. Most often, the answer is something general like to feel better or to lose weight but sometimes, there is no answer. Sometimes people workout just for the sake of working out.
Here’s the problem with the preceding scenarios: How long would a walk last if you didn’t have a clearly defined destination? You’re likely going to get bored or distracted or just stop when you got tired. But how would you know what you accomplished? And what would motivate you to go again? That same issue can be stretched out to apply to your entire fitness lifestyle; Without a definite and appropriate goal, it’s hard to stay motivated. Conversely, a proper goal gives you an empowering sense of accomplishment, as well as allowing to track your progress along the way to actively see the improvements you’re making.
So what is an “appropriate” goal? To explain, I’m going to borrow an acronym from the American Council on Exercise. According to them, an appropriate fitness goal must be S.M.A.R.T.
Specific – Exactly what do you want to achieve by working out?
Measurable – This is vitally important to knowing exactly how much progress you’ve made. Examples include a specific amount of weight you want lose, or a certain body fat percentage you’d like to hit or your mile time.
Attainable – This one can be a little tricky and requires you to take an honest look at your starting point and your final destination. If your goal is too hard, you’ll get frustrated and discouraged; Too easy, and you won’t be challenged enough to really achieve lasting change. Your goal needs to be both challenging and doable.
Relevant – Your goal should fit your needs, your interests and your abilities.
Timebound – You need a deadline, specifically one that’s within the realistic bounds of attainability.
A properly designed goal is just as important as the workout itself. These goals will give you something to strive for, a sense of pride when you achieve them and something to enjoy in your workouts. When you see yourself progressing towards your final goal, you’ll feel like you’re winning. And everybody loves winning, even when we’re just competing with ourselves.
Fitmark Ambassador 2013