Katie Bulmer-Cooke: Make your fitness goals measurable and achievable

Fitness expert Katie Bulmer-Cooke.
Fitness expert Katie Bulmer-Cooke.

The sun is shining, the clocks have changed and, dare I say, it’s starting to feel like summer is on its way.

At this time of year many people start to think about upcoming holidays, either at home or abroad, which spurs a lot of people on to get fit, shed a few pounds and make more of an effort when it comes to diet and exercise.

This time of year is almost like the same wave of enthusiasm we see at the turn of the year when everyone is buzzing about their new year’s resolution, but just like January, if you don’t get it right you can quickly become disheartened and unmotivated.

So with that in mind, in this week’s edition of my column I thought I’d put my personal trainer hat on and share my biggest tip for improving your fitness and health and that is goal setting.

I’ve recently lost two stone since having my second baby just before Christmas.

It hasn’t been easy and I still have a little way to go, but taking the time to set my goals properly has made a real difference, and has seen me see results consistently.

I’m sure many people have heard the expression, that a goal needs to be SMART, but what does that really mean?

Let’s use the common goal. “I want to get fitter”.

This seems like a reasonable goal, but it’s kind of vague and is hard to quantify.

Start by making your goal specific and measurable: “I want to be fitter by being able to run 3km without stopping.”

This is now not a goal but an aim. It’s something specific and you will know if you’ve achieved it, and it’s measurable so you are able to see progress.

If you aren’t progressing at all or fast enough, you know that things need to change.

Without specific and measurable goals you can’t form or make any sort of plan because you don’t really know what you are aiming for.

Next it needs to be achievable and realistic, so it’s time to look at your lifestyle, your family and friends commitments, how much time you have, what you know about diet and exercise, and lots of other factors that will or will not help you to reach your goal.

Taking the getting fitter example, if you don’t know how to get fitter, then it will be much harder to achieve.

If you know how to get there, but it’s not realistic because you know it’s not sustainable, this also makes it unrealistic.

You should set goals according to the life you live, not the life someone else does.

Finally, we need to set an end date and give yourself a time limit.

If we leave your goal without a deadline there’s a big chance that you’ll keep putting it off.

On the other side to that, setting a goal with too short a time frame might not give you enough of a chance to achieve it.

I’ve always found this really helpful, whether I’m setting goals for fitness or work, so here’s hoping it helps you too.