This article is written by Kate Morris and is taken from the upcoming Great Health Guide (March 2016 – issue 9).
Fitness: Are You Setting Yourself Up for Fitness Failure? written by Kate Morris
Have you ever set yourself up with grand plans to improve your fitness as soon as the warmer months arrive only to find yourself spiraling out of control and giving up within a week or two? As a personal trainer, I see this a lot and it’s sure happened to me as well. It’s only natural to feel as though you’ve failed and it’s hard to find the motivation to continue. Everything suddenly seems insurmountable – if you couldn’t even manage for a couple of weeks, how could you possibly last a life time with these new habits?
A lot of the time, we tend to set ourselves some pretty big goals, probably much bigger than is realistic when we’re just starting out. We are much too hard on ourselves when things don’t quite go to plan. We often set ourselves up for failure by the very act of setting goals. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t set goals, we certainly should as it gives us something to aim for. We just need to make sure that in setting our goals, we are doing it in such a way that they will positively reinforce our efforts.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals – What are they are why are they important?
S – Specific: Ensure your goal is something specific. Rather than ‘get fitter’, decide on something specific that you would like to achieve with your fitness i.e. push-ups on your toes, run a 5km fun run or be able to play in the park with the kids for an hour without having to sit down. Fitness means different things to different people so it’s important to be clear about what you want to achieve.
M – Measurable: Again, ‘get fitter’ isn’t something you can necessarily measure. Pick something you can measure so you can tell when you’re making progress and you can see just how far you’ve come.
A – Attainable: Make sure it’s something that is actually attainable. Some things just aren’t possible because you may have particular physical limitations due to injuries or illnesses. Stick to things you know will be attainable. You can always set more adventurous goals as your fitness and strength increase.
R – Realistic and Relevant: Goals need to be both realistic and relevant. They should be realistic in terms of how much time you can commit to working toward them, they need to be relevant to your current circumstances and to your life.
T – Time-Bound: This is one that needs to be a bit flexible. It’s a good thing to have a timeframe on achieving your goals as it’s part of what motivates us to get going in the first place. But there also needs to be some room to move the goal posts if things don’t go quite as you expect them to. Absolutely set a timeline but be prepared to adjust it, should you find it necessary.
Most of all, make sure your goals are your goals. Your goals should not be the goals that other people aim for. Never set your goals based on what your best friend, your sister or your favourite celebrity is working toward. This is your journey, your body, your rules and your goals.
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Setting up your first training week
Having discussed S.M.A.R.T goals, two important things you need to consider are:
1. How much time you realistically have available to you: Sit down and look at your other commitments for the week – work commitments, the kids, social engagements and travel time etc. How much time do you realistically have to commit to exercise? If you have time after work on Tuesday and Thursday, your aim should be to exercise at least twice that week. It’s not to say that you can’t exercise 3-4 times if find you have time, so allow for some flexibility.
2. Where you are starting from: It’s super important to start at your current level of fitness. Don’t worry about what anyone else can do – your mum, your sister, your best friend – this is about you. If it’s been a while since you were active and walking for 15 minutes seems a huge effort, then that’s where you start.
Set up your first weeks so you are hitting your targets with relative ease. You want a challenge but you don’t want to overreach and leave yourself feeling deflated and negative. You want to hit these initial targets and end the week feeling great about what you’ve managed to achieve. This is a process, you can (and should) step things up once they get easier but give yourself a chance to feel great about you and what your body can do right now.
What to do if you don’t hit your goal on time or things don’t go to plan
The most important thing to remember is not to beat yourself up if you don’t hit the goal in exactly the timeframe you set. We’ve all been there. It’s entirely unhelpful and leaves us feeling like failures, wanting to give up on the whole thing. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed at anything, you’re just not quite where you thought you might be yet. Draw a line in the sand, get up tomorrow and do what you can to be the healthiest version of you that you can be. You may need to revise your goals and to cut yourself some slack.
You are already a whole lot closer to that goal than you were when you first set out on your journey. Every step forward counts (even the tiny ones) and one step back doesn’t erase everything you have achieved so far. That is what you need to remember.
Author of this article:
Kate Morris is the owner of Slim Force, a Melbourne based personal training business specialising in working with plus size clients, both in the privacy of their own homes as well as in the Heidelberg personal training studio. Kate and her team of trainers focus on meeting clients where they are, working toward their unique fitness goals and helping them make manageable and sustainable changes to their lifestyles over a period of time. Kate has Certificate 3 and 4 in Fitness as well as a Graduate Diploma in Psychology. You can contact Kate on facebook.
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