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Whether you’re starting the year with a resolution to lose weight, or you’re trying to shape up for summer, creating fitness goals are an important part of the process to staying of track and achieving success.

As much as we want to think it’s going to be a straight track to our goals, most people do have setbacks. It’s how you deal with those setbacks that is important. You overdid it at a party, and the scale moved in the opposite direction this week. This is not the time to throw in the towel. Give yourself a break, and rally for the week ahead. Let small setbacks serve as motivation rather than frustration. The best diet and lifestyle changes involve allowing yourself to have the things you love in moderation. And these tips may also help you stick to and keep your fitness goals:

1. Create Small, Realistic Goals

It’s a daunting task to try and lose weight and get in shape. It’s best to start with small, attainable goals that are realistic. With all the diet fads out there, you might be thinking you should never eat a carb again, or that dessert is out of the question forever. When you start with harsh goals, it’s more likely you’ll give up because they don’t allow room for human error. Instead of creating a goal to exercise seven days a week, try starting with 4-5 days. Instead of looking at the big picture of wanting to lose 30 pounds, start with a goal of 5 pounds. Or even just 1.

2. Find an Activity Your Like

If you dread going that boot camp class every week, don’t be afraid to look for alternatives. The great thing about exercise is it comes in endless forms. Whether you are committing to a 30-minute walk, or a new Zumba class, choose something you enjoy. If you are having fun, you are much more likely to stick with your exercise program.

3.  Reward Yourself

The reward system is great…as long as you aren’t rewarding yourself with a large box of chocolate! It’s very important to celebrate your success. If you’ve kept your exercise plan for the week, and stuck to a healthy diet, treat yourself to something that doesn’t counteract your fitness goal.

When you have smaller goals you have more opportunities to celebrate your success. Treat yourself to some new workout gear or a something that flatters your new shape.

As you get closer to your goal size, shopping for clothes becomes much more fun. Another great idea is to reward yourself with something fun to do. Take a break from your regular fitness routine with a hike in the park.

4. Get a Trainer or Find a Workout Buddy

It’s all about accountability. Spending the money on a personal trainer is likely enough motivation to stay on top of all of your training appointments. Another great option is to find a workout buddy. A friend with a similar goal of weight loss or getting into shape with serve as great motivation.

It’s easy to look around your house and see all the things you could be doing rather than exercising. Having an exercise date with a friend will make you more likely to keep up with your routine.

5. Track Your Progress

It’s important to recognize your success. Even the small successes are important. If you set out to lose 2lbs this week and you only lost one, it’s not the time to throw in the towel. Appreciate that you still had a loss, and you are one pound closer to your goal weight.

I recommend that my clients only step on the scale once per week. Choose a time (first thing in the morning is best) and stick to that weekly tracking system. Remember, your weight does fluctuate during the day and week. It’s important not to obsess about the number on the scale. It’s more important to focus on how your clothes are fitting, and how you feel.

6. Keep a Food Journal

This is my least favorite of the tips to stay on target with your fitness goals, but it is also one of the most important. When I started keeping a food journal, I realized just how many little bites of things I ate throughout the day. As a mom of three, I could likely survive on what’s leftover on their plates, but those little bites here and there do add up.

I found that I was eating several hundred extra calories per day when I was not keeping a food journal. The journal helps you have more accountability for everything you put in your mouth. There is a choice, and it’s important to think before you eat.

Additional Reading:

4 Steps to Setting Fearless Goals

Tiny Habits Can Create Big Change

Image by: Life Mental Health