How to Set Healthy Fitness and Diet Goals

Setting fitness goals is an art and a science. Overly-ambitious goals will feel brave and inspiring at first but will soon weigh you down with their unreasonable demands. We’ve created a series of tips that will help you turn your wildest dreams into a series of goals that will feel both lofty and attainable.    

Start Now

Do it. Do it today. Don’t think of reasons why you can’t. Don’t wait until you are in a little better shape, or work eases up, or the weather improves. It will never be easy to start, and you will never feel like you are ready. If it’s never a convenient time to do it, that means the best time is now.

Think Small

“Winning a is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing,” said famed football coach and sound-bite machine Vince Lombardi. In other words, you build positive momentum behind a chain of accomplishments. The opposite is true for a string of failures. Make your goals small and attainable, and then renew them every 30 days or so. If you currently bench press 175 pounds and you eventually want to hit 225 pounds, make 185 pounds your next target. Celebrate those small victories on the way to your larger goal.

Don’t Do Everything At Once

If you have multiple goals, make sure they don’t compete. Let’s say your goals are: hit the gym every day, cook at home more often, bike to work twice a week, and go to bed earlier. Those are well-rounded goals, but they all take hours out of your day and are most likely impossible to accomplish concurrently. At the start, make at least some of your goals easy on your schedule as you transition into this new lifestyle. Create some time-neutral or time-saving goals, such as drinking more water throughout the day, watch less Netflix, meal prep on Sundays, or play fewer video games.

Use Metrics

The best goals are measurable. “Work out more” is too vague and difficult to maintain your accountability. Keep your goal measurable but also within your power to control. Losing 10 pounds or adding 20 pounds to your squat are measurable goals but can be influenced by hormone fluctuation or injuries or a million other things. A goal such as “Get to the gym 24 times this month” is both measurable and under your control. 

Make Them Known

You can argue that social media has been great for the fitness world, or the worst thing ever. (We can see both sides.) But it is good for one thing: putting your goals into the public sphere. Sharing your fitness and nutrition aspirations with your network will increase the accountability you feel to accomplish your stated goals. Just consider yourself a fitness “influencer.”

Stay Positive

This might be the most important step: Be quick to forgive yourself. If you blow one of your goals – maybe you overshot, or you had a stressful month – move right along and set up the next 30-day goal. Try to keep a short memory for failures and a long memory for accomplishments. After all, you and that critical voice inside your head are all on the same team.

Mike Carlson

Mike Carlson

Medical Science/Health Writer and Editor - http://bit.ly/3anof4K

Mike Carlson is a freelance health and fitness writer and a lifelong Southern Californian. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles what feels like a long time ago, and has been a full-time editor for Los Angeles Magazine, Men’s Fitness, and the UFC, as well as a copy writer for various nutritional supplement companies. As a health reporter, he’s crafted features for the American Optometric Association, Stanford Health Care, the National Hemophilia Foundation and USA Today. Mike spends most of his free time applying sunscreen, but between slatherings he coaches soccer, competes in various endurance races and loves to explore the culinary and outdoor majesty of his home state. Current obsessions include the Los Angeles Dodgers, kombucha and distilling bourbon at home. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two children, and a bulldog named Frankie.