(That you can actually achieve!)
Years back when I signed up for my first fitness competition it all felt so easy.
All I had to do was exactly the follow the plan my trainer laid out for me and I’d look like a bikini cover model in just 5 months!
Well I was wrong 😛
Following the plan was the easy part (yes, I’m weird…I think prepping for a bikini competition is easy), but I was nowhere near what I thought I’d look like.
Why, what did I do wrong?!
(I bet you’ve asked yourself that when you don’t reach your fitness goal.)
Thing is, I did nothing wrong.
A fitness goal and a plan to get there is just that, a goal and a plan. It’s is not a 100% guarantee or ‘your money-back’ type of thing.
I’m sorry. I wish it were like that too.
It’s not guaranteed because the future isn’t guaranteed.
But you knew that.
(Yes, that means all of those Instagram videos promoting programs for a ‘Bikini Body in 30 Days’ just might NOT work for you. But don’t worry, it’s not you, its the program.)
So why is that the case?
It all comes down to 1 big thing;
Both within and out of our control.
Here’s what I mean by variables:
Within your control:
Access to the right equipment/gym, diet choices (i mean the ‘way you eat’ not a weight-loss diet), the time you devote to your fitness goal, your effort, stress, sleep, etc
Out of your control (for the time being):
Genetics, injuries/health issues, external constraints on your time and energy levels (i.e. Work, volunteer commitments, family, etc)
Even though we have variables within our control, trying to ‘control’ all of them can be plain exhausting and overwhelming. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.
So you do your best with the hand you’re given.
There is never an end to your fitness journey. You’ll constantly be setting and reaching new fitness goals over your lifetime!
Let’s think of setting and achieving a fitness goal like a science experiment.
Just like those ones you did in middle-school!
The ones where you flipped through your science textbook to ‘gather your data’, you set your hypothesis using the data you had (and with your teacher’s guidance), you set up the experiment, controlled for variables (the best you could), and then you executed!
(And hopefully it didn’t blow-up in your face, unless of course it was a baking-soda & vinegar volcano).
And when the (fun!) experiment was over, you analyzed your results and prepared the report to hand into your teacher.
Replace the word ‘science’ with ‘fitness’ and you just laid out what a fitness goal and plan should look like.
You gather your data, you set your fitness goal, you create and follow-through with your fitness program, you analyze the results to your hypothesis.
Pretty cool eh?
If you’ve never done this ‘experiment’ before you can’t know or guarantee the outcome for yourself, even with your best efforts to control for variables.
And that is why it’s an experiment and not a black & white roadmap.
Now even if you end up creating an unrealistic goal and a far-from-perfect plan to get there, you can still see great results.
Just follow the Strong & Smart 3 Pillars to Fitness Success:
- Consistency: Showing up consistently to put the work in
- Challenging: Pushing yourself a little each time
- Recovery: Taking time to rest
As long as you follow these 3 Pillars, you will see success with your fitness plan in some way; even if you’re nowhere near achieving your goal.
One last thing to remember before we dive into the 3 Steps, there is never an end to your fitness journey. You’ll constantly be setting and reaching new fitness goals over your lifetime; which we want!
So sit back, experiment, and have tons of fun on your journey. You’re on this path for life 🙂
My 3 Steps to Setting Realistic Fitness Goals
Into the part you’ve been waiting for, the 3 Steps I use for setting realistic fitness goals. Because what’s the use of shooting for the moon if you never, ever get there?
Let’s use our science experiment analogy to make sense of these tactics:
Consult the science textbook
One word; Google!
If you have no idea where to start with setting your fitness goal just enter it into Google and hit ‘search’ and see what the masses are saying.
Goal: “Lose 10lbs in 1 month”
“The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommend people looking to lose weight aim to lose between 1–2 pounds per week for safe, healthy weight loss. While some individuals may be able to lose a more significant amount of weight per week at the beginning of their weight loss journey, it is not possible for everyone.” (Source)
And there you have it, you now know 10lbs is a bit unrealistic.
Okay, I know it’s not that easy because with Google comes a lot of false information as well as ‘information overload’ (i.e. Overwhelm!). Not to mention the, ‘it depends’ when it comes to fitness and health.
However it is still a great place to start whether you have no or some idea of what your goal should be.
To help you with some of the misinformation and overwhelm, here are a few sources I trust:
- Girls Gone Strong
- Fit for Real Life
- Lift Like a Girl
- Bony to Bombshell
- Travel Strong
- KP’ing It Simple
Just like our science experiment, we gather base research to create our hypothesis how the experiment should be run. Onto step 2!
When you ran the same experiment in last year’s science class (and your teacher was unoriginal with giving you new experiments to do)
When you run the same experiment you have a pretty good idea of how it’s going to turn out. Same idea when next year, you repeat your goal of gaining muscle tone in your arms. You use the data you collected last year and repeat the experiment, only better!
Even if you run a different experiment you still have data to pull from. Just like conducting our science experiment is a pre-requisite for moving up a grade level, where the more complex experiments happen.
With very goal you set and plan you create you will gain a ton of information (and begin to learn what works and what doesn’t). This information will set the framework for your next goal and every goal after that.
Don’t have any past experience to pull from? Look to a friend, what have they learned in their fitness journey?
You now have a solid basis for a realistic fitness goal, step 3 will help you solidify it!
Talk to the teacher or that 1 kid who’s repeating the grade
Who do you know that has ran that experiment before? They don’t need to be an expert in all things ‘health & fitness’ but just have walked this path before.
Along with their ‘expert’ opinion they also have that outsider’s perspective to see the larger picture. You may be surprised by the things you missed or second-guessed yourself on.
And don’t forget, I’d be happy to answer your questions and point you in the right direction, I’m just an email away!
What do you do when you don’t reach your goal?
Experiments don’t always confirm your hypothesis and that’s the beauty of it being an experiment! Like I mentioned at the beginning, even if you come nowhere near your goal, it is still a success if you complete the experiment.
But when that’s the case, here’s what you do:
- Don’t give up
Do you think scientists and doctors give up when they fail to find a cure for cancer? Nope and neither should you.
Remember fitness is a lifelong journey.
2. Tweak but don’t overhaul
Use the info you’ve gathered from your completed experiment and just tweak your fitness goal and plan going forward.
Think of it like one of those ‘elimination diets’. Something is causing your stomach issues, but if you revamp your entire diet you’ll never know what the ‘trigger food’ was. Instead you remove 1 food at a time to find the culprit.
If overhaul our fitness plan you won’t know what parts of it were working.
Of course if your goal completely changes then a new plan is in order 😉
Even if you come nowhere near your goal, it is still a success if you complete the experiment
With the new info gathered and your determined-face on, you’re now ready to repeat the process!
Run through our 3 steps; research, use past experience (which you have!), consult an expert and tweak your goal if needed.
Then ask yourself how your plan stacked up; what small changes to the ‘experiment’ could you make?
And then it’s off to the races; run that experiment again!
Just like a science experiment, we can never guarantee we’ll reach our fitness goal even with the ‘perfect’ plan. There are just too many variables beyond our control plus we never have all the information.
But if we consistently challenge ourselves and approach our fitness journey like a sequence of fun, mini experiments, we’ll always see success.
(And remember, I’m here to help guide you on that journey! Shoot me an email if you have a question, comment, or want to say ‘hi’)
P.S. Have 35 seconds to spare? Might as well grab your 0 Minute Workout Game Plan…it’s free after all and you only need 0 minutes to get a workout in (yep…it’s true!)