News and Tribune

October 4, 2012

BELCHER: Setting goals + tracking progress = fitness success


> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Getting started is half the battle. When we embark on a fitness-related journey, it's tough to take that first step toward an often distant goal. For example, if you've been battling weight loss, setting out to lose 15-20 pounds can often seem too far off, thus paralyzing us in our quest to better ourselves.

So how do we overcome the fear of tackling a seemingly insurmountable goal? Or how do we stick with a healthy routine? The answer is as easy as setting goals and tracking progress.

So are you ready for some homework? No? Come one, just try it. Grab a piece of paper or a notebook and get ready to set yourself on a path to a healthier, better you.

Your goals should be multifaceted

Too often we set ourselves on a singular path (weight loss is probably the most classic example). Understand that you're doing much more than improving your external appearance when you embark on a healthier journey. You're giving yourself more energy and more confidence. You're improving your sleep quality. You're improving your blood pressure and your cholesterol. You're achieving multiple things that you've never achieved before.


Write down at least five things you hope to achieve along the way to your overall goal. Maybe it's getting that first pull-up or maybe it's a deeper measure of health and fitness like eliminating blood pressure medication.


Set intermediate goals

You're not going to reach your end goal in a week. Understand that there are several milestones along the way. The key to reaching a long-term goal is knowing that continual progress is all we can ask for.

I recently had an athlete who was recovering from a severe leg injury. She had a very specific goal she wanted to reach by a specific date. She came up short of this goal, but has improved her performance by 100 percent in the past few months. She was discouraged, but after discussing the several intermediate goals she had achieved along the way she realized that her improvement and progress was quite phenomenal and thus has stayed motivated and hasn't wavered from working toward her goal.  


Understand that progress is progress. Revisit your goals once every week. List any intermediate goals or accomplishments that you've achieved. These can be goals that you had in mind, or things you may not have thought of at the beginning of your journey.


Track your progress

Use several numerical indicators, pictures and even some subjective measures to track your progress. The biggest paradigm to break is that the scale is the almighty indicator of success. At our gym, we track weight, body fat percentage, improvement on timed workouts, improvement on lifts, several other performance indicators and even guide interested members toward ideal blood work numbers. This gives us a holistic view of a member's progress and keeps a well-rounded focus toward intermediate milestones and multifaceted goals.

In addition to tracking the subjective measures mentioned above, track how you feel throughout the week. Are you more energetic? Has your general mood improved? Is your sleep quality improving?


List at least five numerical goals that you hope to achieve. These can be body weight numbers, body fat percentage, run times, lifting benchmarks or even blood work numbers.

For pictures, take front and profile headshots (we suggest headshots because early changes are often seen in the face and neck) and front and profile body shots once a week. For subjective measures the frequency is up to you. Some people do better with recording once per week, while others like to do it on a daily basis.

Having a realistic view of the fitness goals you hope to achieve, as well as understanding that you're making several improvements along the way, is key to sticking with a fitness program. Learn to be a good goal setter, track your progress and the motivation will follow.