Lots of people make fitness goals, but few keep them longer than a few weeks. The primary reason is that developing new habits is hard, yet it’s the very key to lasting success. If you want to turn your next fitness goal into a long-term, healthy habit, here are a few tips:
Make Sure Your Goals are Measurable – One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting fitness goals is they that are too vague. Instead of “get healthier,” set a goal to lose a certain number of pounds or inches by a goal date, or to exercise for an hour at least three times per week. It’s much easier to see how much progress you’ve made when you have goals that are quantifiable and measurable.
Create a Baseline – Whether your goal is related to fitness, money, relationships, or something else, it’s important to create a baseline so that you can see how far you’ve progressed in a few weeks or months. If you’re working to lose weight, document your current weight and your body measurements. Take repeat measurements at checkpoints throughout your journey and celebrate your accomplishments. If you’re trying to eat healthier, set a daily caloric intake goal and keep a food diary to document your current caloric intake and track how you’ve decreased calories or increased nutrients as you make progress.
Enlist a Friend to Keep You Accountable – When you have no one to be accountable to but yourself, it’s easy to make excuses for not sticking to your health commitments. Find a gym buddy or a jogging partner; you’ll be less likely to flake when it means letting someone else down. Even if you don’t have a friend or family member pursuing the same interests, you can still let others in on your plans and ask them to hold you accountable.
Plant Reminders in Convenient Locations – Use visual cues to remind you about your goals throughout the day. For instance, keep your gym bag by the door or your swim goggles on the passenger seat of your car. These gentle reminders will nudge you to stick to your commitments and remind you of your goals. Plus, if your gym bag is looming in your peripheral vision, you’ll be less likely to forget to stop at the fitness center on your way home from work.
Reward Yourself for Sticking to Your Goals – Rewards are just as sweet when they come from yourself as they are when you’re recognized by others. To help you stay motivated, set check-in points and allow yourself a reward when you’ve reached each milestone. For instance, get a massage for every 10 or 15 consecutive days you’ve gotten a daily workout in. If your goal is to run two miles each day, reward yourself with a new pair of shoes or a great pair of jogging pants after you’ve logged 30 miles. Incremental steps are often the key to success, and rewards make it that much easier to commit.
Creating new healthy habits is challenging, but it’s achievable when you set smart, measurable goals, document your progress over time, enlist the aid of an accountability partner, and allow yourself some sweet rewards as you hit incremental goals. Don’t give up on your fitness goals until you’ve used these strategies to turn them into lifelong habits.
Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast and avid cyclist. She enjoys writing about fitness and health for Learn Fit.
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