How Much Weight Can I Realistically Lose In 1 Month Setting Goals for Your Exercise Program

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Setting Goals for Your Exercise Program

One of the first steps you should take when starting an exercise program is to set some goals for yourself. Simply put, you need to be clear about what you want to do. For example, you may want to lose weight, improve your athletic performance, improve your general health, reduce your risk of disease, feel better or some combination of these. Whatever you want to achieve, I suggest you use the SMART Goal process to increase your chances of success. SMART stands for specific, can be measured, can be achieved, relevant and bound by time.

1. Specific. Make sure your goals are precise and stated in performance requirements. For example, if you want to lose weight, your goal might be “lose 10 pounds in the next 8 weeks.” If you want to improve your athletic performance, your goal might be “to run a sub 20-min 5K at the end of the season.” If you want to improve your body composition, your goal could be “reduce your body fat percentage to 20% in the next 6 months.”

2. It can be measured. A goal is measurable when it is easy to determine whether it has been accomplished. The weight loss goals mentioned above are easy to measure. 8 weeks from now you will weigh 10 pounds less or not. Also, with performance goals and body composition, it will be easy to determine if you are successful. Conversely, the goal of “reducing disease risk” is not measurable. A better goal is to “reduce your LDL cholesterol by 20 points over the next 6 months.”

3. It can be achieved. One of the biggest mistakes people make in the goal setting process is setting goals that are impossible to achieve. Your goals should be set high, but they should also be realistic. A goal to lose 20 pounds in 4 weeks is both unrealistic and unhealthy. Also, if you are new to running and set a goal to complete a marathon 3 months from now, you are setting yourself up for both failure and pain. Set goals that are challenging but achievable.

4. Relevant. Your goals should be important to you as an individual. Don’t set a goal just because a friend, family member or sports partner has already set it. Remember, your goals will be your main motivation to stick with your exercise program, so make sure they are important to you.

5. Time-Bound. Make sure each goal has a specific time frame to complete. This allows you to easily determine whether it has been earned. It also increases your chances of completing each goal because you know the clock is ticking! For example, if you want to lose weight, an effective time-based goal might be “By January 1st, I will lose 15 pounds and reduce my body fat percentage to 18%. Of course, this is assuming you don’t set this goal on Christmas Day! Labor Day will be providing a more realistic time frame.

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