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How To Set Fitness Goals In 2021

[What Works & What To Avoid]

By: Zack Mathews

When you set a goal you are excited. 

You are motivated. 

You feel like this is your time and you WILL do it this time around.

Sound familiar?

We've all been there before. So why do most people fail with their fitness goals?  

The problem arises that excitement and motivation are emotions.  We experience hundreds of different emotions everyday and it’s nearly impossible to keep the same emotions day in and day out.

That excitement and motivation you have to reach your big fitness goal will eventually fade, it’s normal, and that’s where people start to give up on their goal.

That’s why you need to frame your goals differently, build habits that support your goals, and understand that your actions will triumph over your emotions.

If you are ready to truly change your life, not only in the short term, but more importantly for the rest of your life, learn how to set fitness goals with these tips.

Break Your Fitness Goals Into Shorter, More Attainable, Goals

Why Fitness Goals Fail

We have big goals and dreams for our life.

Shoot for the stars and dream big, they say!

We want to make X amount of money, travel the world, have this and that, and we want our body to look a certain way.

That’s where your colossal, life changing goal comes from.

Using the emotions of motivation and excitement we discussed earlier, we set a big goal for our health and fitness transformation and are ready to go all in!

What is your big goal?  Do you need to lose 100 pounds?  Are you skinny and want to gain 30 pounds of muscle?  Do you want to run a marathon?

These goals are great to have, but once you begin your journey, most people realize it’s a daunting task. 

You know it’s not going to be easy, but once that excitement and motivation isn’t at an all time high like it was when you made the goal, you’re left questioning yourself if this is all worth it.

Let’s not let you get to that point.

Start break them down into smaller, realistic, achievable goals.

  • When you need to lose 100 pounds, set a goal to lose 10 pounds.
  • If you want to gain weight, work on getting that first 5 pounds of muscle. 
  • Marathons are long and 26.2 miles for someone that doesn’t run is a pretty large order.  How about starting with a goal to run a 5k?
how to set fitness goals that are realistic

Take Action

Stop right now and go grab a piece of paper or open up a blank page on your computer or phone.

Write down your main, overall goal you want to achieve.  The big one.

Right below it, write “my current focused goal is ____________”.  This will be your smaller, realistic, achievable goal.  Focus on this day in and day out.  When your mind starts wandering about your sizable goal and how hard it is going to be to get there, laser your focus back into your current focused goal and keep your energy on that.

Set Behavior Goals

Behaivoral Goals To Fix Your Fitness Goals

One of the best ways to ensure that you stay on track and hit your health and fitness goals is to build habits that become part of your daily routine.

When this happens, it becomes second nature and you don’t feel like it’s such a nuisance to do something that will get you towards your goals.

That’s where behavior goals come in and can be very successful for many people.  I have used this with many of my clients and it’s become one of my favorite things to do after our initial session.

Instead of your main, overall goal that you wrote down in the last section, what behaviors can you set that will get you towards that?

So your marathon is your overall goal? I love it!

You can make a goal to run for 20 - 30 minutes after work 3-4x/week. 

How about you go outside every Saturday and do 60 minutes of run/walking where you track you time doing each of those and work on improving that?

For the person wanting to gain muscle, 30 pounds will take time and commitment, so why not commit to going to the gym 3 times every week?

If weight loss is your goal, find behaviors that you can set that will help you eat less and move more. 

  • Maybe you add a vegetable at every meal. 
  • Why not try to stop eating at 8 to prevent your late night snacking?
  • A 15 minute walk after dinner can go a long way.
How to set fitness goals behavior changes

When setting a behavior goal, there are two questions you need to ask yourself.

1. Is this behavior something that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life?

Most people that go all out from the beginning eventually crash and burn.  When you say you want to workout 6 times a week, do you think you can do that for the rest of your life?  If yes, then great, go for it?  If you question if you can exercise 6 days a week, reconsider your behavior goal.

2. Is this behavior realistic with what my current behaviors are?

Lasting behaviors are built from small habits building on top of each other. 

For the person who eats out for every meal, is it realistic for them to give up fast food and only eat chicken and broccoli?  Most people with that drastic of a change will revert back to their old habits.

As for exercise, you currently haven’t worked out for 2 years but want to start working out 5 times a week.  That’s a drastic change and is not realistic with your current behaviors.

Instead of 5, why not show that you can stick to 2 workouts a week.  When you build momentum with that, then transition to 3, 4, 5 over the coming months and years.

Take Action

Write down your main, overall goal again.

Now, write down 2-3 small behavioral changes that will help you get to your goal.

Remember to make sure it’s a behavior you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life and that it is realistic relative to what you are currently doing.

These Fitness Goals Will Change

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The great thing about shorter goals and behavior goals is that they are constantly changing.  You will get to celebrate your accomplishments more often and then be able to sit down and attack your next goal.

Make a short term goal that is harder to hit than the last.

Have you been consistent with your habits and feel like you can add more? Add something new that will make you work a bit harder.

  • The 5k goal will turn into a 10k.

  • 5 pounds down will turn into 10,25, 50.

  • Walking for 10 minutes a day will turn into 30.

  • Strength training 1x week will go to 3x/week.

  • Eating vegetables at 1 meal will turn into you enjoying vegetables and want them at multiple meals.

Before you know it, you will have completely transformed your life with what seemed like little work.

If You Don't Achieve Your Fitness Goals And Are Still Feeling Lost

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Sometimes you need some extra help and that’s where a coach can be of great value. 

Do your best to try and get yourself going, but if you just can’t seem to get there, my coaching services are always available.

I will help you build your goals and habits, you will get a personalized workout program for your current experience level, and full accountability to make sure you are progressing making the changes you want in your life.

If you are interested in coaching, please clink the link below!

If you have any questions, please email me at ZackMathews@VBAFitness or follow me on Instagram.

I am happy to help!