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Saturday, June 25, 2011

SMART Goal Setting

Setting goals gives training direction to increase the chances of success.  The SMART method of goal setting ensures that the goal is clearly defined and designed to make the goal-setter feel accountable.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timeline:

S = Specific: Goals must be explained within specific parameters.  Try to avoid vague descriptions like "I want to lose weight." Instead, describe how much weight you want to lose through a number or unit and most importantly, what methods you will use to reach your goal.  A specific goal will sound more like this- "I want to decrease my waist circumference by two inches in two months through aerobic/ strength training (1hr per session and 4-5 days perweek) and a healthy balanced diet through nutritional tracking with MyPyramid.gov."

M = Measurable: If progress can't be measured, it's nearly impossible to know how close you are to achieving the goal.  Take the guesswork out and schedule a day every week to measure progress through methods such as body circumference and skinfold measurements.  If you want to monitor a loss of two inches from the waist, mini goals must be set on a weekly basis. For example: "Every week, I will measure my waist circumference with a goal of -1 cm per week."

A = Attainable: Don't set a goal that's beyond your reach. Start with a goal that's fairly easy and then raise the bar little by little. If you lost a quarter inch in a little over a month, try to lose a full inch next time!

R = Realistic: Sometimes sacrifices must be made to reach a goal.  Although watching TV and playing video games are good things to give up, sleep should not be one of them.  A common healthy amount of sleep is about 7.5 hours +- 30 min.  There is exactly 168 hours in one week and if sleep is factored in, only 115.5 hours remains to take care of other priorities such as eating, working and making time to train.  Keep this in mind when trying to create realistic goals.

T = Timeline: Without a deadline, progress may occur so slowly that it feels like you're going nowhere. By setting a deadline, you will feel the right amount of pressure to stay motivated towards reaching your goal on time. Set an alarm on a phone of write it in a calendar/ planner as a reminder. "By the end of the month, I should be halfway there! I only have three weeks left!"

An exercise program is pointless if goals aren't set to ensure progress through deadlines.  Follow these guidelines and you will be one giant step closer towards success!