In your quest to get in shape, you might find yourself asking after awhile, "Are we there yet?" You've seen the guy who comes to the gym religiously whose body doesn't ever seem to change, right? That guy might be you one day. Without setting realistic achievable goals, you may never shift from progressive workouts into the maintenance phase.
At the onset of any workout program, it is important to identify the top reasons for starting your program. You will be better able to focus your efforts and stay motivated. Do you need to lose weight? Are you training for a bike race or marathon? Are you rehabilitating an injury? Would you like to build muscle? These are all great questions, but they need to be more specific, measurable, and have a deadline.
Here are some examples of goals that will let you see the finish line:
1) I want to lose 20 pounds of fat by March 31, 2017.
2) I want to run a 13.1 mile race in under 3 hours by January 29, 2017.
3) I want to be able to do 25 tricep push-ups without stopping by February 15, 2017.
The next step is to break each goal down and set some milestones. If you want to lose 20 pounds of fat in 3 months, or 13 weeks, you have a weight loss goal of about 1.5 pounds per week. Since normal, healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, this goal is realistic. Your diet will have to be planned as well as the specific type and frequency of exercises required to burn fat.
So, the plan could look like this. You might consume 1,500 calories per day where 30 percent comes from protein, 60 percent from carbohydrates, and 10 percent from healthy fats. You might perform HIIT workouts 3-4 days per week, plus core and flexibility training three days per week.
If you need accountability and someone to push you, you might even hire a personal trainer. But don't forget to track your progress with weekly weigh-ins and maintaining a diet/exercise log. Also, be sure to assess your progress consistently and adjust your plan as needed. Set and then celebrate each milestone monthly.
So when it comes down to getting in shape, you have only done enough when you have reached your goal. That doesn't mean that you retreat to the sofa and start ordering pizza again. You just move into a maintenance routine and stop stressing--you made it!