Let’s start this week with a blast from the past: Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” I love this quote. It’s witty, but a tad sarcastic, as if Ben was saying, “Duh, people. C’mon now.”

For those trying to live the fit life, planning is essential. As a self-proclaimed Type A personality, this comes easy to me. From childhood, I was a list-maker extraordinaire. Organization was something I excelled at. Those attributes definitely play a role in my career today, but, funnily enough, was not something I had planned for or anticipated.

I love my Get Fit planner. It helps me stay organized with my hectic schedule.

My life is hectic, something that I know everyone living in the 21st century can sympathize with. I go from my full-time job to the Krav Maga gym I co-own, where I might have a class or a personal training session most days of the week. I feed my fur babies, do laundry, and load the dishwasher on my lunch break. Somehow I find time to meal prep a few times and week and drag my butt out of bed at 5 a.m for gym time. My life balance is not perfection, but I try. I wish daily I had more time to read.

I love my Get Fit planner, but I’ve always been a pen and paper kind of girl. The written word is a powerful thing to me, as if writing down my workout is like signing a contract in my own blood. It’s a conversation with myself: You did this today, and you can do this tomorrow. Seeing it in my own handwriting is extremely motivating! Most people these days are a little more attached to their tech. Call me old-fashioned.

Society is becoming increasingly global and each generation is more tethered to technology than the last. We’re rarely unplugged. I challenge anyone to lie that they’ve never taken a call from the toilet. With so little downtime, how do we plan? Also, where do we start to be most efficient?

SMART goals are the way to go! Let’s break it down.

S stands for specific. As Americans, we are all consumers. We know what we want and we want it now. The problem is, how do we get it? We solved the food problem: fast food, carryout, and delivery. We have drive-thrus everywhere. Even our pharmacies have them (because heaven forbid you walk inside to get your diabetic/cholesterol/blood pressure medication, right?). Despite the conveniences of modern life, fitness is lost in translation. “I want to get fit.” “I want to lose weight.” “I want to be healthy.” Yes, yes, and yes. But why is it important? Be specific. “My goal is to be healthy because I want to be around to see my children grow up and have children of their own.” Now, that’s a specific goal. We have established purpose!   

M stands for measurable. Yes, you want to get fit, be healthy, and lose weight for a reason, but it’s important from a goal-setting perspective to know what it takes to get there. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that everyone needs at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise for baseline fitness. That’s roughly 30 minutes a day five days a week. If you’re a desk jockey at work and a couch potato at home, be honest with yourself: How often are you willing to hit the gym or the outdoors? “I will exercise three times” is a lot more specific (there’s that word again) and meaningful than “I will exercise.” Now, we know how often we should block out for activity.

Goals must be time-bound to be effective.

A stands for attainable. Is your goal right for you? In other words, don’t swim the English Channel if you can’t swim! This is common sense, right? Once again, have a conversation with yourself: Is your goal something you are comfortable with and will enjoy? So, if you enjoy walking outdoors, but you won’t run unless you’re chased, it would make sense to set the goal “I will walk outdoors.” Or “I will run if I am chased by a dog.” Just kidding. Seriously, this is something many don’t consider before they dive into, well, anything. Planning ahead and maintaining a fit life often involves being creative and flexible. If you don’t take pleasure in what you’re doing, nothing will make you do it. I can’t stress this enough. So many people believe they fail because they’re not good at exercise or they’re not athletic, but this just isn’t the case. Our bodies are made for movement! It’s your mind you have to convince.

R stands for relevant. This part of your goal definitely ties back into the attainable part. Just as taking part in an activity you enjoy is important, making sure what you choose to do has to be relevant, reasonable, and realistic for your current lifestyle. Joining a trendy boutique fitness studio might seem, well, trendy, but if it costs $150 a month, and you work part-time at the mall, this studio might not be right for you right now. Thankfully, YouTube has tons of workout videos you could do at home for free. If you’re a parent, you might consider childcare. Do you have a sitter, or does your gym offer services while you workout? Unspoken gym etiquette says toddlers climbing gym equipment is not cute nor cool. If you’re an outdoor person, what do you do if Mother Nature pees on your parade? A relevant goal would be “ I will walk outdoors, but will complete a walking video at home in case of rain.” No rain check there.

T stands for time. Ah, time! There’s never enough, and sometimes too much, in the world of planning and goal-setting. Goals must be time-bound to be effective. Ineffective goals are open-ended: They leave way too much wiggle room for procrastination to sneak in. Procrastination gives Priority as push to make room and then the next thing you know, Priority’s out the door with his friend, the Fit Life.  So, just like you considered the measurability, attainability, and relevance of your goal, you should also consider how much time you need. If your dream is to run a 5k, but you’re a beginner, chances are the local 5k in two weeks is a no-go. The one scheduled three months out, however, is looking like a pretty good prospect. If your goal is to walk three times, how long do you need because of the various aspects of your crazy lifestyle? “I will walk three times in one week.”

SMART Goal

“My goal is to be healthy because I want to be around to see my children grow up and have children of their own. I will exercise three times in one week by walking outdoors. I will complete a walking video at home in case of rain.”

Be on the lookout for future articles on planning and preparation. I’m a stickler for it. Also, I have a goal of my own to run my first 10k, Race for Success powered by Junior Achievement of Angelina County,  in October 2017. I’ve run several 5ks, but never a 10k, so be ready for reports and updates on my own training leading up to the event.

Now that you know how to make a SMART goal, take charge of your dream of the Fit Life and plan to be successful!

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Brittany Hall is an American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Known as "Pixie" to her patients at Dr. Evans' The Institute of Family, Preventative and Lifestyle Medicine; she is also an ACE-certified Health Coach. Brittany is an American Karate First Degree Black Belt, co-owner of Lionheart Krav Maga and Fitness, and is a Bikini competitor. She is currently training as a Krav Maga instructor with a special interest in women’s self-defense. She completed the Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies Program through the American College of Preventative Medicine. She was also an attendee at the Active Lives: Transforming Our Patients and Ourselves conference presented by The Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School.