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Setting Realistic Fitness and Wellness Goals

Setting Realistic Fitness and Wellness Goals

Setting Realistic Fitness and Wellness Goals

While there is never a bad time to improve your health and wellness through personal training, many of us start thinking about the lifestyle changes we want to make at the beginning of a new year. While we may be incredibly motivated on January 1 to set fitness goals, many of us will struggle to stick with exercise or weight loss goals by February.

So, how can you be successful if you want to make your fitness journey a priority this year? It starts with setting a realistic goal that meets you at your individual fitness level.

Where Are You Now?

Start your goal setting by assessing where you are right now with your health and fitness routine. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • What barriers have you faced in meeting your wellness goals in the past?
  • How often did you exercise in the last six months?
  • What type of exercise do you enjoy?
  • What type of exercise do you not enjoy?
  • Do you have any physical limitations that make exercise difficult?
  • What time of day do you like to exercise?
  • Who can support you in your wellness routine?

Answering these questions can help you identify challenges you face to stay consistent and reach your goals. Once you identify barriers, you can find solutions so you can make realistic changes in the new year.

[H2] Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Using the S.M.A.R.T. system is an easy way to determine if your goals are realistic. S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Using this method to help you set goals allows you to track successes and failures. Avoid the pitfall of a goal that won’t be very motivating and is not specific enough such as, “I will exercise more in the coming year.”

This goal doesn’t address important aspects of what you want to achieve. Will you be running, walking, lifting weights, swimming? How often? When will you fit it into your life? If you do not have the answers to these questions, it will be less likely you will make any sustainable, long-lasting change to your wellness routine.

Let’s walk through setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal for upcoming fitness goals.


Start by making your fitness goal as specific as possible. It should include what type of exercise you want to do, when you will do it, where you will do it, and for how long. A few examples of specific goals are:

  • I will do 30 minutes of weight training at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at my local gym.
  • I will walk for 60 minutes on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. around my neighborhood.
  • I will attend a spinning class at 5 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays at my local cycle gym.

Setting a very specific goal allows you to treat exercise like an appointment that you can’t miss. This helps you organize your schedule around your wellness routine, so you are more likely to be consistent.


A goal needs to be measurable to be tracked. Setting a goal of “exercising more” is not something you can measure, so you will be unsure if you are accomplishing what you set out to do.

Additionally, when your goals are measurable, keeping track of your accomplishments is a great way to stay motivated. Consider tracking how many times you accomplished your goal in a given week or month.

Once you hit a certain number of workouts, give yourself a reward. A new workout shirt, a new sticker for your water bottle, or something else you enjoy is a great way to keep yourself motivated.


Many of us make the mistake of being overly ambitious when it comes to health and wellness goals. We think it’s realistic to go from not exercising at all to working out seven days a week. While you can work up to exercising more often, it’s important to start with an attainable goal at the outset.

Start goal setting with an assessment of where you are today. If you don’t exercise at all, starting with two days a week of consistent exercise may be enough for now. Once that becomes a routine, you can always add more days or extend the amount of time you work out each session.

If you are not sure where to start and what is achievable for you, consider speaking with your healthcare provider or a fitness expert about the best types of exercise for you.


A relevant goal is one that is important to you and your personal goals. It also fits your current lifestyle, plays to your strengths, and your personal preferences.

A good way to figure out a relevant goal is to ask yourself why you want to make this change. When you have an emotional reason behind your goal, such as keeping up with your kids or managing a medical condition, this can help make it more relevant to your personal goals.

A goal should also align with your personal passions. For example, if you love dancing, attending a dance class twice a week may be a great way to set a fitness goal you will stick with. But if dancing isn’t your thing, a class won’t be quite as relevant to your lifestyle. Make sure whatever you choose is an activity you can see yourself sticking with for a long time. A healthy lifestyle requires consistent action.


When it comes to exercise, you should set goals for the amount of time — the number of days per week, minutes, etc. — you will work out each session, but also how long you plan to continue your specific routine.

For example, an effective time-bound goal would be to exercise 30 minutes, three times per week for six months. Once you accomplish that goal, you can reassess your plan and make changes as needed while enjoying the health benefits that you’ve achieved in the meantime.

Be Accountable

One of the best ways to establish any new routine is to find accountability buddies. Enlist a friend or family member into supporting your goals. You can also join a group workout program for a community of like-minded exercisers.

Your healthcare provider can also help you set realistic goals and stick with them. A provider can offer advice and guidance for the type of lifestyle changes that are safe for you. Find a provider today.