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Realistic Fitness Goals: Setting Yourself Up For Success

By: Holly Smith, M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

realistic fitness goals

Life is hectic. Between work, family, and your social life, it can be tough to stay on track with your fitness goals. But are you even setting realistic fitness goals in the first place?

Exercise at times can feel like a chore!

And it can be especially daunting when you set lofty, long-term goals.

There is nothing wrong with setting the bar high. However, it can be helpful to choose more short-term, realistic fitness goals along the way to reaching your long-term goals.

By changing your mindset, you will be able to stay motivated as you reach new, smaller, everyday goals.

You may have set a goal to lose “X” amount of pounds or drop two dress sizes.

However, as much as being lean and fit is important for long-term health, fitness is not just about a weight or clothing size.

Exercise and healthy eating has numerous benefits.

We all know that exercise is important for our physical health.

On top of that, exercise itself can improve your mood, decrease stress levels, and help you feel empowered as a woman.

But sometimes women can get discouraged and give up on their goals if they can't reach them right away.

That's where setting realistic fitness goals come into play.

Already hit a fitness goal? Here's how to stay focused and on track!

Tips For Setting Realistic Fitness Goals

Set Reasonable One-Week or Daily Goals

It’s great to set the bar high with your goals, but sometimes your long-term goal may seem too challenging.

So instead set some short-term goals to reach along the way!

For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, set a goal to lose one pound a week.

As you reach this weekly goal, you will be more encouraged to stick to your workouts and healthy eating habits.

If you try to lose all that weight at once you are more likely to get discouraged when you don't see the payoffs right away.

Learn to effectively achieve your goals by starting to simplify your weight loss journey!

Make Performance Goals

While weight loss always seems to be a major victory for women looking to get into shape, performance goals are even more fun to achieve.

Knowing that you can achieve physical goals based on strength and endurance is truly gratifying.

So stop focusing on the scale when you plan your workouts.

Here are some ideas depending on your own personal goals and the types of exercises you prefer.

  • Running: If you are a former runner, or looking to start from scratch, you may have made a goal to finish a 5K. Along the way to this goal, set little mini-goals every week. You can try to run non-stop for 5 minutes, or improve your mile time by 10 seconds.
  • Group Exercise: If you prefer working out in a group, make it a goal to go to two classes a week.
  • Swimming: For women who love working out in the pool, try to increase the distance you swim by a few laps every session. Another idea is to master a new stroke, like breaststroke or backstroke.
  • Weight Lifting: For your resistance workouts, make a goal to squat an extra five pounds over a couple of weeks, or to increase your reps by one or two. Not only will this push you to improve your fitness, but it will also ensure that you are recording your progress.

These are just a few ideas to set small, performance-related goals.

By attaining these small victories, you will also be gaining muscle, building endurance, and shedding fat.

This will all get you closer to your long-term fitness goals.

Diet Related Goals Count Too!

Changing your health habits is one of the hardest parts of losing weight.

But you don’t need to revamp everything overnight.

Making small, attainable dietary goals will make changing your eating habits that much easier.

For example, if you drink a lot of sugary soft drinks, it may seem impossible to completely cut this out of your diet all at once.

Instead, start by limiting yourself to one soda a day and increase your water intake.

And it's not just sugary beverages that can hamper weight loss. Even replacing diet soft drinks with water has been found to help increase weight loss in women.

Eventually, as you cut slowly back you will realize you don't even want to drink these anymore. And you will feel so much better when you are well hydrated!

On another note, you don't have to cut out all fast food or treats.

Most people find that when they completely restrict themselves from the foods they enjoy, they end up binging on them later.

The key is to cut back slowly and limit your portion sizes. This way you can improve your eating habits without feeling deprived.

Learn how to create a healthier lifestyle and body with these 5 actionable tips!

Visualize Reaching Your Goals

Research has found that mental imagery has actually been found to improve performance when done prior to an activity.

When you visualize success, you actually stimulate the same parts of your brain as when you physically perform that same action.

This makes visualization a great way to condition your mind to reach your goals.

When you visualize yourself reaching your goals this will motivate you to actually work towards achieving them.

This could be anything from crossing the finish line at a race you’ve signed up for, achieving your target weight or body fat percentage, or even finishing a tough workout.

Don't Give Up!

Everyone has ups and downs on their path to achieving their fitness goals.

When you feel like you are working hard and not seeing progress, the trick is to make some short-term, realistic fitness goals.

As you reach these mini-victories this will push you towards your long-term goals!

Holly Smith

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Mother Meal Plan with easy recipes for you and your family.
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Mother 30X Workout (under 90 min/week) to kickstart your metabolism for fast fat burning.
  • VIP email coaching where we’ll personally walk you through the program.
Learn More About FM30X

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on realistic fitness goals.

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