Summer fitness and nutrition goals – keeping them

Healthy lifestyle goals can be reached by using fun and rewarding ways on the journey.

What does the word “goal” mean to you? For some people it might be a way to achieve something they want, while for others the word goal is a source of dread, because it implies something that has to be worked towards. In order for a goal to inspire us, it has to be something that we want and not something that is imposed. Michigan State University Extension says that a goal needs to be attainable, while enjoying the journey.

Think about fun, enjoyable ways to begin. Rather than exercise, plan to play, have fun and move. Rather than diet, plan to replace less healthy foods with smoothies, fruit or veggies with dip, low calorie beverages and other favorites. has many ideas for healthy eating, tracking what we eat and staying active in ways that we like.

Let’s suppose you want to get in shape for summer. What does that really mean to you? How do you define getting into shape? In order to achieve a goal you should be able to define specifically what it is. Instead of thinking in terms of getting into shape, you might be more specific by stating your goal as losing 10 pounds, or being able to ride your bike 10 miles. Being specific about your goal often defines what you need to do to get there. If you want to have the energy and stamina to ride your bike 10 miles, what will help you achieve this? Likely first steps include increasing your physical activity on most days. If you are used to taking a 20 minute walk on most days, you might set a goal of increasing your speed so that you cover more distance in the same amount of time. Or you might add another additional exercise to your routine that will help condition you to ride your bike.

Often the journey is more important than the destination. Even if we don’t accomplish the stated goal or reach the planned destination, chances are that the effort we put into the journey has its own rewards. Perhaps instead of losing 10 pounds, you reached the destination of feeling energized and lost five pounds. That’s something to celebrate – but not with ice-cream! Just feeling more energized will motivate you to continue being more active, burning excess fat and building muscle. Celebrate the small steps and your commitment! And thus, the cycle of more energy and muscle, and feeling good continues as long as you keep being active.

Consider an activity you will work on with someone else to help you get closer to a goal. Having another person who is also working on similar goals helps you stay on track. Plan to shake things up and do something different now and then. If you are working on a walking routine, do some gardening, yard work or play with the kids instead of a walk. Focus on the immediate benefit that you see or experience, which will help to boost your enthusiasm and motivation.

Goals can be like road maps. While the goal is the destination, small steps are the route we take to get there. Think of small steps as small changes to begin the journey. While then the progress may seem slow, but at some point you will see that you have accomplished something. We might have several goals or destinations in mind so consider focusing on just one. Decide which goal is the most important so you can focus your efforts on following the route to that destination. We might also consider our readiness to change. Are you ready to start today, or are you thinking of starting in the future? How soon will the future become today? To read more about setting goals, read an article about SMART goals.

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