Get a SMART Start

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When you wish to accomplish any task in life, developing defined goals will enable you a greater chance of success. The first step in starting a successful fitness plan is to set a goal. This simple act, when done correctly, will instantly give you the feeling of success. You need to get SMART!  You may already be aware of this much used acronym. There are a number of slightly different variations, but we will use a definition that will be more suited for you to accomplish your fitness and wellness goals. Here’s how to make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

Specific: What do you want to accomplish with exercise? Is it to lose weight and shrink your waist? Is it to lower your blood pressure or improve your health? Do you wish to improve your performance in a sport or is it to simply pick up a bag of groceries with more ease? Specify exactly what you want to achieve. Do not be too general or vague.  An example is “I want to lose 23 pounds of body fat” vs. “I want to lose weight.” Your goal should be clear and well defined. Only by having a specific goal can you structure an effective strategy and tactical plan of action.

Measurable: You have to be able to track your results to measure your progress. What gets analyzed gets done. What you measure will depend on what your specific goal is. You can measure pounds, body fat percentage, inches, and blood pressure. It could even be fitting into some pants that you haven’t been able to wear or maybe just measuring the improvement in the way you feel.

Action-oriented: A goal without a plan of action is just a dream. Your course of action should be relevant to your goal and be results-oriented.

Realistic: You should set goals that are stretching, but you are setting yourself up for failure and frustration if they are not realistically attainable.  This step involves asking two questions. First, what type of program would you realistically stick with? Look honestly at your abilities, but don’t underestimate yourself either. You’ll need to push yourself to achieve your goal. The second question, is it physiologically possible and probable with your action plan? Otherwise you defeat your purpose. I find for many this is the number one reason for failure. As an example, it is impossible to lose 5 pounds of fat a week. Notice, I said fat. It is possible to lose 5 pounds of weight but then you’ll be fatter at a lighter weight. It is possible to lose 2 lb of fat a week, but you may not be able to be compliant. If you have fifty pounds to lose it won’t all come off in a month. Setting unattainable goals simply sets you up for failure.

Time Based: Set an exact time to achieve the goal. Every great goal is set on a time line. Keeping the above steps in mind, give yourself an exact date and time that your goal needs to be accomplished. Your time line should match up with your realistic step. If you have a major fat loss goal then break it down into small attainable goals. As you achieve each smaller goal you will reinforce your progress and ultimately can attain any desired goal.

Before setting a goal make sure it is relevant to what you want to ultimately accomplish, is significant and worthwhile. There is always a plan of action that follows a goal, so set goals that are meaningful and motivational. To keep you accountable, be sure to write down your SMART goal and place it somewhere that you see often then tell three people of importance in your life about your goal. The goal should be tangible and rewarding, so decide how you will treat yourself when you accomplish the goal.