Step-by-Step Guide To Setting Realistic Fitness Goals
Are you setting yourself realistic and achievable fitness goals for your exercise routine? Most people join the gym or start a fitness regime and overlook this simple thing.
Starting a fitness routine with no goal is like starting a journey with no map or destination.
It would be best if you had a solid goal to work toward and a plan on how to achieve your goal.
Once you have this, it will help you stay motivated and keep track of your progress.
In this article, I will show you step-by-step how to set a robust and realistic fitness goal using three goal-setting systems:
- Outcome and process goals
- Short-term and long-term goals
- SMART goals
Let’s dive into this step-by-step guide.
Process Versus Outcome Fitness Goals
Process and outcome goals allow you to break down your goals into micro components.
I feel that is the strongest goal-setting system available.
What is an Outcome Goal?
An outcome goal focuses on what it is you are trying to accomplish. It is important to be as specific as possible when setting an outcome goal.
Here are a few examples of outcome goals:
- Be able to do 100 push-ups in 6 months
- Lose 8kgs in 1 year.
- Lose 4 inches around your stomach in 8 months
- Be able to run 5k without stopping in 6 months.
If we go back to the analogy that I used earlier of starting a journey with no destination or map, an outcome goal would be equivalent to your destination.
When you set your outcome goal, it should be a goal that really excites you so that you are able to stick with it as long as it takes till you get to your goal.
However, knowing your destination but having no way of knowing how to get there is pointless, which is why you will add process goals.
What is a Process Goal?
A process goal focuses on all the small steps that you need to do in order to achieve your goals.
Process goals can be things that need to be done daily, weekly, or monthly. For instance:
- Exercise 3 times a week
- Two of my 3 exercise sessions will be strength training, while the other one will be flexibility
- Instead of driving to and from the train station, I will walk so that I can increase my daily steps to 10,000
- I will reduce my daily calorie intake to 1700 calories
- I will track all the food I eat using MyFitnessPal.
- I will drink over 2 liters of water a day.
How to Set Fitness Goals Using Process Goals & Outcome Goals
Step 1: Identify Your Outcome
Identifying your fitness goal should be easy, but as I said earlier, try to be as specific as you can.
Ask yourself what it is you want to achieve and when you would like to achieve it.
I would also suggest adding three months to the timeframe you first choose because it’s easy to be unrealistic or overambitious initially.
Here are some examples:
- Increase my weight by 5 kilograms and build muscle in my upper body within nine months
- Reduce my body fat by 5% within the next 12 weeks
- Lose 5 kgs so that my clothes aren’t so tight on me within the next nine months.
Step 2: Outline What the Process Looks Like
Now that you know what your outcome goal is, you need to think about what steps you need to take to get yourself there.
The more detail you go into, the more solid your plan is.
For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, your process goals may include:
- To eat 2000 calories a day
- To do strength training 3 x a week for 45 minutes each session
- To measure my weight weekly
- To measure my waist each month
- To review my progress monthly
- To spend 10 minutes a day visualising the body I want
- To limit myself to eating out or having a takeaway once a week
- Avoid drinking alcohol on work nights
Step 3: Identify Physical and Mental Process Goals
Process goals are not just things you do physically, like:
- Walking ten steps
- Swimming three times a week
- Eating a high-protein diet.
Process goals can also be used to set any type of mental preparation or self-development that helps to develop your focus and motivation.
Some examples of mental process goals for weight loss would be:
- Reciting positive affirmations for ten minutes daily
- 10 minutes of meditation each day
- 5 minutes visualising
- Writing your goals out every day
- Keeping a journal of your food, feelings, and thoughts
Short-Term Goals and Long-Term Goals For Physical Activity
Let us look at the second system of goal setting now that you know how to use outcome and process goals.
Short-term goals are goals that you aim for in the near future. For example, a week, a month, or three months.
These short-term goals help you to measure your progress and to see if you are on target for your final goal.
- Reducing alcohol intake from 14 units to 7 within the next two weeks
- Increasing your running distance from 2k runs to 3k runs by the end of the month
- Increasing the distance you swim in an hour from 1k to 2k in 3 months.
A long-term goal is the main goal that you are focusing on achieving. It is the type of goal that can be anywhere from 6 months to a year.
Here are some examples:
- To lose 30 kilograms in 1 year
- Improve your half marathon from 3 hours and 10 minutes to sub 3 hours in one year
- To be able to do a one-handed press-up in 6 months.
Set Attainable Fitness Goals For Your Workout Routine Using SMART Goals
The 3rd and final goal-setting system that I want to share with you is setting SMART goals.
Although this is the most overused goal-setting system used by fitness professionals, it is also effective.
Being specific about your goal helps you to hone in on your goal like a beacon. Rather than saying, “I want to lose as much weight as possible,” try saying I want to lose 10 kgs so that I weigh 90 kg.
If you are not measuring your progress, you won’t know if you are on target. Decide how frequently you will measure yourself and how you will measure yourself.
For example, “I will measure myself using bathroom scales on a weekly basis to ensure that I have lost 1.2kg a week To weigh 90kg.
I want to lose 10 kg so that I weigh 90 kg. I will measure myself on a weekly basis to ensure that I have lost 1.2kg a week and to weigh 90kg by the end of January.
what kind of things are you going to do to achieve these goals? For example, I will exercise 3 times a week and count calories.
When deciding how you will attain your goals, don’t forget to take into account things like:
- How much time you can allocate
- Your current fitness level
- How much support will you need from others?
I want to lose 10 kg so that I weigh 90 kg. I will measure myself on a weekly basis using bathroom scales to ensure that I have lost 1.2kg a week to weigh 90kg by the end of January. I will ensure that I eat no more than 2000 calories a day and exercise a minimum of 3 times a week.
Realistic (and relevant)
There is no point in setting an unrealistic goal, as it will make you lose your motivation.
Also, decide on what makes that goal relevant to you, as this will help you invest in your goal on a deeper level.
An example of a relevant reason for wanting to lose 10 kg could be:
“I want to feel more confident in my physical appearance so that I feel good in the clothes I wear.”
I want to lose 10 kg so that I weigh 90 kg so that I feel more confident in my physical appearance so that I feel good in the clothes I wear. I will measure myself on a weekly basis using bathroom scales to ensure that I have lost 1.2kg a week to weigh 90kg by the end of January. I will ensure that I eat no more than 2000 calories a day and exercise a minimum of 3 times a week.
The T in SMART is similar to when you set a short-term or long-term goal. It is important to state when you want to achieve the goal.
Using the example of losing 10 kgs, you may choose to lose this weight by the 31st of January.
Final smart goal:
I want to lose 10 kg so that I weigh 90 kg by the 31st of January so that I can feel more confident in my physical appearance and feel good in the clothes I wear. I will measure myself on a weekly basis using bathroom scales to ensure that I have lost 1.2kg a week to weigh 90kg by the end of January. I will ensure that I eat no more than 2000 calories a day and exercise a minimum of 3 times a week.
Tracking The Progress Of Your Physical Activity Goals:
Regularly reviewing your progress is important to losing weight. Use fitness apps or a journal to record your workouts and food intake.
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You can use any of the three different goal-setting systems to help you with your fitness goal.
You can even combine some of the systems.
Out of the three goal-setting systems, the outcome and process goals are more detailed and thorough.
However, there is beauty in simplicity, and if you want to make life easier for yourself, then perhaps SMART goals or short and long-term goals may be better for you.
Please let me know your thoughts.