There’s no denying it: back-to-school season is most definitely upon us, promising cooler temps, carpools, and pumpkin-flavored everything. As the chaos of summer comes to an end, you may find yourself craving the structure of September and a new school year. Or you may not, but have no choice! Either way, it’s a great time to reboot and refocus your fitness goals.
In order to get to a healthier place—no matter what that means—it’s important that you set your fitness compass in the right direction, and have additional tools to get there. Here are a few key tips and tricks to help you get back on track.
Find Your Motivation
Some of us are approaching our 20th high school reunion. Some of us are getting ready to walk our baby girl down the aisle. Some of us are training for a Warrior Dash. Some of us just got back from the doctor and heard once again that we need to turn things around. At the end of the day, we all have our own specific reason and driver for getting to a healthier place. What’s yours?
Whenever I set a new goal for myself, I make a vision board—a collection of pictures, motivational quotes, and key words that help to keep me focused on my goal. Don’t have the time or inclination to make a vision board? Easy fix: Hang just a few pictures and/or quotes where you’ll see them frequently (your bathroom mirror, on the fridge, the walls of your cubicle, etc.) to keep your mind focused.
Are you guilty of making that hopeful New Year’s resolution year after year, but not following through? I was too. In reality, resolutions are pretty much the bare minimum when it comes to goal setting. And they’re often too lofty, without small steps to get there. Without a plan, your resolutions have no meaning. It’s time to get SMART: specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, and time-based.
Your goals need to be SPECIFIC. Saying “I want to lose weight” is not specific enough. What do you want to accomplish? How much weight do you want to lose? How will you do it? Here’s a more specific example: I will lose two pounds a week, reaching 30 pounds by my birthday, by exercising 5 times per week, eating clean, and measuring portion sizes appropriate for my goals.
Your goals should be MEASURABLE. How will you track your progress or measure your success? Will you be weighing in every week? Will you have a personal trainer measure your body fat? Will you keep track of how long it takes you to run a mile?
Your goals should be ACHIEVABLE. Is your goal realistic? Do you have the resources and/or time to dedicate to your goal and achieve it? A goal to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks is both unrealistic and unhealthy. Keep in mind, healthy weight loss is measured by losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. Losing 10 pounds in 5 to 10 weeks is definitely achievable and safer for your body. Maybe you’re new to running. If you set a goal to finish a half-marathon in a month, you’re setting yourself up for both failure and pain. Start with a “Couch to 5K” program, which will prepare you for a 5K, or 3.1 miles, in 9 weeks. Make your goals challenging, but attainable. If you’re ever in need of a little help to determine what’s possible and how to get there, make sure to reach out to a certified personal trainer.
Your goals should be RELEVANT. You want to choose goals that fit in with your lifestyle and are relevant to your interests, making it easier and more fun to achieve them. Set goals that are important to where you are in your life right now. Don’t sign up for a 5K just because your best friend wants you to join her—unless it’s been on your wish list and you just needed some extra motivation!
Your goals should be TIME-BASED. What is your end game? When do you want to accomplish your goal? Set a specific date to help motivate you and focus your efforts.
Mark Your Calendar
Let’s face it, we’re all just big kids, and many of us still need a little structure. When I was little, I was involved in so many activities that mom made sure I was prepared by planning a monthly calendar. The calendar listed the activities, practices, games, and other extracurricular activities each day had in store. I would wake up, take a peek at the calendar, and plan my day accordingly. You can do the same now! Check out our monthly workout calendar for some help or create your own based on your own activities. This will help you tackle life, and your fitness journey, with a clear daily plan.
Pro tip: Look at your calendar every night and pack your gym bag before your head hits the pillow. I promise this will take minutes off your morning regimen and better ensure you follow through!
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed with this process, and worried you’ll lose motivation, consider hiring a personal trainer. They’re passionate about getting you to a healthier and fitter place, and will help keep you accountable. Plus, they know exactly how to get you the results you want. Either way, lock in your motivation, set your S.M.A.R.T. goals, mark your calendar, and start getting back on track!