Be a Goal-Getter, not a Scale-Fretter
Setting a goal is a great way to push yourself in your fitness journey. But figuring out how to set that goal can be challenging in its own right. Here are some tips that have helped my clients.
Not the scale! Or at least not only the scale
So many people set goals around size. I always try to deter this because the scale can contribute to body shaming. We aren’t going to treat our body well if we hate it! So, try thinking about a goal that can highlight the power and greatness of what your body can do rather than what it looks like. More often than not, once we shift that focus and look at our body as a source of power, we find that weight loss goals just happen anyway.
Finding a Fitness Goal
“A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.” Joe Vitale
I’m a weak swimmer with significant fears about open water swimming, but last year I completed my first sprint triathlon. It took a lot of training and some serious fear-facing, but it was the most gratifying physical thing I have ever done. Finding an organized race that challenges you can be a great motivator to make you put in the training time. Not only does it have a set date that you need to prepare for, but it also puts you in a community of people who share the same goal, which is empowering and motivating.
The 5k (3.1 miles) is a great place to start. Doing a 5k doesn’t mean you have to be in it to win it. You will find people of all abilities at 5ks, from walkers to those super-fast gazelle-like runners at the front of the pack. Set a goal that is manageable, yet challenging for you. If you’re new to running, maybe it’s a walk/run aiming to run at least half the time. Your training might be to run as many telephone pole distances as you can before walking; working toward increased numbers each time out. If you’ve been running for a while, maybe it’s a new goal for speed. You can work on speed training and leg strength and focus on your gait for efficiency.
While I’m a fan of running, my favorite type of races to train for are obstacle races. They require a well-rounded workout routine that includes strength, cardio, flexibility, and agility. This not only prepares you for the race day but also gives you tools to tackle everyday life. In addition to the excellent training routine, the race itself is just a blast! While they can seem intimidating, in reality, most obstacle races have an incredibly supportive and light-spirited atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re a kid in your backyard playing with friends. As an added benefit, they usually have fantastic after-parties! The races range in mileage from 3-mile flat courses to 30-mile mountain runs, so you can pick a race that suits your fitness level.
Spartan Beast (16+ miles), World Championship course, Killington, VT
Spartan Beast (16miles), Killington, VT
Another favorite goal of my clients’ is the pull-up. What’s cooler than being able to do a pull-up? Talk about a powerful feeling. This is not an easy goal, but it is obtainable. If you belong to a traditional gym, they generally have an assisted pull-up machine. You can work on incremental changes until you reach your full body weight. A similar option is getting specially designed, pull-up assistance rubber bands that you put on the pull-up bar and place over your foot. These are relatively inexpensive and are available at most sporting goods stores. The way I trained to do pull-ups required just a bar. I would stand on a chair, jump up to get my chin over the bar then just work to lower myself down as slowly as I could. I did that a dozen or so times a day, (along with my regular strength training routine) until I didn’t have to jump or use a chair at all. It took a while, but I got there.
Get an assist until you don’t need it anymore
Hate running and not into the idea of crawling under barbed wire or scaling walls? Here are some other ideas for goals unrelated to the scale:
- Do physical activity 5 days per week.
- Get in a certain number of steps per day.
- Ride your bike to work.
- Do any other activity that makes you feel fierce and motivated.
Realistic Short and Long-Term Goals
Whatever your goals are, try to be realistic while still challenging yourself. As a beginner runner, don’t shoot for the marathon. At least not yet. Give yourself incremental goals, maybe quarterly or yearly goals to reach those big ones. Allow yourself success that you still have to work hard for. One last tip. Tell people. They want to support you, and it will keep you accountable!
Natalina owns and operates a boutique fitness studio in Cranston, Rhode Island, The Edge Fitness for Women. At her studio she not only builds strong bodies in a body positive environment, but also builds a strong community of women who support one another. A National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer with additional credentials in barre, boot camp, kickboxing, spin, and TRX (among others), 10 years of experience as a trainer, and countless road races, obstacles races, and a triathlon under her belt, she offers readers a wide variety of expertise and experience.