Features + #FridayFitClub

#FitClubFriday: Setting Goals to Get Started

Setting goals is a critical part of getting in shape.  When thinking about your goals, it’s important to be SMART.  Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

An amorphous goal like “getting in shape” isn’t helpful because it’s neither specific nor measurable.  Attainable goals are realistic.  Relevant goals are about what will motivate you going forward.  And setting a time limit is about keeping yourself accountable.  So let’s talk about my goals.

The first thing I did was set goals for my first two weeks.  I had two business trips on the books, and trying to set lofty goals with such an irregular schedule sounded like setting myself up for failure.

Goal 1: Delete the UberEats app, and unplug it from my credit card.

I am a sucker for convenience.  In D.C., I was a Postmates junkie.  In Spokane, it’s UberEats.  But unlike D.C., the vast majority of the food I can order in Spokane is unhealthy.  No Cava bowls, or Sweetgreen salads, here.  Oh no, I’m ordering McDonald’s and burritos and pad thai.  As a bonus, I’m also saving money.

Goal 2: Eat my largest meal of the day at lunchtime.

There’s research to suggest that eating your biggest meal at lunch reduces afternoon snacking.  And eating a smaller dinner can help you sleep better and give you more time in the evenings.  Some people also believe that it helps you lose weight because most people are more active after lunch than after dinner.  I usually have a smoothie for lunch and a real dinner, so I just reversed it.

Goal 3: Do something physical every day.

I’m terrible when it comes to staying disciplined about working out, so I started small.  I take my dogs on a long walk (1.25-1.55 miles) every day.  I do a leg and abs pilates circuit I learned in college that’s great for saddle bags.  And then, I turn my chores into a workout.

How?  I set a timer.  You have 35-minutes to clean the house, empty the dishwasher, and fold a week’s worth of laundry.  Rushing to get it done and running up and down the stairs gives me a little calorie burn.

These are my small goals until I get off this travel schedule and back onto something more manageable.

Goal 4: Cutting back on my liquid calories.

Drinking alcohol is a terrible source of silent calories.  Same for those sugary coffee drinks.  The trouble is that we don’t think about how many calories we’re drinking.

I replaced my Starbucks caramel latte with either a passion iced tea with no sweetener or a non-fat Earl Grey latte.  Then, I quit drinking on weeknights (not easy in politics) by switching to a seltzer with lime at fundraisers.  And I switched my weekend drinks from my usual multi-ingredient craft cocktails to simple vodka-sodas with lime.

Goal 5: Drink more water.

At some point, I got out of the habit of drinking enough water every day.  I used to guzzle huge wine glasses full of water every night while I studied, and then I just stopped.  So I bought these huge, durable red wine glasses to get started again.

So what is enough?  Tha Mayo Clinic has some thoughts on that but says 8 glasses is a memorable, healthy goal for most people.

I’ll set more lofty goals when I get back from my trip next week.  These felt like a good start.  Easing into it, if you will.  And developing these positive habits will help me achieve other goals going forward.

So what are your goals?  And how do you keep yourself accountable?

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  1. Sarah says:

    I got married a few months ago and the deadline of the wedding held me really accountable both for my exercise and watching my diet. I was really proud of myself that I still ate sweets, pasta, and wine, but became really good at saying no to things that I didn’t really want (but previously I would have eaten anyway). I love the way I looked and felt the day of the wedding.

    Now that I don’t have the pressure of the wedding, I admit that I’ve slacked in my exercise and eating well. I want to stay healthy for life, so I’ve recommitted in 4 key ways:

    1) Schedule exercise 5x a week on my calendar–this may seem like a lot for some people, but I find that there always ends up being at least 1 day a week where life gets in the way. So if I schedule to work out 5x, I’ll likely get in 4 days a week. If I were to schedule 3 days a week, knowing me, I’d only get in 1-2x.

    2) Don’t say yes to treats just because they are offered to you. Only accept if a) it’s homemade or 2) you would choose it off a menu. I’m hoping that this helps me say no to all the supermarket or mass-produced candy and baked goods that always end up in my office.

    3) I’m also saying no to drinking during the week (and I also work in politics). I’m a fan of seltzer and lime or seltzer and a splash of juice. At home, I’m going to ask myself if I want to risk a poor night’s sleep to have that glass of wine or beer.

    4) Get more sleep. I am working on going to bed earlier (so I can wake up earlier to hit the gym). I’ve been trying to skate by on going to sleep at 10:30-11, when I’m waking up at 5-5:30AM and it’s just not sustainable. I feel really rundown by the end of the week and so Saturday & Sunday I sleep A LOT, throwing off my whole rhythm and then I start off the week unable to fall asleep early…and the cycle repeats…

    Thanks for giving us a space to hold ourselves accountable!

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  2. Sof says:

    It’s not necessarily a goal, but the thing that makes working out attainable for me is only committing to gyms/classes that are convenient (location/timing-wise), otherwise I know that I won’t be motivated to do it. It’s so much easier to say “yes” to my weekly cardio class that starts right after work and right down the block! If I had to change my schedule or location it would be too easy to pass it up.

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  3. Clara says:

    I love soda with my whole heart (sorry hubby) so my rule is I can’t have one until I’ve finished my 20 ounce water bottle at work. It’s a two for one because it makes me drink more water and cuts my soda intake.

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  4. Stephanie says:

    I haven’t worked out in probably a year. Ever since my fiance and I started dating, I worked out less and less until I wasn’t working out at all.

    So, this week, I’ve started forcing myself to do 15 minutes of yoga every morning right after I wake up. It’s easy. It wakes me up. And, I’ve found I have been itching to get back to the gym as well.

    Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit busy, but I fit in another 15 minute body weight workout after my 15 minutes of yoga. So, I’m starting but it’s slow.

    I’m hoping to get back to Orange Theory Fitness once I started working out more.

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  5. Nicole says:

    What’s really helped me is being held accountable. Whether that is logging food/exercise in My Fitness Pal or seeing weekly weigh in results on Happy Scale (both free apps!), knowing it’s getting recorded stops me from over indulging and encourages me to get some extra steps in.

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  6. Hannah Deutsch says:

    Mind sharing the Pilates circuit? I’m looking to add more strength moves to my usual cardio.

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  7. Crystal says:

    I (very) recently signed up for Real Plans — it’s a relatively inexpensive and highly customizable meal plan app/website. You can select a preferred eating plan (for example, paleo or vegetarian), nix out foods you dislike or are allergic to, import recipes from anywhere on the web, substitute suggested weekly recipes, change portion sizes (so you can prep cook for the week), etc., and it shows the nutritional information for each meal. I had been in a food rut where I was not eating as healthy as possible, feeling stressed/bored about dinner, and was creating a lot of food waste. A friend recommended Real Plans to me and I’m hoping it gets me back on track.

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  8. Jamie says:

    To say juggling a full-time job with law school is challenging is an understatement. But now as a 3L I can say I’ve managed to stay in shape throughout school. I have to say, it take a lot of sacrifice. I don’t prioritize “looking cute” but instead rely on a lot of dry shampoo, wrinkle free clothes and living out of my car when I go to work, to the yoga studio, then to class. I guess what motivates me is looking at working out as something as integral as drinking water or eating lunch. You just have to do it to survive. The endorphins I get when I work out help even out the anxiety and depression that law school ultimately subjects you to. I guess my advice would be to look at it as a necessity to your well being. We invest so much in our outer self- hair, nails, clothes, cars, homes, etc. Why not put the same amount of investing on the inside?

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  9. Jamie says:

    One last thing, my mother always says: If you really want something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  10. Lexi says:

    I signed up for vegetarian meals through the Thistle meal delivery service for lunch & dinner four days a week. This was my first week. It’s helped me cut down on eating late at night because I’m full, but I’m still trying to figure out to make time to eat dinner during a long day.

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  11. Anna says:

    I just started a new job this week, so I’ve been walking SO MUCH MORE, which is great. I’ve committed to walking to and from the train station (it’s about a mile) at least three days a week, but that went down the drain this week when I had early meetings on two days. I still walked two days, but my goal is three, so hopefully I can stick with that when the weather gets colder and I get cranky about walking in the winter weather.

    The other thing is that I joined Weight Watchers last week, so I’ve been really trying to be mindful of my food intake. Bringing my lunch to work, and leaving my wallet in my locker, has been a really good way to eliminate the junk food from my diet.

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  12. Barbara says:

    Abra, I am borrowing all of your goals (except for #1 – Uber Eats – which I don’t have). I’ll replace that with eat the lunch I bring for lunch instead of for a mid-morning snack and buying lunch. Bad, bad habit. Thanks for this!

    October 20, 2017/Reply
  13. Joanne says:

    The small changes will add up! You should be proud of the work you’ve already put in (not so proud that you reward yourself with a cupcake :P) but as they say .. the hardest part is putting your shoes on! My fitness goals includes drinking more water, becoming more flexible and having better mental discipline. I haven’t taken a yoga class in years, but I am going to sign up for one tomorrow to help the the latter two goals!

    October 21, 2017/Reply
  14. J says:

    Definitely drink more water and go to bed earlier. On water, I bought a 40oz bottle at Costco and try to drink one every day. It’s not 8 glasses but it’s still more than what I was drinking. For sleep, I’ve been trying to get to bed 5 min earlier every night. If it doesn’t work one night, then I just try again and go to bed 5 min earlier the next night. Also not perfect but it seems like I am getting to bed earlier!

    October 22, 2017/Reply
  15. Debbie S. says:

    Weight Watchers was the way for me to go. I joined five years ago at the age of 50 and lost over thirty pounds. The accountability factor is important, I think, as well as making daily small choices to be more active and eat wisely. And welcome to Spokane!

    October 23, 2017/Reply
  16. Eleanor says:

    I realized that if I go straight home after work, I won’t leave. Now in addition to packing a healthy lunch the night before, I also pack my gym clothes to head to a zumba class after work. Preparation is key for me to stay on track with my newer paleo diet and fitness goals. No excuses allowed! I really like this community sharing attainable goals with each other.

    October 23, 2017/Reply
  17. amanda says:

    I have to say that I love this new feature! I just wrapped training for my first half marathon (ran on October 15th) and it was a struggle. Last time I was training for a race (Cherry Blossom 10 miler), I paired consistent training with good eats. How busy the last few months have been has led to a downslide in my eating.

    I am now bringing lunch everyday (instead of buying…I’ll miss you, delicious Ethiopian takeout) and am redoubling efforts to get back to the gym and hitting the pavement. Now with the cooler weather, I am feeling more motivated to get out there!

    Next week, I think I am going to focus on meal planning (and prepping) for dinner and set a schedule a couple of weeks out. I thrive when there is routine and accountability!

    October 24, 2017/Reply
  18. Chelsea says:

    I would also be interested in your circuit exercises.

    I started running home from work 1-2 days/week (~4 miles). I know this won’t work for everyone, but for me, it’s essentially the same amount of time as metro-ing home, so it does not seem like it is as much of a tradeoff between exercise and another fun activity. I bought a running backpack for essentials (wallet, keys) and usually leave my work clothes in the office to bring home the next day.

    October 27, 2017/Reply