When you hear "goal setting", what is the first feeling you have? Mine used to be dread. All I could think about was my end goal, my end weight, how far I wanted to be able to run and how short of a time it would take for me to get there. It was overwhelming, I felt like I was NEVER going to reach my goals. Not a great way to start out, huh?
Even though we may dread it, goal setting is an integral part of a successful fitness/nutrition program. However, we can't let ourselves get overwhelmed with our goals. We need to feel motivated by our goals. Your goals should be written down and posted somewhere you can see them multiple times each day. Seek out social support and share your goals with others. As scary as sharing is—it helps keep you accountable to yourself because you know that other people are watching.
Outcome vs Behavioral Goals
First, let’s start with types of goals. There are two types of goals that I use when assisting clients with goal creation - outcome goals and behavioral goals.
First, we set outcome based goals. Outcome based goals are goals that represent the change you want to see. This is the BIG picture. Examples of outcome based goals would be:
I want to lose 50 pounds of fat.
I want to fit into my old skinny jeans.
I want to look fabulous in a bikini this summer.
I want to improve my health (with specifics).
Once these have been established, we create behavioral goals. Behavioral goals reflect small action steps that you will take to achieve your outcome based goals. Behavioral goals differ from client to client depending on a number of determining factors. As an example, we will set behavioral goals for a client who wants to lose 50 pounds of fat, is a stay at home mom with two young children and has limited time to work-out. Behavioral goals would look like this:
-I will drink 100 ounces of water per day.
-I will work-out for 30 minutes 5 times per week and focus on creating a fitness habit.
-I will eat clean 80% of the time and take pictures of my meals.
-I will participate daily in an accountability group with other like-minded individuals.
-I will focus on positive self-talk/encouragement.
-I will make the time each week to plan for success.
Think of behavioral goals as stepping stones that you need to take to reach your outcome based goals. These are the goals you are going to reach along the way. You aren't going to reach an outcome goal in 7 days, but you sure can reach your behavioral goals each and every week. This is KEY to feeling SUCCESS!
Now that you understand these two types of goals, we can make these more specific. Experts tell us that goals should be specific, measurable, timed, realistic, inspiring and written down.
Goals should be specific. Setting a goal to “lose weight over the next few months" doesn’t cut it. How much do you want to lose total? What is your dream goal? Once you have created a specific goal, we can decide how to measure and time the goal.
In fitness, there are a number of measures we can use. We can use BMI, body fat %, weight or a more subjective visual based goal. Choose one or more of these measures and create your goals around these. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat. A 150 lb woman with a 35% body fat percentage and a 150lb woman with a 20% body fat percentage are going to look very different from one another. Weight should not be your only measure of success!
Goals should be timed. It is important to give yourself deadlines. I recommend breaking your larger goal into smaller stepping stones to keep yourself motivated and inspired. Changing your body does not happen overnight, so don’t start with these expectations. It really is realistic to lose only 1-2 lbs per week. Don't make a goal to lose 15 lbs in a month. It might happen, but its not realistic. Your goals need to attainable for your lifestyle and your body. Joining a challenge/social support group is a great way to voice your frustrations and learn what other people are doing to meet their goals.
Goals should be realistic and inspiring. Think about this for a moment. How long did it take you to get to where you are today? When did your poor habits start? Realistically, you didn't get to where you are now overnight. You aren't going to solve your problems overnight either. What you are going to do is start with small changes. I have clients tell me "I'm not doing enough, I'm an all or nothing person". Convince yourself otherwise. Being healthy isn't a month long program, it is a forever lifestyle change. To change your life, you need to start creating small, sustainable habits one at a time. One of these habits may be how you talk to yourself. When you feel scared or overwhelmed--tell yourself you can do this, you deserve it and feel empowered each time you make a healthy choice that brings you a step further to reaching those big goals!
If you aren't already writing your goals down--now is the time to go get a sheet of paper and get started. Do you have your pen and paper? Writing down your goals is one of the keys to success. If your goals are not written down and visible, it is too easy to lose sight of them! Write out your outcome based goals first and then use those to create behavioral goals on a separate piece of paper. Post your behavioral goals around the house so you don't lose sight of them. When I first started--my goals were on the fridge, on my mirror in the bathroom and in my office. Put your outcome based goals somewhere to re-visit on a monthly basis. You should be adjusting your behavioral goals each month.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed, feel free to email me for help or request to be placed in a challenge group where you can meet others who have gone through the same struggles you are facing. You are not alone in your desire to change your life, your health or your fitness level. Tell me how I can best help YOU.