Like anyone else, you have many ideas in mind for your desired level of physical fitness, your desired body type, and your overall physical health and well-being. You know what you want your body to look like. You know you want to live an active lifestyle, workout, look good, eat healthy, and feel great every day! Undoubtedly, experts agree that the key to ACHIEVEMENT in this arena lies within setting GOALS (backed by your own personalized support system) to get you from where you are now, to where you want to be!
In this ultimate guide, we’ll take you through the steps to set goals that are right for you - and most importantly, you will learn how to build your own support system, which is what you’ll really need to get you from the start line all the way through to accomplishing any goal you set out to achieve!
All of the methods within this 5-step strategy can be applied to either physical fitness, diet and nutrition, or really any type of health and wellbeing campaign you might want to set out upon. For the sake of simplicity, we will keep the examples below focused on physical fitness. These 5 steps below are going to comprise your own personal strategy and self-support system. Only YOU can accomplish your fitness goals; nobody is going to hold your hand or do it for you, so let’s get started and build it out:
1. Determine Your Desired “End State” - And Set Realistic Goals
What is it that you are really trying to achieve in the long run? Let’s put the bottom line up front: If the culminating totality of your fitness goals sounds something like “I need to start going to the gym,” or “I need to exercise more often to be healthy,” – then you aren’t doing it right!
Those are great starting thoughts to indicate that you have the level of motivation to get your life moving in the right direction, but you need to ask some more encompassing questions to determine your desired end state; in other words, what specific results are you trying to achieve by “going to the gym more often” or by “exercising more?” Maybe, rather, what you ACTUALLY want is to…
- Achieve a certain body figure?
- Burn fat and build muscle?
- Lose weight?
- Improve your cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease?
- Become a marathon runner?
- Bulk up and get huge like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime competition days?
- Be able to complete a triathlon?
- Maintain your current appearance, but improve your fitness and feel better daily?
- Compete in a bodybuilding competition?
Those are all great examples of overarching “end states” or underlying goals behind your combined physical fitness efforts. What is your desired end state? Don’t rush; take a few days and really think about it.
Also, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Be realistic. You are starting out at 335 pounds in March and you begin writing up your 9-month plan to look like Halle Berry in Die Another Day by the end of the year. That’s not going to happen.
Wait, what’s that you say… You are planning on losing 80 pounds in the next 18 months? THERE YOU GO! That is a good end state, one you can achieve, one you can be proud of, and one that will leave you feeling pretty darn good at the end of the road.
Then, after you lose 80 pounds in 18 months, you start over again at 255 pounds. You set another end state and you plan it out over a year, or two, or three, and you crush it. Then, keep going and going and going, and if you actually put in the commitment and prioritize your goals daily, then years down the road the 185-pound-you will be thanking the old 335-pound-you for setting realistic goals and building your support system properly!
2. Do the Research and Make the Plan
This step is simple. You do not have years of experience as a professional fitness trainer with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science (well, maybe you do, but this article obviously isn’t for you!) However, there are thousands of people out there who do have the credentials and proven experience; in this Internet age it is too easy to explore all the leading fitness methods for whatever goal(s) you have in mind. Just hop on the search engine and type in your goals, for example “workout plans for weight loss.” Look for professional advice blogs and articles like this one; if you land on a Web page that is trying to sell you a workout plan or a club or membership, you are in the wrong place!
Do the research; do LOTS of research, and using common sense, plan out your fitness routine (or combination of routines) that works for you. Write it down or type it out so you know what your plan is, and then customize as you go along.
3. Build Your Support System. Your Arsenal of Weapons.
This is the most important step. Your path towards accomplishing your fitness goals is not going to be a walk in the park. This is going to be a battle. You are going to have to FIGHT to stay on track, and you must put in hard work along the way. You will need weapons for this battle. Think of this step as the physical portion of your strategy—everything you can actually touch; your support system is comprised of the physical resources that are going to give you the boost that you’ll need to stay on track with your plan. Your tangible support system and resources are the core of your entire strategy.
What types of things are we talking about here? You have to ask yourself this key question: what things do I need to help get me through this journey? Let’s get you started! Download and try a few different leading fitness apps on your phone to use as a resource to plan and execute your workouts. Research the benefits of using protein powder and other supplements to complement your workouts and meal plan. You need an accountability partner, or multiple accountability partners; find a friend or family member who is willing to commit to working out with you sometimes and has similar interests, or just find a friend who is willing to ask you regularly whether or not you have been keeping up with your plan – someone who you can use as a resource to help hold you accountable.
Journal your workouts. Make a motivating gym playlist and let music power you through the workout. Buy some athleticwear that is comfortable and looks good, so you can have pride and confidence during your workout. These thigh high compression socks, orthotic insoles and athletic tape are good picks to get started. Commit to a good gym that has everything you need for your routines. Perhaps, buy some simple workout equipment like a bike or some dumbbells that you can keep at the house in case you are on a time crunch and can’t make it to the gym.
Most importantly, give yourself the resources you need to rest and recover properly after your workout is complete. Experts agree that the most important part of any workout is your cool-down and recovery stretching at the end of the workout; without stretching properly, you can develop serious musculoskeletal injuries. Give yourself the tools you need to stretch and recover throughout the day. Massage balls and muscles rollers are the two most essential workout recovery items that everyone should have in their personal fitness gear arsenal. These are very important resources that you can take with you anywhere you go!
What other resources can you come up with that you can add into your personal support system?
4. EXECUTE VIOLENTLY!
You made your plan. You have your support system. Now, GO HARD! Go all-in. Give it everything you’ve got, and don’t stop until you reach the finish line. Make your fitness plan a priority in your life. You will likely have to “trim back” some other things you spend time on. There is an old adage that “if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.” This is particularly true here; you need to identify what all the things are that you are currently committed to on a daily basis, and then prioritize their importance. Where do your fitness goals sit on that list? The higher you place your fitness goals as a priority in your life, the more likely you will actually dedicate the appropriate time and resources necessary for actually achieving a healthy and fit lifestyle.
5. Review and Refine
After you start out on your fitness quest, you will naturally need to make adjustments along the way. You don’t have to stick to the textbook; figure out what works for you and what gets YOU the results you are working towards. Everyone has a different body type and not every strategy works for everyone. Assess your progress along the way and make small adjustments to your plan every couple of weeks (or as needed) to fine-tune your overall support system. And most importantly, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t getting the results you want right away! Make adjustments and keep pressing hard towards your goals, no matter how hard it seems or how long it takes you to get there – keep up the good fight!
Whether you have made the first step in deciding that physical fitness will be your new way of life, or maybe you have been trying to make your health and fitness dreams a reality for months or years with limited or no results - wherever you are at in your journey, this strategy will benefit your future pursuits in all of your health and fitness endeavors. Print or bookmark this article so you can use it as time goes on to help you with strategy building as you chase down your health and fitness goals going into the future!