How to set fitness goals and achieve them

How to set fitness goals and achieve them


Another year has gone by and summer is around the corner!
What did you accomplish last year? Did you have any plans or goals? Did you set your goals and then forgot all about them? Did you follow your plan to its completion? Did you not set goals at all? How about this year?
What are you going to do this year to change your life and move forward? Well (if you haven’t done it on New Year’s day), spring is a good time to establish some solid fitness goals!

I know what you’re thinking… “What is she talking about? There is no time to focus on fitness!”. It’s true that in our modern society, our lives are more fast paced than ever before. Longer hours at the office, technology and its various applications competing for our attention over multiple devices – whether we’re at home, in the office or on the move-, constantly raising standards and social pressures are all putting us in a never ending struggle to get an ever increasing amount of things done in just 24 hours.

What about our health and wellbeing? Where does that fall into the picture? Is it even in the picture, or is it always the first to fall down to other priorities? Ask anyone if it’s important to remain fit and healthy and you’ll definitely hear a quick “yes”. But you will most probably receive a long pause if you ask them what they do to keep fit, or what fitness is all about.

To begin with, let’s establish a common understanding of what fitness is. The term “fitness” is difficult to define, as fitness for a specific task or lifestyle differs from person to person. For example, someone who works in front of a computer for 40 hrs a week “needs” a different level of fitness than someone who teaches yoga for 20 hrs a week. We can say that fitness is the ability to perform all the necessary tasks of your day to day life, and still have something extra in reserve. So one person’s fitness is being able to play football once a week, whilst for another it may mean being able to compete at a high level within their chosen sport. Whatever the reason, the goals and objectives remain the same; to increase potential and improve their physical situation.



Don’t get me wrong: if you work in front of a computer for 40hrs a week and your “being fit” equals “being able to play football once a week”, I am not here to reassure you. Most health organisations worldwide report that someone who is physically active for seven hours per week is 40 percent less likely to die early than someone who’s active for less than an hour per week. So, if your job is sedentary, a football match once a week won’t do the trick. Remaining fit reduces your risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and many types of cancer.

By all this I mean… if you’re not the “active type”, you need to get yourselves up and moving! Improving your physical situation could be anything from losing weight or improving fitness to something as specific as training for an event.

Need some help getting there? Here are a few of my top tips.

Establish your fitness goals
One thing to remember is to make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Don’t be subjective. I meet people every day who say they want to be able to “fit into a dress”, “look good on the beach” or just “get fit”. This won’t get you far. Your goals need to be formed either as “habits” -e.g. I will walk 2km 4 times a week for the next month / I will get to the gym 3 times a week for the next 3 months- or “outcomes” – e.g. I want to run my first 10K in June / I want to be able to do 20 proper pushups by the end of May-. Start with setting goals that you can meet and when you achieve them, set more specific goals. If you decide to go about it alone and not with the help of a professional, find ways to keep yourself accountable to what you have set out to achieve. The top two reasons why people fail in reaching their goals is that they don’t know how to follow through till completion and that they do not measure what they are trying to achieve.

Have a schedule and a plan
Schedule exercise in your calendar, as it’s not going to happen in a parallel universe whilst you are replying to emails or running chores. Training has to fit in your day. Just as you plan your meetings, commute time, shopping, cooking or whatever it is that you have to do every day, you also need to make time for your fitness; whether that be squeezing in an hour to make it to the gym before work, making it to that tennis match or hitting an HIIT class before heading home for dinner. If you’re a gym rat, plan the best time of day for you to exercise when you are not going to be fighting everybody else for the equipment. If you travel a lot, see if you can find a hotel with a gym or a park close-by and make sure you pack your training clothes. If you miss a class at the gym, have a back-up plan to keep yourself active on that day. The idea is that if you don’t book it and plan for it, it won’t happen.

Use a training journal
I do this with most people that I coach and it works wonders. As I always try to educate people on how to stay committed, I want to make them accountable to what they want to achieve. Writing down your goals and the steps you are taking to reach them makes it tougher to blow off training sessions and creates motivation, helping you stay on track. A training journal is also very useful in identifying patterns, spotting out things that don’t work for you and  building confidence that you’ll get where you’re headed. Keeping a diary will help you see your progress, even if that means looking back after 3 months and praising yourself for all those times that you sticked to the plan and completed that workout.

Use all the support you can get
If you’re new or returning to exercise after a long break, or if you want to up the number of hours you devote to fitness, see if you can recruit a friend to start working out with you. I always ring up a couple of friends when I decide to try something new. You can see this as a very good excuse to get together with your current friends. If you can’t find any, don’t hesitate to talk to that guy or girl next to you at the gym class or the person who seems a bit lost next to the lat pulldown machine. Another thing you might need to do is talk to your boss, family or spouse about your fitness goals and explain to them how important they are for your productivity and your well-being. You might have to set limits with your boss -which they might not like, especially if you are the one always locking up the office on weekdays, so good luck with that! Things at home will hopefully be a bit easier to navigate; you just have to discuss with your spouse on how often, when and what they need to do to help you, e.g. take the kids some place, wash the dishes, do the shopping or run an errand so that you can get that hour of training in. I know a lot of couples that take turns with their training and running the household.

Be flexible and dont give up
This is the all or nothing trap. Quite a few of the people I’ve worked with used to be like “if I miss a day of training, it’s ok to relax for the rest of the week – I’ll start over on Monday”. No! Same goes with nutrition: “if I slip up and eat a piece of cake, it’s ok to not take care of my nutrition for the rest of the week, I can pick up on Monday”. This always leaves you feeling discouraged, guilty and unable to reach your goals. You need to recognise that you can’t always be 100% correct. Whenever you slip up, get back on track as soon as possible. Always focus on where you’re headed and what you can do, not on what you can’t do or what you’ve done wrong.

Another thing you might want to remind yourselves constantly throughout is that you need to be consistent in order to see results. A 3 – month adherence to your workout and nutrition plan is the minimum you’ll need to start seeing results, especially if you’re new to exercise or returning after a long break.

Last thing I’d like to say is, you need to be working on your fitness goals year round, not just remember about them when it’s time to wear your bikini to go to the beach…

So, get yourselves a paper and pen, find a quiet and comfortable spot and think about the goals you want to set for yourself over the next 4 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and for the whole year. Think about what you want, where you are, where you want to be and how you will get there!

What do you hope to achieve? What’s your vision?

Till next time,