By: Reed Phinisey, Coordinator, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center
You start where you are! There is no sense setting a goal that is not realistic. It takes time to develop fitness and weeks of training is needed to “run a mile” if you are currently sedentary. One way to break it up is to build a SMART goal. No, I don’t mean intellectually, well kind of; not the word ‘smart’ but rather the acronym.
Using such a tool is helpful in developing goals that are individually tailored, and therefore more likely to be achieved. Furthermore, figure on short-term and long-term goals. Here’s an example of a short-term goal:
“I will go for a 30-minute brisk walk twice next week”.
Short term goals are a great tool for building towards a more long-term goal. They relate well and even build off one another. If you are successful going for two 30-minute walks, you’ll build on that to look something like “I will go for two 30-minute walks each week for the next month”. Eventually you may increase to three walks per week as you work up to the 150 minutes per week that is the current physical activity recommendation for maintaining health. If you were not successful meeting your goal to take two 30-minute walks, that’s o.k. Your next step is figuring out why it didn’t work, and adjusting the goal. Perhaps you needed to have specified a time that you’ll go for those walks? The days just got away from you and it didn’t happen. So now you try “I will get up 30 minutes early to go for a brisk walk twice next week”. Give that a try. If it doesn’t work, tweek it again – “I’ll use my lunch break for a brisk walk twice next week”. Keep trying until you find something that works! Maybe walking isn’t for you and you decide “I will ride my bike around campus for 30 extra minutes twice next week”. Eventually you’ll run into what works for you!
Using short-term goals allows us to build adherence towards a program and work progressively towards a larger goal. This progression also allows us to adapt along the way when we potentially do encounter hiccups.
And at the end of the day it’s for you and not for anyone else. We don’t need to compare ourselves with portrayals of what is “fit” or healthy or with our peers but rather find victory in the little things. This doesn’t need to be quantitative (ex: lbs. lost) but it should rather be qualitative (ex: I’m feeling better).
Come As You Are.