This One Vital Step Will Help You Set Realistic and Achievable Fitness Goals

exercise-jogging-man-103520.jpg If you’re considering starting a fitness program, whether you’ve never worked out or you’ve started dozens of fitness programs, you need to do one thing first.  You probably have one or two goals in mind.  However, at this point they aren’t written down.  The most common goals I hear are to:  lose weight, look better for a big event coming up, run a race, help control a health condition or continue to rehab an injury after, or instead of, physical therapy.

Sure, those all sound like good goals.  And, they might be.  However, even if your goal is the most common goal, for example, to lose weight, you still are probably missing the one thing that will be the difference between you achieving that goal and quitting before you reach it.

You know what it is you want to do—some form of exercise, right?  And, sure, there will be some form of dietary change to help you lose weight.  You may want someone who helps you do the exercises—a personal trainer, for example.  And, you might see a nutritionist, too.  But, without doing this one thing before all of that, you have a high probability of quitting.

I have found that this one step is vital in many areas of life.  I first heard a motivational speaker talk about this roughly twenty years ago.  Over the years, I revisited this idea for my own goals.  About four years ago, I heard another speaker explaining this concept and how important it is in order to live a successful life.  Ever since, it’s stayed in the forefront of my mind.  I even heard part of a graduation speech recently which included this idea.  This step alone can change your life.  And, in the fitness world, it will make or break a fitness program.

So, what is this elusive step many people forego?  This important step is discovering your ‘why.’  Why do you want to achieve this goal?  Why do you want to lose weight?  Why do you want to start exercising?  Why do you want to start eating healthier?  Your why is one of the most important things to know and believe.

Here are two guidelines when discovering your why.

  1. Be honest with yourself.
  2. Be specific relative to what your goal will be.

Be Honest With Yourself

Find your why.  It is just you, and you alone, on this soul-searching mission.  Really take the time to think about why you want to start a fitness program, not just the superficial reasons everyone seems to give.  You don’t have to discuss this with anyone.  It’s just you.  Examine yourself—your mind and body.  Be honest and face your why.  Then, own it.  Really cement it in your mind and in your heart.  You may even write it down and keep it in your journal.  It’s just for you.  You can tell everyone something else if you want.  But, know deep down what your true why is for exercising.

Find your why.  Do you not like the way you look in the mirror?  Are you always fatigued?  Do you not like the size of your clothing?  Do you get winded going up a flight of stairs?  Do you make excuses to others as to why you can’t walk very far without tiring?  Are you tired of not being able to do the things you want to do, like gardening, traveling, helping at a shelter after work, or perhaps taking a nice long walk with your significant other?  Or, maybe you’d like to run a half-marathon.  The why is different for everyone.

Find your why.  It might be that you’ve always wanted to be able to feel like what the people you see who run in your neighborhood look like.  They look like they feel good.  Like they have energy.  You may have been in good shape at one time in your life and would like to feel that way again.  Maybe you are tired of looking soft, and you want some muscle definition.  Maybe your doctor mentioned that working out would help a medical condition you have.  There are lots of reasons for starting a fitness program.  However, if you’re not honest about why you want to do it, if you don’t feel it in your heart, you will not be passionate about it.  Then, you will quit.

Find your why.  It is easy to quit a fitness program when your heart isn’t into it.  Let me repeat that, it is easy to quit a fitness program when your heart isn’t into it.

Be Specific Relative to What Your Goal Will Be

What does this even mean?  Well, it is about short-term and long-term goals.  If you’re training for a 5k running race to be held in three months, this would be a short-term goal.  If you want to be able to physically do the things you enjoy throughout the rest of your life, this would be considered a long-term goal.  (Albeit a little vague at this point.)  I am still not speaking of the actual goal itself.  I am speaking about the why.  Be specific about your why with each goal.

You may have a long-term goal, like the one mentioned above, a bit vague at first, and have many short-term goals along the way.  For example, your church group is planning to help build a Habitat for Humanity house in two months.  You want to help.  Even if it’s just painting walls, which isn’t as easy as it sounds!  So, for the next two months, you should be working on total body strength so that you can roll the paint on, and endurance exercises so you can work for long stretches throughout the day.  This may be a walking program or hitting the bike in the gym or any similar exercise you choose so that you can work your heart for a long period of time.  (I will not get too specific about exercises in this post.)

Your Habitat for Humanity project mentioned above is probably one of many short-term goals within your long-term fitness goal.  You still need a why for this goal.  Is this an intrinsic or extrinsic goal?  Are you doing it because helping someone acquire a real home makes you feel good?  Or, are you doing it to please the people in your church group?  Either one is okay.  Although, intrinsic reasons lead to more success than extrinsic reasons.  They are both powerful when setting goals and reaching them.  There is no right or wrong answer.  What is important is that you know why you are setting your goal to be able to do this thing—to help build a house.

Your true why will be instrumental in achieving your goal.  And, know that your goals can have different types of motivation.  Your long-term goal of being able to do the things you want to do for the rest of your life is typically an intrinsic goal.  You want to feel good inside.  You want to have a strong, healthy body.  Yet, volunteering to help build a house may be an extrinsic goal, to please and gain better status within the church group.

Be specific about your why in relation to the goals you are going to set.  And, write it down when you write down your goals.

In Summary

Find your why.  You know what you want to do—start a fitness program.  But, before you think about setting fitness goals, there is one step vital to achieving those goals.  You need to find your why.  You must do some soul searching and be honest with yourself to discover your true why.  Furthermore, you most-likely will have more than one goal—short-term and long-term.  For each of these goals, you must find your why.  Is it intrinsic or extrinsic, for example?  There is no wrong answer.  You know your what, now find your why.


You can ask me more questions about this topic or any other fitness topic.  Just sign up to follow and comment.  Also, look for an email sign-up in the future.  I will have freebies exclusively for those on the email list.  As this blog is still a work in progress, please be patient. Thank you for reading.

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