Setting Realistic Fitness and Weight Loss Goals

Brian Calkins - NSCA-CPT, ACE | Cincinnati, Ohio | January 1, 2008

It is too easy to set yourself up for failure when setting your fitness goals. The first time we meet with a new client we begin by reviewing their goals. Many times people will identify someone they either know personally, or have seen in the media, that has a body that they admire and tell us “I want to look like that, yesterday.”

Obviously, that's not exactly how it works. It is great to have a long term goal, and long term goals are much needed. But in order to reach the long term outcome you have to set short term goals along the way. It has been my experience that if short term goals are not set, the long term goals are rarely achieved. This leads to discouragement, doubt, and eventually failure. We all need mini-successes along the way. When short term goals are set and you consistently meet them on a month to month basis, a feeling of success sets in and this becomes your driving force.

These short term goals need to be realistic. Unrealistic goals also lead to disappointment. It is great to be motivated and encouraged to get to your goal, but you need to be aware of what the human body is actually capable of doing in a healthy way. For example, occasionally I will have a new client come in and say that she has a wedding in six weeks and needs to lose forty pounds so she can look great for the pictures. Time for a reality check. Forty pounds in six weeks equates to nearly a pound of body fat reduction each day. Not only is that unhealthy, it's simply not possible.

Long term, permanent, healthy weight loss (depending on how over weight a person may be) ranges between from 1-3 pounds per week. The more overweight a person is, normally the easier it is to initially drop excess weight.

Setting realistic goals, and achieving them, is what keeps you motivated. There is no better feeling than losing 9 pounds of body fat. That feeling of success is what keeps people motivated and striving for their long term goal. So remember, in order to reach that long term goal, short term goals need to be set and met along the way to keep you on your path of success.

Not only do you need to set short and long range goals but you also must continually remind yourself of them. It is so easy to slip off track, especially in this day and age. This generation eats way too much and moves way too little. When you are surrounded by people who do not have the same goals as you, who are not motivated to improve their health, energy and body - it is easy to fall into that rut as well. Whether you hang a picture on your refrigerator or leave yourself little notes on your bathroom mirror, make sure you remind yourself of what your goals are each day in order to stay on track. Every good thing begins with a goal, whether you achieve them or not is a direct response to your ability to remind yourself of your goals. Find what works for you and stick with it. Consistency is the key to success.

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