Do you start new fitness regimes with good intentions only to find they fall by the wayside before you’ve reached your target? You’re not the only one, so we’ve asked the experts for their top tips to ensure you reach every one of your fitness goals from now on. Read on to identify what might be sabotaging your goals, plus find out how to get over those hurdles and reap the rewards…
By Emma Lewis
PROBLEM: Your fitness goal is too scary
Solution: Reframe it as an intention.
‘Goal setting can feel overwhelming,’ says Roo Davies, AKA The Mojo Coach. ‘The pressure to create the “right” goals and then be able to achieve them can be enough to stop some people in their tracks.
‘Focus on how you want to feel. What would you like to aim for and achieve? Then map out three columns headed “What”, “When” and “How” to bring it to life, see if it’s realistic and work out where you may need help to get there.’
PROBLEM: Your fitness goal is too big
Solution: Break it down into smaller chunks.
Smaller goals can act like stepping stones along the way and feel more doable and immediate. ‘Setting smaller, more manageable goals, rather than consolidating all your aspirations into one larger goal, will keep you motivated,’ says Vanessa Gebhardt, mind coach at Freeletics.
‘So, with a marathon, break it down into 5K, 10K, half marathon and 18-mile goals, for instance, and make sure you reward yourself at each of these steps.’
PROBLEM: Your fitness goals are too vague
Solution: Make it ‘SMART’
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. ‘The number one reason people don’t achieve their goals is that they aren’t specific and measurable,’ says Davies.
‘In other words, they are too broad and fluffy. Be specific about what you want to achieve and how you will measure success. How will you know when you have achieved it?’
Josephine Perry, sports psychologist at Performance in Mind agrees: ‘A general goal such as “get faster at running” is very difficult to stick to as there are no metrics.
‘A goal like “get my 5K time below 25 minutes by July 30” is far easier to plan for and focus on,’ she says. This SMART goal leads us on to the next tip…
PROBLEM: You don’t know where to start
Solution: Be process driven
‘You then need to break down that goal and those focus areas into the processes or actions you will need to follow to achieve it,’ adds Perry.
‘You may need to have, for example, three areas to focus on for the “get my 5K time below 25 minutes by July 30” goal: speed (include speed sessions in your training), environment (picking a race where you’ll be pushed) and consistency (doing a specific number of sessions or hours of training per week).’
PROBLEM: You don’t care enough about your fitness goals
Solution: Create value-based goals
‘If your goal links to what matters to you (your values), you’re much more likely to be motivated to work for it,’ says Davies.
‘Do achievement and excellence matter most to you? If so, set a personal best to aim for and complete a structured training programme that challenges you.
‘If friendship’s very important to you, create a support group for accountability or enter a fun event with a friend and train for it together.
‘Or, if learning new skills is most important to you, you could aim to improve your running technique by mastering effective breathing,’ she adds.
PROBLEM: You have a setback
Solution: Be elastic with your goals
If you’re injured along the way, or work gets crazy for a while, it’s easy to feel discouraged, but don’t lose sight of your bigger vision. ‘Don’t worry about the training you’ve missed,’ says Gebhardt.
‘Take it step by step to get back to a routine that suits you and aids your recovery. Focus on a workout that complements your goals without overdoing it and risking further injury,’ she says.
The Curation Coach Kathryn McAuley agrees: ‘It’s fine to change your mind, change direction or shift goal posts – particularly when events that are out of your control get in the way.
‘Think about what you’ve already achieved and be kind to yourself,’ she says. ‘Just make sure your negative inner dialogue doesn’t make the decision for you!’
PROBLEM: You lack structure
Solution: Hire a PT
‘A personal trainer has a huge knowledge base of exercises and training systems, so can help you design the optimum programme for your fitness goals,’ says Samantha Robbins, Gympass PT.
‘They’ll also have many techniques to measure and monitor progress at your regular check-in sessions, reviewing your training plan every six to eight weeks to avoid a plateau.
‘They can also adapt on the bounce, so if time demands, injury or tiredness mean you need to deviate from a programme, they will always have an effective alternative available,’ she adds.
PROBLEM: You lose motivation
Solution: Reward your hard work as you go
‘Don’t underestimate the importance of rewards,’ says Gebhardt. ‘They can make you work harder and be more productive, encouraging you to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements regularly. But make sure you’re rewarding relevant achievements.
‘For example, if your goal is time based, reward yourself for shaving off a minute. Try to link your rewards to your bigger goal, too, so buy yourself something fitness related, such as a pair of new trainers or water bottle. These will make your goals more achievable, not less.’