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Make Your Fitness Goals Count

Make your Fitness Goals Count
By Jose A. Hernandez

I cannot tell you that I’m a good health and fitness role model. I know I’m NOT! And I can’t tell you that my level of fitness and overall health is better than yours Chances are it isn’t. But, I CAN tell you that goal setting (in addition to bent cycling, of course) HAS helped me immensely. If you’ve ever visited my personal web site (http://www.getbent.org), you know that several years ago I was a most perfect couch potato. But you may not know that I was in such bad shape; a life insurance company actually rejected me. At the time, this “little” rejection gave me something to think about but it wasn’t enough to trigger a healthier life style change. Other events took care of that. Shortly after being denied a life insurance policy (in the early 90’s), my father had a quadruple by-pass surgery (BTW, he died almost two years ago) and right around this time, my mother’s health started on the very slow downward spiral that eventually took her life a few weeks ago. As I saw my parent’s health deteriorate, I developed a burning desire to improve my fitness level and hopefully avoid following most of my parent’s unhealthy footsteps.

Fortunately for me, I simultaneously discovered (and nose dived into) the “recumbent lifestyle” and learned a few goal-setting tips & tricks. The results are obvious to me. At 52 I feel stronger, fitter, more energetic and healthier than I did when I was 25. At the very least, whatever it is I’m doing seems to work as I can tell you that I overcame my life insurance challenge. Unfortunately, I suppose that means that I’m worth more dead than alive! But the good news and the whole point of this article is that anyone can learn about goal setting and its benefits. There are literally hundreds of published studies and articles on the subject. Most of them support the belief or the theory that goal setting – especially when done correctly – is effective in improving our chances for success. These techniques work for me and others. They might just work for you.

Look at your reasons before you set your goals:

Though goal setting cannot give you the desire to accomplish anything, it can help you get there once you’ve examined your reasons. I think that the desire to accomplish something comes from within and is based on your own personal values (that which you think is important) and your own life experience. Before setting a goal, you might want to look inside – deep inside – and try to figure out what it is you want and WHY you want it. Some studies suggest that having the “right” reasons can make a difference. For example, some researchers think that those who set a goal to improve themselves in some way may have a better chance for success than those who set a goal just to “beat” someone.

I gave you my reasons for wanting to be healthier and fitter. So…. what are yours?

Essential components of Goal Setting

Simply put, a goal is just about anything that we want to achieve. But, goal setting is not just about verbalizing a desire. A statement of what we want is just a wish. Goal setting is actually a method or a group of skills by which we can structure this “desire” into a plan that will help us achieve that goal. While I have found many of these techniques to be VERY helpful, I realize that they may not work for everyone and that they should NOT be viewed as the “answer” to everything. Thus, the scope of this article is, of necessity, limited. It is not my intention to list every single goal-setting tip that has ever been mentioned in the books. Instead, I would like to go over the guidelines that seem to work for me

 

·       A goal must be meaningful and important to you. This goes back to the previous paragraph. If the goal is not important to you, your chance for success is compromised.

 

·       A goal should be challenging yet reasonable and achievable. It should be slightly beyond your grasp – research shows that a challenging goal can enhance your performance but don’t reach for the stars. Reaching for the stars might be “poetic” but when it comes to goals, it can leave you frustrated. It is hard to get back on the right path when you are frustrated.

 

·       A goal should be very specific. Instead of saying:” I want to lose 10 pounds”, say “I want to lose 10 pounds by the end of October. In picking a date, it helps to pick a date that you can remember. For example you could write down a goal like this: “I want to lose 10 pounds or cut 3 minutes out of the time it takes me to ride 10 miles by Halloween.”

 

·       A goal should be measurable in some way. If you can’t measure the outcome, you may never know if you achieved it.

 

A goal should have a plan of action, especially if it is a short-term goal, which by the way, is pretty much the only type of goal that works for me. My long-term goals are so fuzzy and undefined; they can easily be classified as vague dreams. However, I do believe in short term goals. Laugh if you want but as soon as I get up in the morning I come up with a few little goals for the day. I also have a few goals for the week or the month but because of my personal worldview, I don’t usually go beyond that. I just don’t believe in long-range plans. This is not to say you should not have long-term goals. This is just to confess to you that I seem to do better with a bunch of short-term goals. The important thing to remember is that you should have a well defined/detailed plan that clearly shows how you expect to meet your goal. What will it take to get you there? Do your homework. Read and/or ask

·       Commit to the goal and find ways to stay motivated. You can try one of the following tricks:

·       Write down your goal. (Ok, maybe not all of them, but the real important ones)

·       Share your goal – This little trick works for me. Just identify a person or persons who are supportive of your goal(s)l and tell them about it. On the other hand, if you know that the folks around you won’t support you, then keep the goal to yourself.

·       Find others with similar goals. They are out there looking for you too. Find folks who share your worldview and interests. Join a club or be a club founder. Today’s Internet technology makes this easier than ever.

·       Promise to reward yourself if you achieve your goal. Think of something you either want or want to do. Do it or get it. Remember to make a big deal out of achieving this goal and give yourself all the credit you deserve.

·       Forgive yourself if you don’t achieve the goal. I’ll be the first one to admit that I beat myself up every time I fail to meet a goal (and this happens more times than I care to admit). But I just have to remember that beating myself silly is never productive. Once I do that I’m able to get back on the right path. So if you fail to achieve a goal, just forgive yourself and keep in mind that life happens and often gets in the way of our intentions. Just don’t quit!!!! You DID NOT FAIL. You ONLY FAIL if you quit. Your goal was important to you and you deserve another chance. This is a time to examine your goal and examine the reasons why you did not achieve it. Perhaps the goal needs to be redefined or broken down into smaller goals. Perhaps the plan was faulty or the methods employed inefficient. If you plan did not work, just change the plan. Bad plans or ineffective methods are often a sign that we just need to do our homework and get reliable information. Don’t be afraid to ask for information.

Goal setting is a lot like learning to spin. At first, it will seem unnatural but in almost no time, it becomes a habit. It really is a lot easier than it sounds.

 

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