How to set your fitness goals to ensure long-term success
Wednesday 6th November 2019
As part of a campaign with Voltarol and The London Evening Standard we are writing 6 articles. Below the first of them:
There is a common misconception that we always have to workout intensely to get in shape. This alone can be enough to stop someone from exercising, and the mere thought of entering a gym can create a feeling of overwhelm.
It can seem like a long road back to fitness if you have never worked out before or you are just returning to exercise. The good news is that the start is actually the easiest time to see tangible progress quickly.
Before you set off on your fitness journey, you need to know the final destination - which is why goal setting is so important.
You are essentially creating a business plan - your blueprint for success. The only difference is that you are swapping a company and replacing it with your body.
Your bigger vision
Take a moment to ponder this question: what is your fitness goal? If your answer is to lose weight, get fit and feel healthier then I want you think again.
Let me explain why.
Everyone wants to look and feel better but we will all have a different definition of exactly what that means. When a goal is vague it can be difficult to measure success.
Instead, take some time to really consider what the perfect outcome looks like to you. Be ambitious, no matter how challenging your long-term goal may seem.
It was once deemed impossible to run a marathon in less than two hours. That was until Eliud Kipchoge ran the distance in 1 hour 59 minutes and 40 seconds. He said shortly after the race, 'after 65 years, I am the first man! I want to inspire many people, that no human is limited'.
Kipchoge's achievement didn't come without planning. He decided the bigger vision before setting achievable targets to ensure he stayed on track. You can do the same with your goal.
Once you have decided your 'bigger vision', the next step is to break it down into smaller targets. These are your quarterly goals.
Let's pretend that your goal is to run a marathon, but right now you would struggle to run around the block. If you only focused on the long-term vision then you may quickly become overwhelmed and see it as unobtainable.
Instead, set a 90-day goal which is ambitious but achievable. Your initial target could be to run non-stop for 2 miles. Although still challenging, this is suddenly doable.
Then you could plan to increase your running distance by say 3 miles every quarter, which would result in running 23 miles in 2 years, you would then be marathon ready.
After setting your quarterly goals, you can break it down even further into bi-weekly targets. These should be achievable, and will ensure that you continuously enjoy small wins.
You could begin by running slowly around the block, before progressively increasing the distance every two weeks until you achieve your quarterly objective of 2 miles.
When you achieve a goal you will get a hit of a chemical called dopamine, which feels good and will leave you wanting more. When you add the endorphin high that comes from exercising into the mix, you will suddenly have an exercise induced cocktail of feel good chemicals leaving you buzzing.
The feeling of success soon becomes addictive and you this will help to engrain an exercise habit; before long it will become just part of who you are.
The key is to find the right balance between the effort that you put in compared to the reward that you get back. If you go too hard at the start then the effort will outweigh the reward and you may give up, but if you can get it just right then you will have found the golden nugget for success.
It's time to start planning your perfect outcome. No goal is unachievable, small steps lead to big strides.