Setting Personal Goals For Improved Fitness
I have often emphasized the importance of setting specific weight loss goals as I have talked about with many of my patients and in books and articles, writing down a specific number and a specific time frame over which you intend to achieve that goal allows you to focus your mind on a specific plan of action and it improves the odds that you will succeed.
But there are many other types of goals as well and I would encourage you to begin setting additional goals too. You might think of the numerical weight loss goals as a specific type of outcome goal. A good example of this will be, “I am going to lose 30 pounds from today’s weight over the next six months.”
Some additional goals that you should set for yourself have to do with behavior, effort, and competition. So what do I mean by these? Well, just because you are not losing those 30 pounds does not mean that you are failing. In fact, quite the opposite might be true. For example, a person who works very hard at improved fitness, begins lifting weight, begins reducing their body fat percentage, and actually becomes stronger, healthier and better physically fit, may find that they only lost 20 pounds, but that their body composition has improved enormously as has their strength and endurance. So this would be a major victory, but yet it might feel like a failure because the 30-pound target was not reached.
This reminds us that we should also set some specific goals for reducing body fat percentage and improving running or walking endurance and strength.
But it also speaks to the importance of setting goals that have to do with our habits. For example, a goal that we could all set is to take four walks of 30 to 60 minutes’ duration per week. This is an example of a behavior goal, and another one might be to establish a goal of lifting weights and performing core strengthening exercises three times per week.
It’s an amazingly satisfying feeling for my patients to make a checkmark on a calendar each time they have achieved behavior goals like working out with weights or going for a run. Plus, looking back over the weeks and months, they tell me, “I see a lot of checkmarks and evidence of the work I have been doing; it reminds me that I am succeeding”.
You can do this too. Start small. Don’t be overly ambitious, but with these behavior goals, all you have to do is show up. So, reward yourself for showing up and taking your walks, doing some basic strength exercises and credit yourself with the written record of having accomplished a goal.