How to succeed at your fitness goals

Stephen Macconville Stephen Macconville Joint Pain Programme Director and Personal Trainer
Finding the motivation to exercise and change your lifestyle can be challenging. Discover how to reach your long-term fitness goals.

We all make excuses as to why we don’t want to exercise – we’re too tired or too busy and tell ourselves we’ll go tomorrow. If you find you’re starting do this every day, how can you find the motivation to get back into it and stick with your fitness goals?

Make targets small and reachable

Setting yourself realistic targets means you're more likely to succeed. There’s no point in trying to lose 100lbs in a month or trying to become a bodybuilder overnight. If you set unrealistic goals, you’ll become disheartened and likely give up altogether. Figure out what your personal goals are; do you want to lose body weight, become toned, build muscle, or improve your running distance? Speak to one of our Wellbeing Personal Trainers who can help you set realistic targets. 

It takes 21 days to form a habit, so making small exercise goals repeatable will encourage forming a new habit that you'll easily implement. The simpler your small goal is, such as going to the gym every Monday and Wednesday to start with, the more likely you are to form this habit and stick to it long term. 

Do exercise that you enjoy

In order to want to keep exercising you need to enjoy what you’re doing. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to exercise – everyone has different goals. If you don’t enjoy lifting weights or running on the treadmill, then don’t do it. There are so many options and approaches to fitness, so try out a few different styles of training, machines and classes until you find something that makes you want to get up and exercise.

Don’t do anything that isn’t sustainable long term. Going to the gym six days a week or starving yourself and living off only salad leaves isn’t sustainable, enjoyable or healthy. Find a routine that works for you, so that week on week you can keep it up and enjoy it too. 

Give yourself time to adjust

Like any lifestyle change, it can take some time to adjust. You might find you feel really motivated in the first couple of weeks, but your new routine is time-consuming and exhausting. If that’s the case you’re probably doing too much. Aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week, with two of those days being resistance or weight training. It has to be sustainable long-term. Eventually, making exercise a part of your routine will be as normal as having breakfast.

Make sure you’re eating enough of the right foods to keep your energy levels up, and if you’re not enjoying it, try another exercise or class that you do enjoy. It can take weeks to see physical changes, so keep going and remember that there will be changes on the inside happening too. 

Nutrition matters

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing hours of exercise, if you’re filling your body with the wrong foods you’ll likely gain body fat, have little energy and feel sluggish which won’t help your motivation. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet to fuel your body and mind, so you don’t feel like skipping that class at the last minute. Try to have a healthy breakfast every morning to fuel your body to keep going the rest of the day. Plan ahead so that you have healthy snacks on hand to curb those unhealthy cravings. 

Read more about nutrition tips to boost your energy.

Reward yourself

If you’ve hit one of your targets, make sure you reward yourself. Treat yourself to a meal out, some new shoes or anything that makes you happy.

Even losing 1lb of weight can have a big impact on your joints and your body – for every 1lb of extra body weight you carry, that’s 4lbs of extra weight on your knees and joints.

The longer you continue with your new routine, the more likely you are to keep it up long term, so every month you keep going should be celebrated. 

If you feel disheartened, speak to one of our Wellbeing Personal Trainers who can help you figure out a new routine, or set you some realistic goals.

Last updated Monday 24 December 2018