5 Steps To Achieve Your Health & Fitness Goals

Achieving your health and fitness goals can be easy if you approach them in the right way.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they start training is they assume they need to immediately make drastic changes to see results. If you take this approach, you will likely exhaust yourself, lose motivation and quit.

Success does not require massive action. Instead, you need to make small, easy changes that accumulate into incredible results [1].

Accomplishing your health and fitness goals can be broken into five simple steps.

1. Find your motivation

If you don’t know why you are doing something, it’s easy to give up.

Finding and understanding what motivates you can help you to stick to your goals. If you need to, it can also help you get back on track quicker.

When it comes to finding your motivation, you can either be intrinsically (internally) motivated or extrinsically (externally) motivated. If you are intrinsically motivated, you train because you enjoy the challenge and want to develop and grow your health and fitness. On the other hand, if you are extrinsically motivated, you may go to the gym for a reward, or to avoid punishment.

While extrinsic motivation might get you to the gym in the beginning, finding a way to be intrinsically motivated can help you develop your new routine into a lifelong habit. Studies show that intrinsic motivation can improve general well-being, performance, learning and creativity [2]. Autonomy is key to intrinsic motivation, which means it is important that you are choosing to go to the gym because you want to train to achieve your goals.

At Plexus, we like to get to the bottom of what is motivating our clients by finding out what they want to achieve and why. For example, do you want to be healthier so you will be around to spend more time with your kids, have more energy to achieve more in your work, have a clearer head and improve your mental health, or maybe it’s a combination of all of these reasons? Being clear on the deeper reason behind why you are making a change will help keep you motivated.

2. Set the right goals

Setting goals is important, but they must be realistic.

Habits expert and author of Atomic Habits James Clear challenges people to change their life by being 1% better every day. He believes that small and unimportant changes compound over time into remarkable results. We follow a similar approach at Plexus.

We believe once you have figured out why you want to make a change in your life, the next step is to figure out how to get there. If you set out to achieve unrealistic goals without breaking it down into incremental steps building up to them, you can unknowingly set yourself up for failure. When you map out your goals, they should be made up of a series of smaller goals that are easy to achieve but put you on the path to achieving your big picture goals.

For example, if you want to be more active, start with one thing. Whether it’s a short weekly walk, a bodyweight workout, or a light weights session, make sure it’s a small change that will be easy to repeat. Once you achieve that, slowly build the duration, intensity, or frequency.

3. Make a habit of it

Once you have your motivation and plan in place, making a habit out of a lifestyle change comes down to repetition.

While some research suggests you can begin to form a habit after 21 days [3], others indicate it takes an average of two months before a behaviour becomes automatic [4]. After enough repetition, your new habit will no longer feel like an effort or a conscious decision. This doesn’t mean you will never have days where you don’t feel like exercising or eating well, in fact, research shows that making a mistake once or twice has no measurable impact on your long-term habits. Motivation will always come in waves, but over time your new habit will form part of your routine and it will become easier.

To help make the process of forming a new habit easier, remove the need to constantly make decisions about it. Put it in your calendar and make it a non-negotiable part of your schedule. This helps to eliminate excuses like “I don’t have time”, or “I just never got around to it”, because you have already set time aside for it.

For example, one of Plexus’ clients wanted to be more of a morning person. We started him with 6:00 am personal training sessions, which meant he had to set his alarm for 4:45 am. Once he made a habit of the sessions, he continued to get up at 4:45 am and had breakfast at the same time. Next, he built a morning walk on his rest days at the same time he did his gym sessions.

4. Make yourself accountable

Creating a system to keep yourself accountable can help you stick to your goals.

Recruiting someone else, whether it is a friend, family member or a personal trainer to keep you on track can be a powerful motivator. Ideally, you want someone who can check in on your progress and you can talk openly and honestly with. It can be easy to try and do it all by yourself, but it helps to have someone to give you an extra boost when you need it.

It also helps to measure your results so you can see what worked and why. This could be using progress photos, weigh-ins, measurements, or trackers. At Plexus, we use a combination of these methods, depending on our clients’ goals.

5. Celebrate, assess, and reset

Setting yourself a timeline to reassess your goals will help you to build momentum and reach your larger goals.

It allows you to celebrate your wins and be honest with yourself. If something isn’t working, try to understand why and brainstorm ways you can better set yourself up for success next time. You will face challenges, which is why it is important to set yourself a plan to overcome them. There is no shame in scaling back the difficulty if it means you will be more consistent.

When you succeed, make sure you increase the difficulty, whether that means adding in another day of exercise or increasing the weight or duration of exercise. Remember, you want your small changes to compound over time to remarkable results.

To find out how we can help you achieve your health and fitness goals, book an appointment with us today.

 

References

[1] https://medium.com/@aidanhornsby/notes-on-atomic-habits-c021e38eeae7

[2] Ryan, R. M., and Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation Development and Wellness. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

[3] https://jamesclear.com/new-habit

[4] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejsp.674