By Alyssa McIntyre
Setting realistic fitness goals for women can be so hard. Especially when we see these daily media images of fit, tanned, amazing looking fitness models, like chiseled goddesses in some comic book scene. You know exactly what I'm talking about, right? Comparing ourselves to these people who've seemed to achieve the impossible effortlessly, comes almost naturally to us. Maybe your next thought is..."they can do it, and I can't," and of course this is beyond frustrating, irritating, and just does not feel good. Their seemingly effortless success sets a false sense of reality, and makes continued fitness frustrating and hard. Have you ever heard the quote "comparison is the thief of joy?" Well, that's dead on! There are so many elements that go into these amazing looking media images. Sport of choice & experience level, genetics & body type, nutrition & lifestyle, and don't forget editing, lighting, and makeup.
A lot of times these fitness models are attached to some type of advertisement for a diet or product. Of course they all claim it to be so easy to get where they are. I mean if they can do it in 6 seconds...so can I, right? Right? Don't get discouraged. They are not selling reality, they are selling hope, the magic pill, a fantasy. Someone that looks like they could shred veggies on their abs did it in way more than 6 seconds, 10 minutes, or 21 days. Is it possible to get amazing results and achieve seemingly impossible dreams? Yes, yes, and yes! But regardless, results take time, consistency, and patience. Big results take a lot of time, a lot of consistency, and a lot of patience. And sometimes big results and big goals can be very overwhelming. So where do you start?
Good goal setting can demystify the media fantasy and can keep women on the road to success in whatever fitness realm they desire. Here is how I like to approach goals:
7 WAYS TO OVERCOME MEDIA FANTASY AND SET FITNESS GOALS THAT WORK
1. Be realistic about your goals, and set yourself up for success.
Although we'd all like to be superheroes and leap over buildings with a single bound, that isn't realistic. If I pick that for my goal I'm setting myself up for failure. So picking goals that are realistic but at the same time still challenging enough to keep our interest and allow us to grow, is the key to success.
2. Set large goals first.
Set large goals first, otherwise you don't know where you are going, what you are working toward, and what your focus should be on. I think about large goals as being an event or something you want to achieve that is going to take you longer than a few weeks to complete. Maybe it's running marathon, doing 10 unassisted pull-ups, or competing in a competition. It needs to be something that you are excited about working towards for an extended amount of time so you don't lose steam. Then schedule it, put it on the calendar, post it on Facebook, scream it from the rooftops, or whatever else you need to do to make it official.
3. Make a timeline.
Do you need 6 weeks, 6 months, or a year or more to complete your goal? Make it long enough that you feel comfortable with your ability to follow through. But not too long where you might lose interest. The timeline piece is really personal and completely up to you to decide what works best with your goal and your lifestyle.
4. Set smaller goals to help you get to the finish line.
Ok, so you have your goal, you have your timeline, now you need ideas on how you can successfully achieve it. If you don't already have ideas on how to complete your goal, it might be helpful to talk to people that already have some experience in the area you are working towards. Talk to friends, family, trainers, or anyone else that might be able to assist you and point you in the right direction. Get online, post questions, do research, whatever it takes to get training and preparation tips that will help you be successful. Do the work..it's worth it. That way you are not lost in a big sea of good intentions.
5. Make a plan, write it down, and DO it
Do it, don't think about it, just do it. If someone handed you a treasure map and said "follow this map and you will have all the gold your heart desires," you wouldn't go in the opposite direction, would you? Think about your plan as a guided map to success. You now have all the key components, you just have to follow through. Put one foot in front of the other, get up, follow your path to success and reap the rewards of completing your goal!
6. EveryBODY is different.
Realizing that your results may not look like the picture you had in your head when you started, doesn't make them any less spectacular. So as you are working on your goals, realize that your success might look different than someone else's....and that is ok. It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing, it only matters if you are successfully completing your goals and feeling fabulous in the process. For example, my goal is to build more muscle. Erin Stern is my body image icon, if you will. Do I look like Erin Stern, um...no. Is it ok? Yes! I honestly know I will never look like Erin Stern because well, I am not Erin Stern. I am me. So I'm going to work on my goals the best way I know how, stay on track, and results will always be sweeter because I'm not comparing myself to someone else. Remember "comparison is the thief of joy," and as my favorite quote says "by comparing yourself to others, you limit yourself to being only as excellent as they may be, and in doing so prevent yourself from achieving a higher level of accomplishment than you ever knew possible. Let others be your guides, not goals."
7. Be proud of small successes and have gentle & positive self talk.
Celebrate the small things. Whatever it is, a PR, a faster running time, learning a new yoga pose.....celebrate it, be proud and smile. Breathe your success in. You did that! That is progress and what hard work is all about. The thing is, everyone has bad days, missed workouts, and failures, but by keeping your self talk positive and focusing on smaller successes it keeps your motivation high and drives you towards the finish line of your ultimate goal. Focus on the positive, let go of the negative, stand tall, and be proud.
Media images give a false sense of reality and can discourage us before we even start. Next time you are setting a goal to work on, keep in mind that reality is not typically talked about in the media, just the end product, the success, and the triumph. They don't show us the blood, sweat, tears, and bad angles. Good goal setting is the perfect way to feel personally connected and successful in your achievements, while avoiding comparison to the she-ra's of the world. So set your goals, dream big, get excited, become empowered, and achieve the impossible.
Alyssa McIntyre is the author and creator of momonthemove.net. She is a fitness blogger and weightlifter with a passion for inspiring possibilities in others. Her life was transformed through strength training and now she strives to teach other women the power of balancing life and weight lifting. Alyssa believes in living a fulfilled life through positivity and the ability to have it all. The articles on her blog focus on real life fitness topics, advice, nutrition tips, and exercise ideas.