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Goal Setting 101

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When we take that first step on the path toward a healthy lifestyle change, we may have grand ideas of the immediate body composition we want. The problem is, change – any change – takes time and a steady amount of effort to achieve. What we wish we could have overnight could take, weeks, months and years to achieve. And, in this world of instant gratification, it is very difficult to wait. When you aren’t seeing those immediate changes, it’s easy to give up, but a good trainer will help manage your expectations and teach you to create realistic goals for yourself. Losing 30 pounds in 3 weeks is not only unattainable, but it’s also an unhealthy goal because of the frustration you may feel when it doesn’t happen as quickly as you had hoped. And, in turn, it could make you lose sight of what you have accomplished at the end of those three weeks.

Always check in with yourself and answer these questions: Do you feel better? Do you sleep better? Do you have more energy? Is it easier to move around and do daily things? Is it easier to climb stairs without losing your breath? Do you feel better about yourself then you did when you started this program? Focus on those successes. Celebrate them, because they were hard-earned. No matter how small you may think they are, they are still getting you one step closer to your ultimate goal.

A 2001 Study from the University of Pennsylvania, showed that on average, overweight people will set their goal at losing more than 2/3rds of their body mass, which is about 3 times more then they need to lose in order to immediately improve their health. Setting un-reachable and often unrealistic goals is one of the fastest ways to stop a weight loss program in its tracks. That first failed attempt at reaching that goal is all it takes for people to give up and tell themselves it’s never going to happen. This self-fulfilling prophecy is so damning to a person’s mental health, that it will become true. As coaches in this industry, we are just as much attached to our clients as we are to their goals. It is not only our responsibility to keep them on track, but also to educate them and that means being honest with them, sometimes brutally honest, so we do not let them set themselves up for failure. They can achieve their goals, but they need to be reachable and attainable, so how do we do that for them?

Set Mini Goals. Don’t shoot for the moon right away, especially if you are just getting back into the gym. Instead of saying I want to drop 10 pounds this month, instead say, “I want to be in the gym for a minimum of 16 visits this month”. Just changing the narrative from a weight number to something such as the goal of gym visits works on a few levels: 1. it makes them more accountable for getting into the gym, and 2. if they complete that goal, they will probably get a bonus result when they step on the scale.

Always take some time to revisit your goals, alter them, change them as needed, set new ones along the way, write your goals down and look at them often. Know and accept that a healthy weight loss program is a marathon, not a sprint, it takes time and focus. Even if you only lose a ½ pound 1 week that’s still progress, so be happy and proud of even the little successes. Realistic goals will help improve physically but perhaps more important mentally, it will boost your self-esteem and remind you of your journey.

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