Let’s say you have career aspirations to be a doctor. Likely, you’ll take pre-med classes in college, get your hands wet working in a medical setting, discover what fields really interest you, study for med-school entrance exams, apply to the best universities, and follow a logical progression of steps to make your career choice a reality.
None of that happens randomly. To be successful, you need a plan. The same holds true in the fitness realm. You’ll be more successful if you know what your goals are and how you’re going to achieve them. Perhaps your goals are outlined in detail—perhaps not. But without goals, you’re basically wandering through life like a person walking through the desert at midnight without a guiding light or a map. You’re lost, and it doesn’t really matter if you just stand there or move. You don’t know where you’re going, anyway.
Success in the gym, like your career path, doesn’t happen by accident or a lucky break. Start taking charge of your journey through life. Set goals for yourself and stay on track to reach them. Here are eight ways to ensure you find the path that will substantially increase your odds of reaching your fitness goals.
KNOW YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS
Think about the future and what you want to accomplish. Perhaps you want to lose 50 pounds over the next 12 months. Write it down. Hold yourself responsible and accountable for reaching that goal. Putting it down on paper is like creating a covenant you have to stick to. Put that paper on a refrigerator or mirror—anywhere you look on a daily basis. This is a constant reminder of the pact you made with yourself to reach your goal.
SET SHORT-TERM GOALS
While writing long-term goals is a great start, achieving them requires detailing a number of steps to help get you there. After all, losing 50 pounds doesn’t just happen because you write it down. Using that example, create monthly goals, or even weekly goals. For instance, you can reasonably lose 1-2 pounds per week in a healthy way. (Yes, you can lose weight faster, but 1-2 pounds per week is considered healthy for most people.) Then, write it down. You can then create a monthly weight-loss goal of 4-8 pounds.
MAKE YOUR GOALS MEASUREABLE
How do you think you can ensure you’re on the right path if you have no way of measuring the results? It’s easy with weight because you can simply jump on the scale. But the point here is that your goals must be measureable. Doing weekly or monthly weigh-ins ensures you stay on track with your short-term—and ultimately your long-term—goals.
Keep yourself accountable by utilizing these measureable goals to see how you are progressing. If you see you aren’t on track to meet a short-term goal, then you know you’ll need to make some adjustments to get back on track. It can be something as simple as taking a peek at your diet and making some minor changes, or maybe adding a little bit more cardio to your regimen to burn more calories.
FOLLOW THROUGH WITH SPECIFIC PLANS
Next you’ll need to create an action plan for your short-term goals. Following our example, put in place a workout and nutrition plan that allows you to lose 1-2 pounds per week. The plan should fit your schedule and allow you to work out a certain amount of days a week for a given period of time. Be specific about your training plans, detailing how many days and how much time you can commit to. In terms of your nutrition, start by referencing a few Bodybuilding.com articles on tips and meal plans for fat loss, or consult a nutritionist to help. By recording your calories and macros each day, you’ll know if you’re on track or not.
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