Setting fitness and health goals

Setting Fitness and Health Goals

Setting fitness and health goals is a great way to increase motivation and create positive change.

However, what types of goals you set can make or break your health and fitness journey.

In this article we outline how to set effective goals so you can get your health and fitness on track without losing motivation.

By Coach Hunter Bennett

How to set good fitness and health goals

Setting fitness and health goals

1. Identify the ‘WHY’ Behind Your Goals

Before setting specific goals there is value in reflecting on the deeper motivations behind your fitness journey.

Identify the real reasons that drive your desire for change. Maybe you want to improve your health so you can spend more time with your kids, maybe you want to lose weight to feel more confident, or maybe you want to get stronger to feel more capable.

Whatever the reasons, understanding your ‘why’ makes your goals more meaningful and easier to commit to.

2. Choose Approach Goals Over Avoidance Goals

Approach based goals are those that add something to your life. For example, eating a serve of vegetables with every meal, or getting in at least 7,500 steps per day.

Conversely, avoidance goals are those that involve removing something from your life. For example, cutting out carbs, or stopping drinking alcohol.

Research suggests that framing goals positively by using an approach-based method, rather than via negative avoidance goals, can enhance motivation. Instead of focusing on what you want to avoid, concentrate on what you aim to achieve.

Not only does this stop you feeling as if you are missing out on things you enjoy, but often these approach-based behaviours lead to reductions in negative habits.

For example, if you have a goal to eat more vegetables, you will naturally be less likely to snack on unhealthy foods throughout the day because you will be less hungry.

3. Use Process-Oriented Goals Instead of Outcome Goals

Outcome based goals are those that focus on the result of your fitness journey. For example, losing a certain amount of weight, or adding a certain number of kilos to your squat.

On the other hand, process-oriented goals are goals that focus on the process that leads to these outcomes. Some examples could include eating more vegetables, getting in a minimum of four workouts per week, or squatting twice per week.

While having a clear outcome in mind is not bad, your ability to achieve them is often dictated by external factors outside your control. Additionally, because they can seem quite far away, focusing on the outcome in isolation can cause you to lose motivation.

With that in mind, shifting your focus towards process-oriented goals can create sustainable habits that lead to health and fitness success. Moreover, achieving these goals on a daily or weekly basis can keep your motivated in the long-term.

Focus on the process, and the outcome will work itself out.

4. Create Flexible Goals Instead of Rigid Ones

Setting fitness and health goals

While setting clear goals can be a great way to increase motivation, being too strict with your goals can also cause issues.

If your current goal is to train four times per week, and you only train three, you might feel like a failure. However, zooming out it becomes obvious that three solid gym sessions is still a massive achievement, and more than enough to create progress.

As such, creating flexibility in your goals is a great way to keep enjoyment high in the face of life’s ups and downs.

Some examples of flexible goals include getting to the gym 2-4 times per week, running at least once per week (anything extra is a bonus), eating 2-3 serves of vegetables per day, or getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night.

You get the idea.

Life is dynamic, and unexpected challenges often (read: always) arise. Setting goals with flexibility promotes resilience and prevents discouragement when faced with life’s many unforeseen circumstances.

5. Modify Your Environment to Support Your Goals

Lastly, it is important to acknowledge that your environment plays a big role in shaping your habits. As a result, making intentional changes to your surroundings is essential to support your health and fitness goals.

This could include blocking out time in your calendar for workouts and treating them like appointments, not keeping any snacks in the house, meal prepping to have healthy options readily available, surrounding yourself with a supportive social network, or making sure your TV is off and your phone is down by 10pm.

A conducive environment can seriously streamline the path to success and make achieving your goals MUCH easier.

Setting fitness and health goals: Conclusion

Goal setting can be an important step in any health and fitness journey. However, if you approach them wrong way, they can do more harm than good.

But by following the tips outlined in this article you can make some effective goals and set yourself up for some serious long-term success.

Want to read more? Check out our article on minimalist strength training

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