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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Get SMART This Year: Fitness Goal Setting

GettyImages-474222302Think about some top goals you have. Maybe your top goal is to lose weight. Your weight-loss journey is what I call the “Big Picture”—your target on losing weight and starting a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes the big picture can be daunting. Many might perceive this goal as too big, or virtually unattainable. But IT IS ATTAINABLE! It just takes focus and hard work.

The best way to accomplish your big-picture goal is to first make the goal SMART (more on that shortly). Then, create smaller, short-term goals that you can check off along the way. These are sometimes called action steps. Action steps will allow you to create small habits that will help you not only REACH your goal, but also ultimately maintain your success.

GET SMART

SMART is an acronym:

  • Specific: Clearly identify the goal. Be concise.
  • Measurable: Attach a measure to the goal such as inches or blood-work measurements (%, mg/dL, etc), minutes, or percentage).
  • Attainable: Ensure that the goals are realistic and manageable. Really think deeply about this. Be honest about yourself and your lifestyle.
  • Relevant: Make sure the goal is important to you.
  • Time-bound: Define the timeframe during which you are aiming to achieve the goal.

Here are some SMART goal examples:

  • I will decrease my mile time from 8:30 to 8 minutes over the next 4 weeks.
  • I will drink 100 oz of water each day for the next 4 weeks.
  • I will decrease my HgA1c by 1% in 3 months.

Create Your Action Steps

Now that you have determined the BIG GOAL, it is time to create action steps that will help you reach that goal. Think of these as mini SMART goals.

  1. List 3-5 action steps (or habits) that pertain to your overall goal.
  2. Explain how they will help you reach the big goal.
  3. Decide how you are going to track your success with each action step you take.

Here are some examples of action steps:

Let’s use the SMART goal example from above. I will decrease my mile time from 8:30 to 8 minutes over the next 4 weeks. Here are some action steps that may help someone reach that goal:

  • Run 5 days per week for 15–30 minutes over the course of 4 weeks.
  • Run 4, 1-mile repeats 1 time per week until I retest my mile time in 4 weeks.
  • Hire a running coach immediately to assist me in programming a customized running plan.

Questions to Ask Yourself Later

Once you’ve achieved an action step, ask yourself these questions:

  • How did you do?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • Was it easy to do, or were you pretty challenged to stay on track?
  • Does it still pertain to your overall goal?
  • What worked and what didn’t?
  • What needs to change?

The answers to these questions will help you determine whether you are staying focused on your goal, whether you are ready to take on or create another SMART goal, or if you need a little more time to concentrate on the one you are trying to turn into a habit.

Once you feel that you have accomplished your goal, work on another. Make changes and adjustments as needed throughout your journey. And even though these steps seem small, they ultimately lead to a large reward.

Check out this blog for an even closer look at the goal-setting process and why it's important!

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This blog was written by Sabrina Goshen, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: goal setting resolutions new year's fitness goals smart goals

Bulletproof Your Health and Fitness New Year’s Resolutions

GettyImages-901324170Where did this year go? Whether it was the best year of your life, or you’re looking forward to a fresh start in the new year, you may likely have some health and fitness goals at the top of your list of resolutions. How do you make sure they aren’t just a pipe dream? Let’s find out!

Set (the Right Type of) Goals

Goals should be an obvious part of any resolution, but setting the right types of goals isn’t always so clear. To ensure that your goals are fulfilled, they need to be SMART:

  • Specific: You must have a specific attribute for improvement in mind.
  • Measurable: There must be some way to measure your progress.
  • Achievable: Setting realistic goals is crucial to motivate short-term success.
  • Relevant: Goals need to be relevant to what you want, not what you think other people want.
  • Time-sensitive: You must have a timeline for your goals in order to measure success.

There are many alternatives to this acronym, but following these simple guidelines will force you to consider goals that are actually meaningful to you. Your aspirations should be just that—yours. Otherwise, the motivation to succeed becomes increasingly external, which leads to only skin-deep rewards. Successfully achieved internally motivated goals are much more rewarding in the long run.

Get a Starting Point

A huge mistake that is easy to make when goal-setting is not knowing where you’re starting. Without an accurate baseline value, you have no reference point for comparison to where you end. Don’t wait until you “get in shape” to test yourself. As painful as it can be, testing yourself at your “worst” will only make your accomplishments that much more rewarding.

