About 80% of all people who start an exercise program stop working out within a few months.
This usually follows a familiar pattern: After a short time the novelty of training starts to wear off. Enthusiasm wanes. You begin to skip workouts. Little by little, the number of missed workouts increases until your goal of getting into shape becomes a distant memory.
Don't become a statistic. You can beat the odds and become a life-long fitness success story. All it takes is a commitment to goal setting. Goals are a function of your motivation-the reasons for wanting to exercise.
So how do you go about setting goals? Just think SMART... as in Sustainable, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely!
For goals to be effective, they need to meet each of these criteria. Losing 20 pounds over three months is a SMART goal; losing that amount of weight in a week is not.
Short Time Frames
Whatever your goals, break them down into short time frames of no more than a month or two. In this way, you are able to accomplish your goals in a reasonable period of time, which in turn promotes positive feedback and boosts self-confidence.
For example, reducing your cholesterol by 50 points might appear to be a daunting task. But cutting it by 10 points a month for five months seems much more attainable. After a mere 30 days, you can relish the fact that you achieved your goal and set your sights on the next objective.
Once you've formulated your goals, commit them to paper and post them where you'll see them frequently. This provides a sense of accountability. You can't forget them or sweep them under a rug. They're there in black and white to remind you why you need to train.
Whenever possible, create incentives to help you reach your goals. For example, if weight loss is desired, buy an expensive dress that's several sizes too small. The thought of having a beautiful dress sitting unused in your closet should be enough of an impetus to get you in the gym.
Alternatively, have your significant other agree to take you away on a romantic vacation if you drop a certain number of pounds. Getting others involved in your fitness efforts will provide a support network that can spur you on to greater heights.
Once you accomplish goals, you should immediately set new ones. This will keep you focused in your efforts and allow you to maintain a high degree of motivation.
Goals should be reviewed on a periodic basis to make sure that they are consistent with your current objectives. Goals will often change as you progress in your fitness endeavors and reevaluating your position will help to ensure lasting compliance.
Start setting goals now and you'll fall into a fitness routine you can stick with.
Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS is one of America's leading fitness experts. He's the author of six books, including Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover and the bestseller Look Great Naked. Schoenfeld is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and as a personal trainer by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America; he's been named "master trainer" by the International Association of Fitness Professionals. He owns and operates the Personal Training Center for Women in Scarsdale, NY. Check out his website at http://www.lookgreatnaked.com