Top 5 Tips to Make Your Fitness Goals Stick

Eugene Adams

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Do you have a fitness-related New Year’s Resolution? If you do, you are not alone. This Inc.com survey found that the top ten most common New Year’s Resolutions were,

1. Diet or eat healthier (71 percent)

2. Exercise more (65 percent)

3. Lose weight (54 percent)

4. Save more and spend less (32 percent)

5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26 percent)

6. Quit smoking (21 percent)

7. Read more (17 percent)

8. Find another job (16 percent)

9. Drink less alcohol (15 percent)

10. Spend more time with family and friends (13 percent)

As you can see, the top three were all fitness related. Unfortunately, only 12% of people achieve most or all of their New Year’s Resolutions, according to Statista.

Here are 5 tips that will make you more likely to be in that 12%.

1. Make Sure Your Goal Is Realistic but Ambitious

It is important to set a goal that is realistic for two reasons.

  1. You fail before you even start if your goal isn’t possible.
  2. Unrealistic fitness goals are often unsafe.

What is the point of setting a goal that you know is impossible? You will just be setting yourself up for failure. If your goal involves weight loss, keep in mind that the CDC recommends losing at most 1–2 pounds per week. Losing weight faster than that puts you at risk for many health problems. Setting an unrealistic weight loss goal will either end in failure or succeed dangerously.

That doesn’t mean your goal should not be ambitious. If your goal is too realistic, you risk two things.

  1. Getting bored and not finishing the goal.
  2. Achieving a goal that you don’t care about.

Two examples of bad goals would be,

  1. Lose 50 pounds in 2 months. (unrealistic)
  2. Lose 2 pounds in 1 year. (unambitious)

Pick a goal that is difficult but still possible.

2. Make Sure Your Goal Is Specific and Measurable

There are two big problems with goals that are not specific enough.

  1. You won’t know if you achieved the goal.
  2. Vague goals are unmeasurable.

“I want to get in better shape” is an example of a vague goal. It won't be easy to know if you achieved that goal at the end of the year. You need to be more specific so that you know how to measure whether you are in better shape.

Examples of specific goals:

  1. Lose 15 pounds of fat.
  2. Gain 5 pounds of muscle.
  3. Run a 7-minute mile.
  4. Complete a marathon.

All four of those goals are measurable. You know whether or not you achieved them.

Measurable goals are also crucial for tracking your progress. Tracking your progress tells you if your plan is working or if you need to make adjustments.

3. Break Your Goal Down Into Actionable Steps

Once you have a specific goal, the next step is to lay out a plan to achieve that goal. The purpose of a plan is to make sure you are headed in the right direction.

Your plan doesn’t need to be overly detailed. Plans never go perfectly and always need to be adjusted anyway.

Break your plan down into several easy to follow steps. Then, measure your progress. Your progress will tell you whether or not your plan needs adjustments.

4. Give Yourself Permission to Not Be Perfect

Nobody is perfect, and no plan is perfect either. Chasing perfection will achieve nothing other than leaving you disappointed.

If you miss a workout or eat too many cookies, it’s ok. Beating yourself up about it is unlikely to help anyway.

Permitting yourself to be imperfect will help you avoid one of the biggest traps people fall into; the all-or-nothing mentality. The all-or-nothing mentality is when someone completely abandons the plan since it is not perfect anyway.

Common examples of this mentality are:

  • I missed one workout this week. So I might as well skip them all.
  • I already went over my calories for the day, so I might as well eat more.

This mentality is a goal killer. Don’t fall into that trap. Missing one workout is better than missing three. Going 500 calories over your diet is better than going 2000 calories over. A half workout is better than no workout.

As long as you are trying, you don’t have to be perfect.

5. Never Miss Twice

This tip is my favorite because it’s simple. Never miss twice.

We all miss once. No matter how good our plan is, life happens. Kids get sick, bosses make you work late, cars break down, etc. We all miss a workout or have a bad diet day every so often.

The trick is not to let those things become a habit. If you miss something one day, work extra hard to get it done the next day.

Final Thought

Every year millions of people make fitness-related New Year’s Resolutions. Every year a majority of them fail.

You don’t have to be part of the majority. Follow these 5 steps, and you will be well on your way to being part of the 12% that succeed.

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Certified Personal Trainer | I mostly write about all things Southern California, but I also cover national topics.

Fontana, CA
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