We have made the case on the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle by confirming the positive effects an exercise programme will have on your overall wellbeing. In this article, we will be exploring reasons for exercising and setting fitness goals.

We’ve highlighted before that your reason for exercising is unique – you may be exercising for recreation, for health reasons, for competition, to maintain a specific appearance or to maintain sufficient physical activity to maintain a healthy body. Each choice you make will influence your fitness goals.

Exercising is a personal experience, and it is linked to your abilities, preferences, schedule and access to facilities. It does not help that you plan to do strength exercises with weights but you do not have access to the relevant equipment needed.

All of these considerations will be assessed in the next article where we will start choosing exercise programmes. But right now, we need to find your reason and get going!

Why is it that we appoint financial experts and tax specialists to manage our finances but when it comes to our health we ‘do what we can or what we have time for?’ Does this make any sense? What does it take to get you going? Like everything in life – creating a plan and setting goals is critical for success.

Fitness GoalsFitness goals provide focus and should be motivational. The aim is to achieve them – not just plan to plan. Thus, set the goals that you can reach, once you have allowed exercise to become part of your daily activities, your fitness goals can be adjusted.

Let us discuss planning and setting fitness goals.

1. Do it now

There is no reason to wait for ‘Monday’, ‘New Years’ resolutions’, ‘December holiday beach body’ excuses. Start today, not tomorrow, next week or next month. Get up from your chair, couch, or bed and start planning (as soon as you finish reading this article – of course).

2. Write down your reason for exercising 

Verbalise your reason for exercising and be specific. “I will lose 10 kilograms by December 2021.” OR “I will reduce my risk for heart disease by making better health decisions.” Avoid setting ‘negative’ goals like: “I don’t want to be fat anymore.” Choose motivating goals that will achieve changed behaviour.

Keep your reason close to you at all times and remind yourself about the ‘why’ every day (especially on those rainy days when getting home is your only wish).

3. Measurable, Achievable, Timed (M.A.T)

Use the goal you established and break it down into objectives that you can measure and achieve. Then, set a timeframe for each activity.

As with budgeting activities, set your baseline information: weigh yourself, assess your body fat percentage (or visceral fat percentage) and do some kind of fitness assessment. There are countless applications (apps) you can download (for free) which could assist you with this. Or, go to a professional (either a nutritionist or personal trainer) for help. This will help you track your progress.

When you have your baseline information – work out a plan to reach your goal. Journal your progress (either using an app or a diary) and your workout sessions.

Work out an achievable plan and allow yourself and your body time to adjust to your new task. Be realistic when you set these objectives – you will not lose five kilograms a week on a healthy weight loss programme. Remember, you need to maintain the plan even after you reached your goals.

4. Write your challenges/excuses down and address them

Write down your (usual) excuses for not exercising and then answer them. For example, I do not have time to exercise. Your answer: If I do not start taking better care of myself, time will not be my only problem. Stop allowing laziness to make your life choices and take control. 

Be frank, be specific, be realistic and stop indulging excuses. See challenges as opportunities to grow beyond your current situation and toward an improved version of yourself – as you deserve it!

5. Make sacrifices

If you were asked to put more effort into saving for your next holiday/home improvement initiative or new appliance you want, you will work out a budget and work out everything precisely to the last cent to make it happen. You will sacrifice going to a restaurant, or visiting friends over a long weekend so that you can save that money right?

Why is it so difficult to make the sacrifices needed to reach your fitness goal? Are they less important? Have we not argued that an investment in your health is the most important investment you will make? Is getting up 30 minutes earlier such a stretch if you consider the benefits you will gain in the long run?

Identify the sacrifices you will have to make, acknowledge them, make peace with them and just do it.

6. Tell someone

Make your goals known to someone or everyone. Through your journey you will need support – it takes a village! Tell your colleague, partner, sister, brother, friends – anyone who you know will support you in your journey. Stick to the people who will encourage you and keep you focussed and motivated (even if you have to pay them to do it). Post your goals online if you have to, or measure your progress with a photo log.

7. Take action every day

Decide to be healthy every day. Staying healthy and doing what you need to do is a daily choice – choose your health daily. Step out of your comfort zone and embrace progress with enthusiasm (no matter how small it is).

Stay focussed, patient and determined and you will reach the long-term goals you identified.

Today is, after all, the first day of the rest of your life. Be sure to get our next instalment on exercise programmes and equipment.

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