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Getting Real On Your Path To Fitness

People commonly look to the New Year as a time of renewal and optimistic goal setting. “This is the year I …(fill in the blank). It is a busy time for the fitness industry!

But by March or April, the enthusiasm is gone and the new treadmill in the bedroom is a really expensive clothes hanger.

What separates those who abandon their goals from those who don’t? It begins with getting real about where you are, identifying your destination and creating a good map. Then, it is a series of steps rather than leaps – one foot in front of the other on your personal path to fitness.

Setting Your Goal
Many clients say they want to lose weight, but they aren’t specific about how much. Some believe they are not as overweight as they really are. Or runners who want to run faster may not even know their pace.

To set a goal, you need a reference point. Weigh yourself, take measurements, take a photo or make a video. Check out the Body Mass Index chart. If you’re a runner, go out and run a mile and clock it. Remember that your goal doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Look at the whole picture: what is going on in your life; how much available time and responsibility do you have; what are your dietary habits like?

Choosing Your Destination
The more specific your goal, the easier it is to visualize. Lose 25 pounds. Run a 6-minute mile. Ride a century. It is important to say exactly what the goal is in order to see and feel it. Believe in your accomplishment. Write your goal down and pin it up in several places so you can see it every day. Change the location every week to avoid tuning out.

The Map
Your map is the strategy to achieve your goal. Focusing on your effort increases motivation and enhances performance. Use the S.M.A.R.T principles:

S = Set a specific goal.

M = Make it measurable. Keep track of progress; weigh in every week. Assess and reassess. (If you aren’t assessing, you are guessing.)

A = Accountability. Keep a journal. Make appointments with yourself, a trainer or a workout partner.

R = Be realistic. Don’t be afraid to correct and adapt. Break up a big goal into smaller attainable ones.

T = Set a time limit to achieve your goal. “I will do this in three months, six months.”

Sticking With It
Develop persistence. Don’t lose your map; make sure there is more than one copy by using a support system of family, friends and teammates. Review the map frequently. Look at your starting photo, review your progress, keep the goal in site and keep talking about it.

Most importantly, if you slip up, remember you can have a fresh start any moment you choose. “Failure is not in the falling down, but in the staying down.”

Carol Porter is a personal trainer and fitness guide in Ashland, Oregon. She is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, exercise and performance-training specialist, and yoga teacher. Her sports interests are cycling, running, yoga, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and cross country skiing.  You can reach Carol at:

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