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Fitness Goals That Get Results

Fitness Goals That Get Results

Do your fitness goals propel you into action, or do they just make you feel guilty? If you have abandoned resolution after good intention, or if you have a hard time helping someone else with their desire to eat well, exercise or meditate regularly, get ready. This post will help you set goals that are excuse-proof.

Be Healthy, Be Well, Just Be

I was recently interviewed for some fitness goal setting tips by the team at Be Healthy, Be Well, Just Be. They were seeking to answer 3 important questions:

1. Should a fitness goal be metric driven (e.g. weight loss), lifestyle related (weight management), or something else?
2. What are the key factors to consider in determining a fitness goal and achieving it?
3. What problems do we commonly run up against that sabotages our ability to succeed?

What I shared with them is below. These are a few of the techniques Kathryn Britton and I wrote in Smarts and Stamina: The Busy Person’s Guide to Optimal Health and Performance. But if you don’t have our book yet, the full answers to the questions above are here.

A 3 Step Process To Set Fitness Goals That Will Move You Forward
“These are goals that carry you forward, and there are goals that just make you feel guilty” says Marie-Josee Shaar, MAPP, CPT, Founder & Author, Smarts and Stamina. Marie-Josee suggests setting a goal that will help you progress by leaps and bounds.

1. Positive States Make You Proactive – Frame each goal in terms of approaching a positive state, rather than avoiding a negative one. For example, “stop being a couch potato” will only make you feel guilty, weak and incapable. On the other hand, the goal of becoming more active is encouraging because it gives you a more positive image of yourself.

2. Behavioral Goals Support Action – Pick a behavioral goal instead of a result-oriented goal, because it allows you to be in control. For example, deciding that you will replace your mid-afternoon chocolate bar by a 10-minute walk is easier to manage than deciding to lose 10 pounds. Why? Because at the end of each day, you know if you’ve succeeded at maintaining your goal – and having eaten a heavier meal or a little extra water retention can’t dampen your appreciation of your efforts.

3. Make each goal specific and measurable – This allows you to get feedback along the way, which will help you stay focused. Imagine a goal of “working out as much as possible”. How do you know if you’ve worked out more this week than last week, versus what was “possible”? If you’re not sure whether you are making progress, it’s hard to stay motivated. On the other hand, if you decide you want to spend 90 minutes lifting plus 90 minutes jogging each week, it will be much clearer for you to see if you’ve made progress towards your goal.

Try these tips out for yourself or with your coaching clients, and let me know how it works. I’d love to hear from you.

More good tips in our book, or in the full article here.

  • I find your post quite informative. From my own experience of running a goal setting program, I can attest to the fact that behavorial goals are much more effective than purely results oriented ones, especially for health or change related goals.

  • Thanks for stopping by, Harry! Always good to get other opinions in the mix. 😉

  • Becky Hirst

    Great post. I am going to definitely use your advice. I am on a journey to better health- thanks to a book I recently read titled, “Get Well & Stay Well” by Steve Amoils, M.D. & Sandi Amoils, M.D.. After reading the book I realize the importance of being healthy that is my big motivation to making a goal- I want to be healthy.

  • All the best with your goal, Becky! Being healthy is definitely a worthwhile journey which will bring you increasing rewards as you progress. Congrats on making this decision!

    I don’t know where you are on this journey, but remember to work on one goal at a time, whether it is sleep, food, mood or exercise related. Those who try many goals at once often end up overwhelmed with all the changes. I also suggest you don’t start with a goal that is in your weakness zone – in other words, if exercise is what is most difficult for you, then you’re probably better off working on sleep, mood or food first. Doing so will already help you feel better subjectively and objectively, thus helping you build on initial victories. You’ll be able to get an upward spiral going, making exercise easier to change a little later. Does that make sense? All the details of this process are in our book if you’d like more info on it.

    Once again, I wish you all the best as you progress towards ever-increasing health!


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MJ Shaar – in 20 seconds

MJ is one of the most sought-after experts blending positive psychology and health promotion. She spent over 15 years coaching, teaching, speaking, researching and testing smart health habits. Marie-Josée Shaar received her undergrad at McGill University in Organizational Behavior, followed by a Master of Applied Positive Psychology at University of Pennsylvania. She's certified as a Wellness Culture Coach, a Personal Trainer, and a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.

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