By Jen Morin
In the years I have been involved in personal training and now teaching personal trainers, one of the biggest topics discussed is behavior change. Whether your goal is weight loss, increasing muscle, bettering your overall health or training for an event, change must occur in order to accomplish the goal. The struggle most have is making consistent steps towards that goal.
As trainers, part of our job is helping individuals make those steps and stay consistent by holding them accountable to the goals that they’ve made. In this process there are a few key items;
- Your Goal – Make sure it’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Oriented. Basically you want to have a measureable goal (how much weight to lose, miles to run, etc.) to know when you have reached that goal and a timeline in which you wish to attain it. That goal must also be realistic and achievable based on your current weight, fitness level, etc. – otherwise you may be setting yourself up for failure right from the start. If you’re unsure of what an achievable or realistic goal may be, sit down with a personal trainer to talk over your game plan.
- Small Goals – Break down your main goal into smaller goals. This could include daily or weekly goals. For example; in order to better my nutrition and lose weight, I’m going to include 5 servings of vegetables each day. So that would be a daily goal that would ultimately help achieve a much larger goal such as weight loss.
- Accountability – It’s great to have small goals that will ultimately lead to your ultimate goal, but where most struggle, is just keeping the momentum going. Finding ways in which to hold yourself accountable and stay on track is what is needed to maintain those small goals. There are so many ways in which you can hold yourself accountable to achieve those goals; it’s up to you to find the best way. Ideas with accountability break down into two main areas:
- Tell someone – Share your goals with a friend, relative or even a personal trainer. This makes them very real (no more procrastination) and gives you someone to check-in with. A friend may become a workout partner or someone that will check-in with you to see your progress. A trainer will not only help you map out your goals but hold you accountable to them – that is their job!
- Write it down – Put your goals out where you will see them each day; your calendar, planner, on your mirror, so you’re constantly reminded of what you intend to do. If you plan it out and put it into your day’s plan, there’s a greater chance of it happening.
Along the way I have read many books on self-improvement and organization and come across other tips, from which I’ve taken bits and pieces that have personally helped me attain goals. One of my favorites is Brian Tracy’s Eat that Frog, where he explains great ways to avoid procrastination. To this day, I still write down my daily “to-dos” and put a star next to the tasks I would most likely avoid or put off, so that I get them done first. In my Personal Training class at MTTI, one of my students Star Brooks, explained to the group her method of getting “it” done, which she took from Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret “Don’t Break the Chain”. That was the first time I had heard about that method of checking off day for which you accomplish the goal for the day, so that you “Don’t Break the Chain”. This can be used for daily goals such as exercise, eating your veggies, or even trying to get the kids to do their chores (where I’m going to be using this method) – thank you Star! No matter what you choose to use, there’s many suggestions and methods out there for you to maintain your momentum and stay accountable to your goals.
Jen Morin MS, ACSM-RCEP – Swansea, MA
Is a Personal Fitness Training (PFT) Instructor at MTTI Education for Employment and a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist through ACSM. She created the PFT program curriculum which prepares students for the Functional Movement Screen and ACSM Personal Trainer Certification. She has 18 years’ experience in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, group exercise instructor and program director. www.mtti.edu