7 Ways for Moms to Set & Keep Realistic Fitness Goals

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So you’ve decided (again) that this is the year you’re going to do it—get—and stay—fit, toned, and healthy. It’s a goal you should keep. So how come, year after year, you keep giving up? Maybe because you don’t set realistic goals for yourself. Instead of setting the bar too high, aim for these seven realistic fitness goals, and make this your year!

Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series of  empowerment and inspiration pieces brought to you by Colgate

As the ancient Greek philosophers used to say, Know thyself. And there’s a lot to be said for understanding yourself—your ambitions as well as your limitations—when it comes to setting goals of any kind. “If goals are inappropriate, success is difficult and it is unlikely you will see the results you want,” explains Mary Walters, M.Ed., a personal trainer based in Brooklyn, NY. “This leads to discouragement and ultimately abandonment of efforts.” Give your fitness goals some serious thought and create a vision for yourself of what you want to accomplish. “If you can clarify your wellness vision—the picture of health and happiness you want to be—you can create a viable plan composed of small steps, or goals.”

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Telling yourself I want to be fit or I want to lose weight is fine, but breaking down your ambition into manageable mini-goals will help you achieve your vision. “Picture the you that you want to be and write it down in detail. The finished product should excite you,” says Walters. “Then break down your vision into goals; I have my clients use 3-month goals and weekly goals. When you write your goals, use affirmative language and write according to the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines: Specific. Measurable. Action-based. Realistic. Time-lined. Once you have your plan outlined, place it where you can see it on a daily basis.” Starting with a positive attitude is a must; tell yourself you can make your vision a reality, and get pumped about it!

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Although it might seem like a no-brainer, you might think that because you’re exercising regularly (or planning on it), eating whatever you want is your prerogative. Conversely, you may think that entering into a committed exercise regimen means the end of enjoying a splurge now and then. Neither approach is the right tactic. Stick to healthy eating strategies, and allow yourself a treat now and then. “Portion control and mindful eating strategies are effective tools for just about everyone when it comes to a healthy diet,” says Walters. But, she says, “allow for a reasonable amount of planned splurges—let yourself have your favorite piece of chocolate on occasion, without the guilt!”

Read Related: How a Busy Mom Sneaks in Exercise

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If you’re feeling that you can’t fit in any type of fitness routine because your life is already too busy— walking the dogs, going food shopping, taking the baby out for some fresh air—then look no farther than your busy lifestyle for inspiration. Check out a program like Stroller Strides, which offers classes and events in a variety of locations and allows moms to exercise with their children in tow. Going shopping or taking the dogs out after dinner? Make it time to squeeze in some brisk walking for yourself. “The great thing about walking is that you can usually achieve two tasks at once,” says Walters. “A bonus: walking can be meditative. It’s good for soul, mind, and body.”

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So you feel like you know yourself and your goals—but you don’t know much about how to achieve them? Getting together with a trainer is not only a great way to learn about how to stay fit, but having scheduled meetings—not to mention your own personal cheerleader—can help you stick to your new regimen. “Feedback from a personal trainer is valuable not just for motivation but also to learn proper mechanics and correct form, to ensure your safety and maximize the efficiency of your workouts,” says Walters. Not sure how to find one? Ask around for recommendations or check in at the local gym or YMCA.

Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series of  empowerment and inspiration pieces brought to you by Colgate

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Common sense dictates that you not throw yourself into an exercise routine pell-mell. But your enthusiasm (which is a valuable asset when looking to achieve any goal) may lead to feeling discouraged if you don’t measure your approach. “Beginning an exercise routine is like learning to swim—you don’t start out by diving head first into the deep end, else you risk emotional or physical trauma,” warns Walters. “An exercise regimen should be established gradually to avoid injury and burnout.”

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So you have the number of a personal trainer; you have your vision of who you want to be; you’re ready to start exercising your way to being your best self. Now all you need to do is to commit to achieving your goal—and understanding that the road to success has a lot of speed bumps along the way. Missed a workout? Spent some extra-special time with a super-deluxe ice cream sundae? That’s not an excuse to give up altogether. “I see this all of the time with clients who focus on their failures versus their achievements,” says Walters. “[They say] ‘Well, I missed 5 of my 10 workouts already this month, I may as well just give up now because I’ll never get in all 10.’” Abandon what Walters calls an “all or nothing attitude” and just keep re-establishing your vision and your commitment to attaining it. “Our setbacks teach us what works and what doesn’t so we can take a more effective approach the next time,” explains Walters. “When we fall or suffer a setback and start right back up again, it can be incredibly satisfying.”

Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series of  empowerment and inspiration pieces brought to you by Colgate