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How can I reach my exercise goals?

An exercise tracker can be a great tool to help you reach your fitness goals.

The USDA’s SuperTracker is a free online tool that currently helps 1.5 million consumers to eat healthier, manage their weight and reach their physical activity goals.

SuperTracker's features allow you to:

  • Create a customized appropriate, calorie allowance based on your gender, age, activity level, and weight goals.  
  • Journal your food intake, which research has shown can help you lose weight and keep it off.
  • Track what and how much you eat in order to see how your current diet stacks up against your customized plan.
  • Monitor the intensity and duration of your daily physical activity.
  • Interact with a virtual coach that will give you “how-to” tips and feedback related to your goals.

You can find SuperTracker at ChooseMyPlate.gov.

 

Choose one or two things you'd like to try to get started with exercise and physical activity. Then set a realistic, achievable plan to make it happen.

Keep track of your activity. You might find that writing everything down helps keep you on target. Think about what works best for you. You might try a notebook, calendar, spreadsheet, cell phone, or online activity tracker to log and record your progress.

It may be helpful to meet on a regular basis with others who are also trying to be active. Think about joining a group for exercise or general support, or find a walking buddy. Then work together to reach your goals.

A word you will often hear with goal setting is the word, realistic. It is extremely important that you strive to set goals that are challenging and exciting but they must be based in reality. If it's true that, "well begun is half done" (Aristotle) then it is important that you really think about your goals before you start. What do you want? When do you want it by? And most important of all, WHY do you want to achieve this goal?

Once you have decided on your goal(s), you can now go to work creating a timeline and plan of action to get there. Remember, start smart, start small and always have a game plan.

  • Start Smart: Decide on your goal and study what it will take to reach it. Learn about safe, effective exercise and proper nutrition. Ask you doctor if you are fit for exercise. If necessary, ask for assistance from an educated professional.
  • Start Small: Beware of any problem with only one solution. Always look at your goal and select 2-3 smaller goals and actions you can take that will make your ultimate success more manageable. The initial, smaller goals/actions should be easy to enact but still have a great impact.
  • Game Plan: You would not drive from New York to California without a roadmap right? The same is true for your goals. Take your fitness goal apart and plan out your workouts (what exercises and when), your nutrition (how many calories and what foods) and in your calendar when you will measure your success. Do not be afraid to weigh in, take circumference measurements or take a good look in the mirror and see if you are on your way towards your goal. Remember, "What get's measured, get's done."

 

Reaching your exercise goals is about commitment and determination as much as being an active and accountable participant. Take some time to clearly define the "why" behind what you're doing and create a plan you can stick to as fitness is a lifestyle not a short term effort. 

I find that setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can give you the best chance at success.  Here's what I'm talking about:

S specific: Decide what it is you want to do and go after it, but be specific. "I want to live a healthier life" rather than "I need to lose 22 lbs" Think big picture here.

M measurable: Set goals that you can measure along the way and don't forget to celebrate each success along the way!

A achievable: Your goals must be achievable. That doesn't mean you can't reach or stretch yourself, but you want to be able to do what you set out to do. This builds confidence and increases your chances of long-term success.

R realistic: It's easier said than done but keeping goals in check is very important. When we get started with anything, we're usually quite motivated and can bite off more than we can chew. Be realistic and you may find yourself exceeding the goals you set for yourself.

T timely: Place timelines on your goals. It's not a great idea to leave things open-ended. Doing so gives you a way out or an opportunity to slip away from accountability. Set milestones like you would for business and you'll hit them!

Once your head is in the game, your body will quickly follow and you'll reach your exercise goals and live a healthier life!

If your goal is just to exercise than it is merely a matter of following through with your commitment but most goals have a reason behind them. I believe if you are setting a goal it is to achieve a desired result. The most important part of setting a goal is making sure it is realistic and has an accountable timeline. Once you have that all you need is a plan to fulfill your timeline. This is where a health and fitness coach can be of service. Let me know your thoughts.
In setting goals it's important to think realistically (doing some exercise but not too much exercise) about setting 2-3 small, short term goals that come out of your long term goals: for example, losing weight and the ability to be active with my family. Those goals should include intent (intending to go to the gym) and effort (I was able to climb one or two more stairs). As you find yourself reaching one goal you'll find your confidence increasing to reach the next goal. You will also need to take into consideration what "things" help you to exercise: groups, friends and family and what "things" get in the way of exercising: time, energy, work and motivation. Once you are aware of what things you need to exercise and what gets in the way, you are better able to incorporate those into your goals to help you move forward and build confidence. For example, if you don't like to workout alone, then it's important to be aware of that, add that to your goals and find someone to workout with you. If work is a barrier to exercise, add that to your goals and find a way to either incorporate exercise into your work or add it before or after your work.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.