We offer access to a wide variety of assessments to our members here at NIFS, and we take pride in providing feedback on your progress throughout your fitness journey. Whether you’re looking to track your body composition (body fat percentage), cardiorespiratory fitness level, movement quality, or even just your measurements, we encourage all of our members to take advantage of the complimentary assessments that we offer. After all, you can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re starting.

Retest!

After you’ve set your bulletproof SMART goals and established exactly where your starting point is, it’s time to get to work. Once you’ve reached your pre-established timeline for your goals, however, it’s time to retest! Just the same as establishing a baseline, it is absolutely vital to retest your initial measurements. Ideally your testing will be completed under similar conditions as your baseline tests, preferably at a similar time of the day with a similar state of digestion.

What is most important, though, is simply that you retest the same attributes you tested initially. There is nothing wrong with testing something new, but make sure that you’re at least measuring a value that has already been measured. Otherwise, you’ll have no feedback as to whether you were successful in achieving your goals. There truly is no more rewarding feeling than seeing black-and-white proof that you have improved from where you started. It just might be the motivation you need to stick to it in the long run.

As I said earlier, we take pride in assisting you in the goal-setting process from start to finish. You shouldn’t have to take on any goal, but especially a health-minded one, all on your own. Let us be part of your guidance toward being the best you possible in the New Year—and beyond!

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This blog was written by David Schoch, CSCS, FMS, and Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: motivation goal setting resolutions new year's assessment smart goals fitness assessment

Managing Athletic Injuries and Setbacks with Goal-Setting

GettyImages-672323222Having something come up that changes your routine or throws off your groove can be frustrating or disheartening because, let’s be honest, we all have things that we want to do. Looking at this from an athlete’s point of view is a little different than that of the general public.

Athletes have essentially three seasons all compressed into one, that being the pre-season, in-season, and off-season. In each of these seasons, an athlete has personal goals that they want to meet alongside the team goals. Some of the personal goals might be to hit a certain weight on a lift in the off-season, or to reach a certain statistic during the in-season. Reaching this personal goal is extremely self-rewarding and makes an athlete strive for more; but what happens when an athlete gets injured?

The Emotional Impact of Injury

Many things happen when an athlete gets injured, but the initial feeling will be some kind of negative emotion, such as disappointment, sadness, or for a more extreme case, depression. These are just a few examples that an athlete can experience on the initial realization of sustaining an injury. An athlete can feel these emotions because it is messing with the goals that they set prior to this injury, just like anyone who had something that didn’t go as planned.

Now that the injury has occurred, and most likely a negative emotion is setting in, there are steps that an athlete can take to help with the rehabilitation process. This process is something that I have some first-hand experience with because I suffered an injury that required me to have surgery and 2–3 months of rehab afterward. These steps are something that I found helpful to keep me on track and stay motivated toward my goals when I was healthy.

Set SMART Goals and Keep Talking to Your Team

I did have that initial negative emotion of disappointment and sadness, but that soon faded once I accepted it, and I had new priorities. I made goals for myself and put on hold my goals from when I was healthy. Having these new rehab goals gave me a new focus, and not on my current situation. The goals that I made were “SMART” goals. What SMART stands for is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. The “specific” part should answer Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. “Measurable” is to be able to track your progress and set benchmarks along the way. “Attainable” is having that belief in yourself and that this goal is possible. “Realistic” are the goals that you are willing and able to work at. “Timely” is setting a date for when you want to complete your goal. If you don’t set a date, there won’t be any urgency.

Along with using the SMART goal strategy, I also talked to people and teammates about how things were going. I feel it is essential to talk to someone; you can feel like you are doing this alone because you are on your own schedule and not participating with all of the team activities. An isolated feeling comes, and it can make you feel distant from everyone else. But talking to a teammate, the trainer, or a friend can make you feel like you are still a part of the team and contributing in some aspect.

Goal setting is extremely important for anything you do. It’s more important when it comes to fitness goals. If you don’t write out your goals where you can see them, you’ll forget what you are trying to accomplish. Along with that, the urgency will fade and you’ll start to rationalize with yourself that you can put off one day, and one day becomes one week, and so forth. Having goals will help with any setbacks that come along because if there is one day that doesn’t go as planned, knowing your goal finish line will still keep you on track.

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This blog was written by Addison Smith. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: depression goal setting attitude injuries post-season off-season athletes smart goals