We’re about halfway into 2019, and the first day of summer already passed (Friday, June 21st). So, how are those new year fitness goals coming along?
If you’re behind, you’re not alone. And, it’s not too late to get started. You just need a solid strategy you can commit to. Here’s how to set achievable fitness goals for summer and lay a foundation for fitness success all year round.
Write SMART Goals for Fitness
In order to achieve a goal you need a strategy, and a plan of action. The challenge that most people run up against is that they set unrealistic or vague, nonspecific goals. When you have nonspecific goals, it’s really hard to set your aim, and develop a strategy to reach those goals.
For instance, let’s say you have a goal to “lose weight”. This goal, although well intentioned, is not specific enough. How much weight do you want to lose? When do you want to lose it by? This goal lacks some details, that make it hard to plan for. If you can be more specific, you’ll find your goal easier to plan around and to achieve.
So, if you’ve been struggling to achieve your fitness goals, try this out – start by writing out SMART goals.
SMART goals are:
Agreed Upon (or Acceptable)
To ensure you’ve created a SMART goal, simply run your goal through this framework. We already know our example goal is not specific enough. But if we change our goal from “losing weight” to “losing 10 lbs by the end of summer”, that’s much more specific. It’s also measurable, because we could weigh ourselves periodically to measure our progress.
Next, is this a goal that you can agree to? Is it something that you agree is important, and feel aligned with? Sometimes we create goals based on what other people tell us. That makes it hard to accept and commit to those goals. Instead, your goals need to resonate with you, and be something you can agree to. That will give you more motivation to achieve those goals.
Now, we want to assess if it’s realistic to lose 10 lbs by the end of summer. It’s typically recommended to target 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week, and the last day of summer is on September 23rd, approximately 13 weeks away. So, that sounds technically realistic. But how will you lose that weight?
One pound of weight is equivalent to approximately 3,500 calories. So, to lose one pound per week you need a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. To achieve that you can burn more calories through exercise, and/or reduce your daily calorie intake. So, you need to assess if that’s realistic for you. Does your schedule allow for that?
Lastly, is your goal time oriented? Without a set deadline, deadlines typically default to someday. But if you set a specific deadline, your mind will begin strategizing to hit your target. Sometimes we need a sense of urgency.
For the previous example, the end of summer is our time-oriented deadline. However, it doesn’t always have to be a deadline. For instance, you could have a smaller supporting goal of “going to the gym 3 days per week for 45 minutes, throughout the summer”. This also has timeliness to it. But you could make the goal better by specifying exactly which days you’ll be going to the gym. The less ambiguity in your goals the better.
Create Smaller Supporting Goals
The original example goal to “lose 10 lbs by the end of summer”, is a larger big picture kind of goal. You can think of it as your summit goal. This is the kind of goal you’ll need to focus on and work toward for a while. Once you have a summit goal in mind, it’s helpful to also have supporting goals that feed into it.
Here are some examples of smaller supporting goals:
To workout at the gym 3 evenings per week (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday) for 45 minutes.
Walk for at least 30 minutes per day, by taking two 15-minute walking breaks at work.
Bring lunch to work for 3 days per week.
If your summit goal was to lose 10 lbs by the end of the summer, you can see how these smaller goals can keep you on track to reaching that goal. I recommend setting about 2-3 of these smaller goals and monitoring them weekly. And remember, your goals aren’t set in concrete. They’re there to keep you on track. If you need to adjust them to better fit your needs and abilities, do it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Lower the Bar
Sometimes when we get charged up and motivated, we like to set big goals for ourselves. It’s great to dream big, and to be ambitious. But if you’re having a hard time believing in your goal, or strategizing to get it done, you might need to lower the bar. And, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Let’s say you want to lose 20 lbs. The thought of it is motivating, but when it actually comes down to getting it done, you might feel lost. Maybe it feels insurmountable right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goal. But, it might help to modify that goal to change your perspective. Maybe focus on losing 5 lbs first, then focus on 10 lbs, and work your way up to 20 lbs as you gain momentum.
When we lower the bar on our goals, we’re not giving up. We’re just narrowing our focus and giving ourselves milestones. As you achieve these smaller milestones, you can then incrementally raise the bar. The point of setting goals is to make progress. So, if you’re not making progress, rethink your goals, and consider lowering the bar. It can help in the long run.
With longer days, and warmer weather, summertime provides the perfect opportunity to take your workout outdoors. Instead of going to the gym to run on the treadmill, try a trail run in a local park. Or, how about a sunset walk on the beach. There are more ways than one to get your steps in, and most of us spend our workdays inside, sheltered from the sun.
If you turn your workout into an outdoor experience, you might find an extra sense of reward and relaxation. Summer only lasts until September 23rd. Get outside, get some Vitamin D, and enjoy the fresh air on your skin.
Find a Workout Buddy
One of the best ways to achieve your fitness goals is to have a workout buddy. If you can find a friend with similar goals, you can hold each other accountable. When you’re not feeling motivated, a friend might be able to provide the extra support you need.
Plus, it gives you a great chance to hangout with a friend and strengthen your relationship. Think about it – so often we make plans to get dinner or drinks with friends. But, why not make activity-oriented plans? If you both have fitness goals, you can make activity-oriented plans that support those goals while strengthening your friendship.
Don’t Beat Up On Yourself
Start out by writing down some SMART goals and scaffold your summit goals with smaller supporting goals. If your struggling to reach your goals, don’t be afraid to lower the bar. For extra support grab a friend and enjoy the outdoors.
Finally, summer only lasts so long. Be kind to yourself and enjoy it.
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