New Years’ Fitness Resolution Countdown: 9

9 days until we start 2014. 9 days to figure out how you’re going to succeed at your new years’ fitness resolutions.

So, here’s another tip to help you not suck at this: Make substantive, quantifiable goals.

One of the tactics that people adopt for achieving their health and fitness goals is to hire a personal trainer. Heck, I even tried it once, but that was a dismal failure. Why? Because I had no idea what I actually wanted to accomplish. I met my trainer at the appointed hour at the gym and he started by asking me what my goals were.

Me: Um, to be more fit than this?
Trainer: So, are you interested in strength, endurance, weight loss?
Me: Um, I’d like to be more toned.
Trainer: [laughs maniacally like some villain from a James Bond film]

Ok, the laughing part didn’t really happen, but as I replay the tape of our exchanges in my head I do realize that my trainer knew two things as soon as we had this conversation. One, he knew that I had no clue what progress was going to look like, so he really didn’t have to put much effort into creating my program, and two, he knew I’d probably keep spending money on him until I got frustrated, which would either be pretty quickly or years from now.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t evaluate progress. Come up with quantifiable goals.

– X lbs lost
– reduction in body fat by X %
– ability to do X pull-ups and X push-ups
– run a mile in under 10 minutes
– drop waist size by 2 inches in 6 months

Those are quantifiable goals that can be measured against and tracked. They are also goals that you can associate specific behaviors with so you can work towards them. If your goal is losing weight then you know you need to increase your overall physical activity and reduce your food intake (or at least eliminate junk food). Want to be able to do a certain number of pull-ups? Then you’ll need to come up with a plan to do resistance exercises that will build you up to doing that many pull-ups. And so on.

So, come up with a set of well-defined and specific goals, then build your plan to achieve those goals, and set up a system for measuring your progress.

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