Habits of Fit People: Set a Fun Fitness Goal

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.

Here's one that works for me: Shooting for a fun fitness goal. So why does something like this matter?

Sure, exercise itself can be fun, especially when you really enjoy doing something so much that it doesn't even seem like a workout (for me, that's tennis). But to keep at it day after day, week after week, year after year…you see where I'm going here. Over time, what was once fun can seem monotonous and your motivation to exercise can drop faster than a skydiving elephant!

All of this changes when you set a fun fitness goal. I'm not talking about "exercise 5 times a week" either. Set a goal that inspires you to train so that you can reach it. This way, your desire to reach your fun fitness goal will motivate you to keep exercising consistently. So what kind of fitness goal is fun and motivating enough to help you stick with a workout routine?

In the past year, I've been setting goals related to running: To run my first 5K, to run a 5K faster, and to run a 10K under 55 minutes. After setting these goals, I set a deadline (signing up for the race) and made my goal public by sharing it with others. Even on days when I didn't want to work out or my warm bed was calling my name on a dreary morning, I remembered my goal, my timeline, and all the people whom I told about it. Setting these goals even helped transform running—an activity I once considered boring and dreadful—into something that I really enjoyed doing. This is what helped me get out of bed and onto the road to reaching my goal. I just ran my first 10K on Thanksgiving Day, but now that I've accomplished my goal, I need something new to reach for or else before I fall back into a workout rut.

Are you looking for a fun fitness goal to pursue? Here are some ideas:

Running: Train to run a mile, a 5K, 10K or longer race. If you've done one or more of those, train to beat your previous time in one of those events. Sign up for a race that allows you ample time to train based on your fitness level, and commit to your training schedule so that you'll be ready by race day! With races all over the world throughout the year, you're sure to find one that suits your needs. Visit active.com to find races in your area.

Cycling: Many cycling events and races are also available in a variety of distances. Or you could set a goal like biking to work three days a week for three months, for example.

Flexibility: I can't tell you how many women have told me that they wish they could do the splits! Who knew! Why not set a goal and work toward it? Who says every goal has to be practical? What's wrong with aiming for a good party skill? Other flexibility goals could be to touch your toes or master a specific yoga pose that requires greater practice, strength and flexibility.

Strength: You could try the 100 Pushups Challenge, set a bench press goal, master the pull-up, or enter a power-lifting contest. All of these will help you work out consistently and develop more strength. These are great goals if you tend to slack on your strength training.

Start a Streak: One of the best kinds of fitness goals is a streak. Can you exercise every day for at least 10 minutes this month? How many weeks or months could you continue your streak? Once you get going, it's hard to stop—especially if you track your progress.

Skill Development: I've never learned how to properly swim and one of my goals is to take adult swimming lessons someday. Maybe you want to learn how to play tennis or golf. These fitness pursuits and fun and fulfilling, and when you take lessons, you'll be inspired to keep practicing (i.e. exercising) to improve your skills. You could even enter a tournament as motivation to stick with your new sport. I love playing tennis, and wanting to improve my game inspires me to run faster and further during the week to build my speed and endurance on the court.

Whatever goal you choose, set a deadline and share your goal with others. These two keys cannot be overlooked! A timeline creates a sense of urgency so that if you slack off you might not meet your deadline. Telling others keeps you accountable; you'll think twice about giving up so that you can save face!

There really is nothing like setting a goal, working toward it and then accomplishing it. It gives meaning to your workouts, which can keep you motivated. On Thanksgiving Day, not only did I run my first 10K, but I also beat my goal time. Had I been running without this goal in mind, my workouts would have been aimless. I would have found plenty of excuses to stop early or not run at all on some days. But all of my hard work came to fruition when I crossed that finish line. Every single step I took in the weeks prior got me there. I'd be lying said that I didn't feel a little emotional about the whole thing. Really, I felt proud of myself! And I felt proud of every person who entered that race, too, as if we were all in it together. We should all get to experience this sense of pride and accomplishment. I felt like I could do anything I set my mind to! And when it was over, I had to ask myself, "What's next?"

I am ready to tackle the next goal that will lead to an even fitter me! I'm thinking about new goals that will help me build strength now that I've been focusing so much on endurance this past year. One hundred pushups, real pull-ups, or as Coach Nancy keeps insisting, a half marathon? Time will tell!

What fitness goal will you reach next? Make it public and tell us below!