In order to begin a new exercise regime successfully, it is important to plan each step of the way. If you’ve ever created a business plan you will be familiar with the setting of SMART objectives. Well, they work in exercise life too.

S – Specific. Don’t be vague when setting the goals of your new regime; do you want to get fit, lose weight or train for a certain event? Whatever your aims are, make sure that you write them down.

M – Measurable. Your aims need to be measurable so that you can judge whether you have achieved them. For example, don’t just say that you want to lose weight, decide exactly how much weight you want to lose. This way you will be able to measure your success.

A – Achievable. If you set unrealistic goals, such as running a marathon in 3 weeks’ time, or losing 2 stone in a week, then you will not achieve your goals and you will lose motivation and consider your regime as a failure.

R – Realistic. As with the ‘Achievable’ point, the goals for your fitness regime must be realistic. Think about what you can realistically achieve in a set time and decide upon a goal that is both challenging and possible for you to reach. Longer term goals can be more realistic if we break them down into smaller “bite-size” pieces.

T –Time specific. In order to give yourself a finish line for each of your goals, you must set time scales for your objectives. Do not simply decide that you need to lose 6 kilos, but make a point of setting a date of when you need to lose 6 kilos by. This gives you a date to focus on and judge how you are progressing. As with the overall ambition, the timing has to be realistic too.

So a SMART objective will say something like this:

  • “I shall lose 10lb in weight by July 1st. This means I need to lose 2lb every week.”
  • “By the end of September, I will be able to run 6 miles, without stopping, in less than 40 minutes”
  • “At my sister’s wedding on August 15, I shall wear that size 10 dress”

The key is to be SMART. Setting objectives in this way will sharpen focus and make sure you don’t get discouraged.