If You Don't Do Diet and Fitness Goal Setting Now, You'll Hate Yourself Later

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Q: What is the secret to fitness success?

A: Diet and Fitness Goal Setting. It is almost inevitable that if you fail to set fitness goals, your plan to build muscle and burn fat will not be successful.

When starting a new program to build muscle or burn fat, there are several methods to measure where you are now. Some of these are:

For Building Muscle and/or Burning Fat:

  • Body Fat Percentage,
  • Body Mass Index,
  • Waist-Hip Ratio

    For Getting Stronger:

  • One Rep Max

    So, now that we know where we are, we have to know where we are going. That is where diet and fitness goal setting comes in.

    Businesses also set goals and targets. In fact, once per quarter, if the company's stock trades on a large stock market such as the New York Stock exchange, the market evaluates them on their ability to meet those targets. Shareholders hold these companies accountable to meet their published goals.

    If you go to the trouble of diet and fitness goal setting, you are more likely to stick to those goals. You are your biggest shareholder, and if you have a target, you are more likely to hold yourself accountable.

    There are additional ways to create accountability for your goals. One of the easiest ways is to simply write the goal down and place it in a prominent place. In fact, this technique was used on a recent episode of NBC' hit show, "The Biggest Loser." The trainers for the show created "Biggest Loser Goal Shirts" for the contestants. Talk about a prominent place! Your primary fitness goal is staring you in the mirror as you workout!

    There are many types of fitness goals. You can set a general goal, such as slimming down or building bigger biceps. However, you cannot stop there. It is much more effective if, when diet and fitness goal setting, you make the SMART.

    Diet and Fitness Goal Setting Should Be SMART

    SMART goals are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time bound.

    If you are not specific when diet and fitness goal setting, it is going to be extremely difficult to determine whether you have met your target. Think back to our business example. They provide their investors with very specific earnings targets, such as $0.34 per share of stock.

    In the same way, when diet and fitness goal setting, you want to be specific. Do you want to fit into a pair of jeans from your college days? That is a specific goal. Do you want to lose weight? Reduce your body fat percentage? Again, these are specific goals.

    The next step is to take your specific goal and turn it into something measurable. The earnings target of $0.34 set by our hypothetical company is both specific and measurable. How about our fitness goals? Can the they be made measurable? Take you jeans from back in the day. If you know the size, then you can make that goal measurable. Simply write down the size of the jeans. You now have something to measure your progress against.

    If your desired fitness goals are not measurable when diet and fitness goal setting, it may be because the goal is not specific enough. Take a fitness goal of "to be healthy." The concept of healthy is very general. How do you measure overall health? If you answer is something like, "I will use the BMI to assess my health," then you should consider "reduce my BMI" when setting fitness goals rather than "to be healthy." It is much more specific, and, measurable.

    The next aspect of good diet and fitness goals is that they are action-oriented. What does it mean to be action oriented? It is a goal where we are able to create specific actions to achieve the desired result. To hit its earnings target, a company can increase sales, decrease costs, or a combination of both. We can drill into these action further to find even more specific counter measures to reach its goals.

    In the same way, to fit into that smaller pair of jeans, you may decide one of your actions is to reduce the number of calories you eat per day. A specific countermeasure of this action would be to switch from regular cola to diet cola to reduce calories. An action will often have several countermeasures.

    You goals should also be realistic. Losing 30 pounds per month is simply not realistic (not to mention it is dangerous). Bench pressing 300 pounds may or may not be realistic. Take a moment to really evaluate when setting fitness goals to determine how realistic the target actually is. If your diet and fitness goal is not realistic, you run the risk of failure and disappointment.

    Sometimes, goals don't look realistic on the surface. However, take another look and ask yourself whether the goal would look more realistic if you broke it down into smaller intervals. For example, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, that may not seem doable at first glance. However, if you break that goal down into smaller components, such as, lose 5 pounds per month, or 1 to 2 pounds per week, then those goals are more reasonable. String together several realistic short term goals to make your longer term goal realistic.

    Your goal must be time-bound. Give yourself a due date. Businesses often have a due date when being evaluated by Wall Street. They are time-bound by the quarterly and annual earning seasons. That $0.34 per share may be for the current quarter (or year depending on the size of the company).

    Be careful, however. How you set your time-bound can take a goal from being realistic (to lose 10 pounds) to being unrealistic (to lose 10 pounds in 1 week). When setting fitness goals, always consider how long it will take you to get there. Then set a date, and stick to it. Make yourself accountable. When posting your goal in a prominent place, write the due date down as well. It will help to keep you motivated and pressing ahead.

    Once you have set your diet and fitness goals, write down your baseline measurement, such as your current weight, BMI, body fat percentage, biceps size, jeans size or any measure that meets the specific and measurable criteria above. Then track your progress toward your diet and fitness goals.

    Just as you wrote down your targets and action plan after setting fitness goals that were SMART, you have to keep track of your progress. There are few things more inspiring than seeing your weight drop week after week or watching your bench press numbers increasing seeing that in writing. Post that in a prominent place as well, whether it be in a training or diet journal or a piece of scrap paper taped to your mirror. Let it serve as a reminder of how successful you can be when you stick to the plan you laid out when diet and fitness goal setting the SMART way.

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