Get the Skinny on Realistic Fitness Planning

| Women's Health

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Okay, so you have decided that you need an overhaul of your current workout plan. Maybe you are not getting stronger, running faster, losing weight or feeling like it is a challenge. Whatever your reasons are, it is always good to shake things up and develop a new plan of attack. With that said, however, you also have to create a fitness plan that is realistic. If you set your goals too high with a very short timeline to hit them, you are setting yourself up for major disappointment.

Here are some suggestions that will help you create a realistic fitness plan:

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Set small goals first. Having big goals is great, but you need to conquer small ones along the way. Let’s say your plan is to be able to do a full set of 10 to 12 push-ups. Instead of reaching for that immediate goal, set a smaller one by first working up to a set of push-ups on both knees then moving on to doing a full set on one knee. Before you know it, that full set on your toes will be there. But, that is only possible through accomplishing the smaller goals first.

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Have a realistic timeline. You know the saying—Rome wasn’t built in a day? Well, that is true when it comes to your fitness plan. You cannot expect to make changes overnight. And depending on what your goals are, it can take you weeks or even months to reach them. When it comes to weight loss, for example, the more you have to lose, the longer it will take. Understand that big goals require a lot of time. Professional athletes spend months, even years, training for their sport, and they still continuously work to try and improve themselves.

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Make sure the plan itself is realistic. Yes, we would all love to have Gwen Stefani’s flat stomach, Jennifer Lopez’s well-rounded backside and Angela Bassett’s gorgeous arms, but sometimes we have to take a step back and realize that their bodies, their lives and their budgets are not ours. There is nothing wrong with having something that inspires you to work hard and keep at it. So, if hanging a picture of one of these ladies gets you to exercise every day, then go for it. But, do not build your entire fitness plan around looking like what you see in those magazines or on television.

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Create a checklist. Every plan, no matter what it is, should have some type of checklist that shows you what you will need to reach your goal. For example, if your plan is to run a 5K for the first time, do you have what you need to get there—access to a safe place to run whether it is outdoors or indoors, a good pair of running sneakers, a timer to see if your time is improving, good stretching techniques for before and after your run? All of the things on the checklist are designed to help you with your efforts so you are not wasting your time, but getting a good idea on how close you are to reaching your goals.

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Be patient. Even if you set a realistic timeline with realistic goals, do not lose your motivation if things do not go as you planned. Having a plan is no guarantee that everything will go smoothly and without a hitch. That is life. But having a plan is a starting point that can always be modified and changed when needed. Be patient and keep at it. Before you know it, you will be hitting those targets one after the other. It just may take a little more time than you had originally planned.

If it helps, have someone review your plan whose opinion you trust. Maybe they can add something important that you may be forgetting (or did not realize you needed). Maybe they will tell you that you are trying to do too much, and you can scale your plan back a bit. Be open-minded and willing to let someone else assist you. Remember, they want you to be able to accomplish your goals as much as you do. And once you start your plan, you will no doubt stick with it knowing that each day brings you closer to doing something outstanding!