SARAH IS ONE OF OUR FOUR COACHES, PARTNERED WITH STUDENT SOPHIE. SARAH IS A 4-TIME OLYMPIAN, 2-TIME WORLD CHAMPION & FORMER SUNDAY TIMES SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR. SHE IS NOW AN ONLINE COACH, PRESIDENT OF BRITISH TAEKWONDO & CHARITY PATRON.
It doesn't matter if you're a fitness enthusiast, a weekend warrior, or just trying to get healthy—everyone should set fitness, health & personal goals. And I'm not just talking about pencilling them in on a calendar and hoping for the best. I'm talking about planning out each step needed to achieve your goals, from what you'll eat and how often you'll work out to what sort of support system you'll put in place. Here's why setting (and reaching) your fitness goals is so important!
Setting goals for your fitness is important for a number of reasons. First, they give you something to strive for. Without a goal, it can be easy to become complacent with your fitness level and settle into a workout routine that isn't challenging enough to help you improve.
Second, fitness goals help to motivate you. When you have a specific goal in mind, it's easier to stick to your workout routine and stay motivated even on days when you don't feel like working out.
Finally, fitness goals help to hold you accountable – perhaps the biggest driver in achieving your fitness goals, even more so than motivation. If you’re accountable to someone else, like a personal trainer, or create accountability for yourself by stating your goals to friends and family, you will immediately create a situation in which those goals are more important to achieve. When you have a goal that you're working towards, you're more likely to stay on track and avoid falling off the wagon.
So how do you go about setting fitness goals? First, think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to lose weight, build muscle, improve your cardiovascular health, beat some personal bests or all of the above? Once you have a general idea of what you want to accomplish, start setting specific goals. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, commit to losing a certain number of pounds within a certain timeframe. If your goal is to build strength, set a goal for how much you want to get to with each lift. Once you have specific goals in mind, start planning out how you're going to achieve them.
If you're having trouble figuring out how to get started, consider hiring a personal trainer or online coach. They can help you develop a plan that's tailored to your specific goals and make sure you're using proper form to avoid injury, as well as adding that layer of accountability that can be so important.
Whenever you set a fitness goal, it's important to have a plan for measuring your progress. This will help you track your progress and ensure that you're actually moving closer to your goal. Numbers are your friend, and that shouldn't be limited to the scales. Setting short-term goals alongside your long-term ones will help you celebrate smaller wins and keep you motivated - everyone loves a success and waiting 12 months for the final product won't give you that dopamine boost to keep you going.
So, break your goal down into more manageable chunks and use those as stepping stones. For weight loss goals, this could be committing to lose 2 pounds a week until you reach your target weight. For strength gain, this could be aiming to add a couple of kilos to your lifts each month. Having these smaller goals will help you stay on track and make the process seem less daunting.
Finally, once you have your goals set and a plan in place, it's important to stick to it. This is where accountability comes in again. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with people who will support your goals, whether that's taking the journey with friends or training with a personal trainer. Find an accountability partner who will help you stay on track when motivation is low.
Just like fitness goals, setting nutrition goals is important for a number of reasons. Good nutrition is essential for overall health and well-being, and it can be easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to what we eat.
Setting nutrition goals will help you make better choices when it comes to the food you eat and give you something to strive for. There are some hard rules when it comes to nutrition that can be important for goal setting - a calorie deficit will see you lose weight and a calorie surplus will see you gain weight. But the science behind that is where you can accelerate your goals. Not all calories are made equal and you should be factoring goals for your macros based on your fitness regime. Less isn't always better when it comes to things like carbs - if you have an intense fitness schedule then you'll need the energy, and so whilst cutting carbs completely might seem like a good idea your workouts will suffer for it.
Bringing in a dietician or nutritionist to help plan your nutrition goals can be a game-changer. They'll be able to assess your current diet and make recommendations for where you can make improvements. They can also help you develop a plan that's tailored to your specific goals - whether that's losing weight, gaining muscle or simply improving your overall health and happiness.
When it comes to finding balance in life, personal goals are just as important as fitness and nutrition ones. These are the goals that will help you feel happier and more fulfilled, both physically and mentally.
Some examples of personal goals could be committing to spend more time with family and friends, taking up a new hobby, or traveling more. It's important to find goals that resonate with you and will make you happy. These goals should be something you can look forward to and help bring some joy into your life.
Using the SMART method for goal setting can make the most daunting of end-goals feel achievable. You’ve probably heard of SMART goals before, but if not here’s a quick refresher:
S – Specific: Your goal should be clear and well defined. Having a specific goal gives you something to aim for and helps to keep you on track.
M – Measurable: A good goal should be quantifiable so that you can track your progress and see how close you are to achieving it.
A – Achievable: Make sure your goal is achievable and realistic. Having an impossible goal will only lead to disappointment and frustration.
R – Relevant: Your goal should be relevant to your overall lifestyle and wellbeing. It shouldn’t be something that’s out of reach or doesn’t fit with your life.
T – Time-bound: A goal without a timeline is just a dream. Make sure you set a deadline for your goal so that you can stay motivated and on track.
When it comes to finding balance in life, setting SMART goals is a great place to start. By having specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals, you can work towards a more balanced life that feels more fulfilling and happier.
Start by setting some small goals that you can achieve in the short-term. These could be things like drinking more water each day or going for a walk every evening. Once you've ticked those off your list, you can start working on some bigger goals that will take more time and effort. But remember, take it one step at a time and don't overwhelm yourself.
It's important to find balance in all areas of your life, including fitness, nutrition and personal goals. Achieving balance can be a challenge, but it's so important for overall health and wellbeing. By setting fitness, nutrition and personal goals, you'll be on the right track to finding that balance and living a happier, healthier life.
Goal setting was a crucial part of my training as an elite athlete. It took me to four Olympic games, won me an Olympic medal, 2 World championships and a long list of other accolades that were recognised with my MBE and winning Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year. I now employ these basic principles in my every day life, which allows me to find balance amid raising two children, being the current President of British Taekwondo, a motivational speaker, charity patron and online coach where I help bring that Olympic mindset to people's everyday lives.
Follow my 12 week journey as I help Sophie fall back in love with fitness after giving birth to her son, over at @factoryweightsuk on Instagram or by signing up to our newsletters.
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