How to Set and Maintain Your Fitness Goals

By: Sheila Allameh, Psy.D. | April 5, 2024

The spring season has officially begun! The days are longer, and the weather is warmer, allowing more opportunity to be outside and move our bodies. The increased serotonin from healthy movement and Vitamin D from the sun naturally boosts your mood and energy, giving you the motivation you need to set, and maintain your fitness goals.

If you find yourself losing momentum on your New Year’s fitness goals, you’re not alone. Despite one’s best efforts to reduce or gain weight, staying on a consistent exercise plan tends to wax and wane as we attempt to achieve work-life balance. There are several reasons why the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year don’t stick, and it may be time to learn How to Renew Your New Year Resolutions. This article will discuss strategies to help you define your goals more clearly, understand the obstacles in your way, and create strategies to overcome them.

Tips for Success in Achieving Your Fitness Goals

1. Set Your Fitness Goal

The key to setting a fitness goal that will stick is to focus on a specific objective. Successful goals use the SMART framework which is: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Challenge yourself and your assumptions! Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

  • “I don’t have time.”
  • “Gym memberships are expensive.”
  • “I’ve tried everything and nothing works.”
  • “I don’t know where to start.”
  • “This is too hard.”

There are many reasons not to prioritize fitness, but are they valid? Be honest with yourself about your goals. How true is it that you don’t have the time, or are you making excuses? Are your goals realistic or too complex?

If you are new to fitness or returning to fitness after a break, be gentle with yourself and set realistic expectations. You don’t need to work out for several hours a day to notice changes. Research shows that small, and consistent, changes over time are likely to be successful in the long-term versus fad diets or brief weight management programs. Physical fitness is a long-term goal that can boost your mental well-being for years to come.

2. Decide What Matters Most to You

Goals that have personal meaning are more likely to succeed compared to goals that are arbitrary and not reflective of the things that matter the most to you. For example, research shows that marathon runners are more motivated and successful in adhering to a training program when they set goals such as: meet new people, boost mood, and increase energy, compared to losing a set number of pounds or setting a specific finish time. When we set goals that are realistic and attainable, we are more likely to succeed, feel good about ourselves, and are thus more motivated and encouraged to keep working hard.

3. Get Creative

Many of us work desk jobs and sit in a chair while staring at a computer screen. As a result, we must make a concerted effort to prioritize healthy movement into our routines. It can be hard to motivate ourselves at the end of a hard day, so take advantage of daylight savings time and get outside. Experiment with the longer days and try an early morning walk or meet a friend for a hike after work. Can’t get outside? Try a walking pad at your desk while working or watching television. Purchase a sit/stand desk to change your position. Set your computer or phone to remind you to take a break every 50 minutes to stand up and stretch, or park further away to get additional steps. If you aren’t sure where to start, begin with a ten-minute walk around the block at your home or office. It might not seem like much at first, but when you combine all these small steps, you’ll gradually increase your endurance and make sustainable progress towards your goal.

4. Be Social

One of the many challenges I hear from clients is feeling lonely and isolated. In our technological era, we are more isolated than ever, and there are increasing rates of loneliness across the U.S. What better way to meet people than to join an exercise class? With this two-in-one method, you will get healthy movement and increase your socialization. Consider joining an athletic club or an amateur sports team. If you prefer to work out from the comfort of your home, invite a friend over to work out or become a member of the many fitness apps that offer an online community for additional support.

Maintain Your Fitness Goals Checklist

  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
  • Eat well balanced and nutritious meals and food that boosts your mood
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Make small, gradual changes
  • Track your progress
  • Set realistic goals
  • Focus on consistency, rather than maximum output
  • Invite a friend on your journey or meet new people
  • Have fun
  • Get outside for mood-boosting Vitamin D

Learning How to Set Goals You’ll Actually Achieve isn’t easy. Working with a professional San Diego Psychologist will help you succeed in accomplishing your goals. Your therapist will provide you with focused guidance, support and encouragement and help create a tailor-made plan just for you.

If you feel stuck, unsure of how to get started, or experience challenges that make it difficult to accomplish your goals, the team at Therapy Changes is here to help. Contact Us today to learn more about How Therapy Works and What To Expect and schedule an appointment.

You can do this!



Photo by Mary West on Unsplash

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