Salt Lake City, Utah (Good Things Utah) A major part of being successful in improving your health or setting fitness goals is setting realistic goals that people can reach.
Adam Ballenger is an exercise therapist at Intermountain Healthcare’s LiveWell Center in Park City, Utah. He works with people who are looking to improve their health through exercises geared to meet their body type and fitness level.
Ballenger says when goals are too lofty people can get discourage and quit all together. Consistency is often the most important step to improving health and fitness. Focusing on regular exercises instead of being concerned over the number of reps or weight can also lead to consistent progress.
Here are some other tips Ballenger suggests for setting realistic goals that are easier to achieve:
1. Try to measure your health and fitness by more than just your weight. While a healthy weight is important to maintain, it’s not the only measure of success.
Weight can fluctuate for a verity of reasons, and people can still be making progress on their fitness even if their weight isn’t going down. A good way to start is to get your annual physical to measure cholesterol, blood sugar and other health metrics, he said.
“After that another tool is a health assessment which can measure a person’s metabolic rate, body composition, and fitness level among other things. From there people can set measurable health and fitness goals beyond the scale,” Ballenger noted.
2. Look at fitness as a way to improving your overall mental and physical health, not just as a way of looking better.
“In an era of social media it can be easy to be discouraged when working out doesn’t turn into the “perfect” bodies seen on social media,” he said. “It’s easier for people to notice improvements in their overall health even with the moderate physical activity. Now more than ever, science shows us exercise is as important for emotional health as physical health. If you want to improve your mood, get moving and if possible, exercise.”
3. Set fitness goals with things you enjoy doing.
“If you don’t like running then don’t make it a major part of your workout. Do exercises you enjoy and they will be easier to stick with,” said Ballenger.
4. Stop comparing yourself to other people when setting fitness goals.
“Everyone’s body is different and the path to a fitness goal will be as well. Set goals that are attainable, and be ready with another set of goals once you reach the first set. With goals, it’s important to start with successes, even if you think they are small successes,” he said.
5. What you eat is key to any fitness goal – you can’t out-exercise poor nutritional habits.
People should access what their fitness goals are before changing their eating habits. Bulking up muscle or preparing for marathons are going to require different nutritional needs, Ballanger said.
6. A major key is not to diet, but to instead see this as a long-term change to adopting healthier eating habits.
“Don’t try to do everything at once and know you don’t have to be perfect to make progress,” he said. “Stop looking at food as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but instead as some things that should be enjoyed in moderation. Diets fail because they heavily restrict what you can eat and people are more likely to go off the rails and overeat ‘bad’ foods.”
8. Join a community.
“If you can find people to join you in your journey, even if it’s just for the occasional walk, or to talk about new food recipes, community helps. In addition to the support of having a community as part of your process, sharing in our journey can also make it a more delightful adventure,” Ballanger added.
For more information, visit the Intermountain Healthcare website.