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Two Key Steps to Rocking Your Fitness Goals

Two Key Steps to Rocking Your Fitness Goals

Today is the day: The first day of the unstoppable surge toward your goal. You're going to hit the gym hard and lock down your diet, no excuses. Failure is not an option!

Except for one small problem: Failure is an option, and a common one at that. Just how much are the odds stacked against us when we embark on self-improvement? A recent university study revealed that 88% of all New Year's Resolutions go unfulfilled. That's a lot of broken promises.

Sure, we can all start with gung-ho energy and the best intentions, but sustaining that dedication is a challenge. Typically, we fail on two fronts:

  1. We don't set specific, attainable goals; and,

  2. We don't achieve true consistency in our efforts.

The first problem is easier to tackle. Instead of generically saying, "I'm going to get fit," define your goal. It must be quantifiable and measurable -- and the best way to do that is with numbers. It's not important that your figures be dead-on accurate. What is key is that you pick a number. That act gives you a quantifiable way to determine if you're making progress.

Here are two examples: "I'm going to gain 20 pounds of muscle in 8 months while keeping my bodyfat under 6 percent," or "In 6 months, I'm going to finish my first marathon with a 10-minute-per-mile average."

Expert Tip

Whether beginner or advanced, I recommend purchasing a really good bathroom scale that measures weight and bodyfat percentage. It's not about weighing the same as some movie star or pro athlete, but about having concrete data to gauge your progress. - Thomas B.

See the difference between "I want to get fit" and those two statements? Now you have a roadmap of exactly where you want to go. Once you've written out your intent, divide that long-range aim into smaller pieces, setting a deadline for each step. Write it all down, and tell your plans to everyone you know for a little added pressure.

Now, what about consistency? Sticking with it after the novelty has worn off? Fact is, working out incorrectly but consistently -- provided it's not dangerous and doesn't involve improper exercise form -- is better than doing it right inconsistently. You can build upon consistence. You can put in more effort, improve your technique. What you're doing may be imperfect, but it is a fitness foundation.

Consistency is essentially a replicable pattern of behaviors. You do an activity once, then at the next predetermined time, you do it again -- maybe even a little better. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Focusing on completing your daily patterns can be the very difference between success and failure, so start off with tasks you can accomplish, and that contribute to achieving your goals.

Here are some simple but effective examples:
  1. Take vitamins every morning with your breakfast. Bonus: Vitamins absorb better when taken with food, plus it's a great affirmation/reminder of your commitment to be fit.

  2. Workout first thing in the morning. This is one of the most powerful habits you can adopt. Not only does it dramatically improve adherence to an exercise regimen, it makes establishing productive patterns for the rest of your day much easier -- including getting to sleep at a regular hour.

  3. Make sure each meal has a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Keep your meals around 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat. You determine the right ratio for you, but having a target for each meal makes you less likely to approach mealtime haphazardly.

One easy way to stay on track is to keep a low-carb, no-fat, protein powder on hand. Pizza party at the office? No sweat. Have one slice, wash it down with 30 grams of protein you whipped up with some water in a shaker cup, and you hardly skipped a beat.

Try these strategies for yourself. Before you know it, you'll be better at completing your patterns, and that means you have become more consistent. You'll also be that much closer to your ultimate goal.

Whatever you'd like to achieve, don't wait another day -- start now by taking the first steps!

Michael Berg

Fitness Journalist & Training Expert
Michael Berg
A recognized expert in strength training, and an award-winning journalist, Michael Berg, NSCA-CPT, has covered health and fitness for two decades for publications such as Muscle & Fitness, MuscleMag, and Flex. Michael's ability to guide readers through the often-complex subjects of biomechanics and human performance has made him one of the most respected authorities in the field.

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