Why Fitness Goals Matter

Let me confess, I am a fast driver. I also talk fast and walk fast.   I’ve had people tell me it is because I’m from New York and all New Yorkers are in a rush to get somewhere. I’m thinking there may be some truth to that.  I often have to remind myself to slow down, since I almost knock people over on a daily basis thanks to my inadvertent “power walking”.

A fast-paced mentality is something most of us are used to with overbooked schedules and too much to do with too little energy and time to accomplish it all.  This may be why, as a society, we have developed the “Disease of Impatience.”  We want what we want and we want it NOW!  This is not only problematic for our stress levels, but also for our fitness goals and success.

Every year on January 2nd (or thereabouts), thousands upon thousands of people walk into a gym and sign up for a new membership.  They are eager to finally lose weight and stop procrastinating about it.  So they decide they are going to lose 40 pounds, work out 5 days a week, and include 30 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical, do a full weight training routine, get in some stretching and maybe a yoga class.  All gung-ho and ready to lose 10 pounds that week!  They have also cut out carbohydrates, decided they are going to live on salads and water and are ready to start their plan to a “new you”.

The problem comes when 6 weeks or three months later they are right back to their old habits again.  Not exercising, not eating healthy, and are stuck at the same weight they have been for 15 years. And will be next year and the year after, plus a few extra they’ll pick up along the way.

The problem is the “Disease of Impatience.”  The true value of exercising and eating well is in longevity.  Eating well for a week isn’t going to help you much if you eat poorly for 75 years.  It’s about developing healthy habits that last a lifetime so that you can really benefit from your workouts and your nutritious eating.  And that is something you miss out on when all you do is focus on the scale every day or set goals that are too high, too fast.

If you really want to succeed, the most important thing you can do is set goals.  Long-term and short-term.  Let your long-term goals drive your short-term goals and let your short-term goals motivate you! 

Suppose you need to lose 50 pounds.  Start out by setting your goal to lose 5 pounds.  Begin an easy exercise routine that you can fit into your schedule and will feel comfortable to you.  Start making healthier food choices setting weekly goals for yourself like eating more leafy greens or limiting take-out foods to once a week.  Then once you lose 5 pounds, reward yourself (with non-food rewards) and acknowledge that you met your first short-term goal.  Then set another goal to lose another 5 pounds.  Increase your exercise plan and continue making healthier choices in your diet.  Before long, you will see that you not only lost the 50 pounds, but also learned how to progressively incorporate exercise and healthy eating into your life.

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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