We couldn’t think of a better person to advise us on goal-setting than Alice Liveing (aka Clean Eating Alice)! Below, she reveals her top tips to setting goals and achieving your fitness dreams!
I have discussed and touched on goals prior to this, and here I will help you to create your own bespoke goals. At the start of any fitness plan, you need to assess exactly what it is you want to achieve, and perhaps choose a variety of aims encompassing both short- and long-term achievements that you wish to accomplish. With all of my clients, the most important message I want to give them during our first few sessions together is to aim to make their goals life-affirming and practical, and not just aesthetic.
Practical goals can be anything ranging from achieving your first deadlift to completing a bodyweight push-up to simply increasing your activity levels throughout the week. For instance, if you struggle to do something like a push-up, or you’ve never learned to properly squat before, I’d encourage you to see these as things to work towards, instead of aiming to shift that stubborn bit of body fat on your stomach.
These goals are far more measurable than just looking in the mirror and focusing on your perception of negative aspects of your physique. There is no detox tea, ab crunch or magic wand that is going to help you spot-reduce fat, so it’s at this point that I urge you to look past aesthetics and try to see the bigger picture. Aligning your aims to be exercise-based will help you to keep focused without obsessing over bodily hang-ups, and instead bring attention to your training, which will, in turn, bring about physical improvements.
While learning to be a personal trainer I was told about the SMART principle, and was encouraged to use this with clients. It’s something I have maintained and applied to my own training and that of my clients.
SMART stands for SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC and TIME-MANAGED
SPECIFIC: It’s important to create specific goals that don’t just include vague ambitions such as, ‘I want to lose weight, and tone up.’ Focus on what it is exactly that you want, write it down and be specific with each ambition.
MEASURABLE: By creating specific goals, such as achieving a full-body push-up or training three times a week, you are able to measure and track your progress. So this is an excellent way of monitoring progress, moving away from a number on the scales and instead basing your fitness progress on practical achievements.
ACHIEVABLE: While it’s totally OK to be ambitious with your goals, sometimes if they are too far-fetched your finish line can seem a million miles away, leading to a loss of motivation when you are a long way from reaching it. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to have both short- and long-term goals so that you have varying levels of attainability with them. With your short-term goals, perhaps focus on things that are weekly to monthly, such as aiming to train three times a week, or prepping a packed lunch every weekday, while your long-term goals could be things like achieving a full pull-up or running a half-marathon.
REALISTIC: There are some things we just can’t change about our bodies. I’d love to be a little taller, but sometimes we just need to accept the bodies we’ve been given and learn to love the skin we’re in. With this in mind, it’s important to be realistic about what is actually achievable and what we must accept we cannot change.
TIME-MANAGED: Having a goal with an open-ended completion date can cause you to lose motivation to achieve it, for the very reason that there is no definitive date set to reach it. By setting a time-frame such as three months to do ‘x’, you know how long you have to get to that point, and are then able to put a plan in place to achieve it.
It’s also worth mentioning here that it is totally OK to not achieve goals, or to simply put them off until you are in the right mindset to achieve them. We never know what is around the corner in life, and sometimes when the going gets tough, the added pressure of striving to achieve set goals can often feel overwhelming. For this reason, it must be said that while goals are important in your fitness journey, also knowing when to modify them, or to put your health and happiness first, is of equal importance. Beating yourself up about not hitting set targets gets you nowhere, so be kind to yourself and know when to take a step back and try again when you’re in a better position.
words by Alice Liveing, extracted from her new book, Everyday Fitness