Whether you’re a class enthusiast, mindful Yogi or dedicated bodybuilder, everyone has their own health and fitness goals. And although it’s great to think on a grand scale, goals lacking specificity can be hard to achieve.
The secret to creating a training plan that works (and lasts) is to make sure your goals are realistic and measurable. To show you how, we’ve recruited the help of our Head of Nutrition, Rachel Butcher and former Elite Trainer and Education Coordinator, Tom Hall. Let’s dive in.
Know Your ‘Why’
Maybe you want to build your fitness to run around with your children or grandchildren for years to come. Maybe you want to learn Brazilian Jiu-jitsu so you can feel more confident walking around alone at night. Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of running the London Marathon.
Whatever it is, “finding your why can be a great source of motivation, not just to start but to keep going,” says Butcher. Take some time to reflect on what truly matters to you and tune into that source of motivation.
Break Up Your Objectives
Hall has helped his clients achieve long-term success by breaking their goals into micro-goals for short-, medium-, and long-term milestones.
“[Ask yourself] what do you want to achieve in seven days, 90 days and 12 months?’” he says. “Write down three things you would like to achieve by each milestone.” That way, with each milestone, you build momentum and confidence.
As tempting as short-term, boot camp-style training plans can be, higher intensity doesn’t always equal better results. Instead, building habits and consistency over time is key to achieving sustainable results and reaching long-term goals.
“When building a new habit, no one should expect to get it right every single day,” says Butcher. Good days and bad days will happen, but if you stick to your plan most of the time, you’re still moving in the right direction. “All is not lost from a slip-up”.
Thinking long-term also helps bring clarity when things don’t go to plan. Sickness, injury or starting a new job – disruptions to routine are an unavoidable part of life. With a long-term approach, it’s much easier to pick up where you left off than starting from scratch with a 6-week smash-and-grab training plan. Consistency is more important than intensity for longevity.
Set Goals You Want to Keep
“For many setting fitness resolutions, they immediately picture gruelling HIIT sessions and running 5k a day. This could be a great thing for some, but it may feel like daily punishment for others,” says Butcher.
If you hate running, trying to reach your fitness goals by pounding the pavement is probably not the best approach. Alternatively, Butcher suggests, find something that you enjoy and you won’t feel like you need to ‘stick’ to it at all. “Whatever your fitness goal, motivation alone won’t sustain you. You need to enjoy what you’re doing to stick with it.”
In his book “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything”, BJ Fogg explains that positive emotions increase the production of dopamine, a chemical that helps establish a connection between an action and its reward. The more we exercise in a way we enjoy, the stronger our motivation to continue doing so becomes.
Accountability is a strong determinant of whether you’ll stick with your goals. First, work out what kind of accountability is most effective for you. Do you need external accountability, such as a friend or personal trainer? Or do you resist the expectations of others and prefer to hold yourself accountable by adding workouts to your calendar?
When you’ve figured out the accountability method that works for you, take the micro goals you set and incorporate accountability into each. In doing so, you build another layer of structure and motivation to help you achieve your goals.