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Set Your Sights on a Fitness Goal

Whether big or small, setting a fitness goal can keep you motivated.

One of my  goals was to do some hiking. While I’m always looking for good trails in and around Wayland, a few weekends ago I got out of Dodge and went to the Adirondacks where the hills are higher and the trails are tougher.

My friend and I had originally planned a long hike, but got off to a later start than we wanted, so we did Owl’s Head Lookout, which was about five miles round-trip. My friend really wanted to do one of the 46. I had no idea what she was talking about.

It turns out that there are 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks. When you’ve hiked them all, you sort of join a club. I think that’s a pretty good goal and if I lived in the area, I’d start making a list.

Alas, I live in Wayland — not the land of 46 peaks — so I have to come up with some other goals.

Why set new fitness goals at all? Goals help in a couple of ways: First, we get bored with our routines, and changing our goals helps keep exercise interesting. Second, if you do the same workout over and over, after a while you don’t improve. This is the overload principle, which is defined by the American Council on Exercise this way: “Overload, in exercise training programs, means that a training program causes the body to adapt only when the demands are greater than what the body is accustomed to doing.”

I have a friend who jogs the same four-mile route, four days a week. That’s great for maintaining her weight and keeping her heart healthy, but she’s not going to see any changes in her body or her stamina. She needs to shake things up, either with a new route, a faster pace or hill intervals. Even better, she could add a completely different type of exercise — a group class, strength exercises, yoga — into her fitness mix.

I’m guilty of getting stuck in a fitness rut, too, so I sometimes have to set new goals for myself. Right now my newest goal, as lame as it sounds, is to do a pull-up. Just one. Unassisted. All by myself. 

So what do you want to achieve? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

It doesn’t matter if the goal is big or small; what matters is that it keeps you interested and challenges you physically. So, tell me, what’s your new fitness goal?

Jeanne Brown September 12, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Susan, I agree with Debra that you don't have to go bankrupt to work with a trainer. A trainer can set up an initial plan for you and then you can check in with him/her to assess your progress on your schedule--once a week, once a month, once a quarter. Or, as Debra says, semi-private classes or small group training are becoming a lot more popular. If you have 3-4 friends to split the cost, you can still get more personalized attention then in larger group classes. The reason many people use a trainer is to stay motivated; however, if you're self-motivated, then you don't have to meet 3x a week with someone. Another reason people seek personal training is to meet a goal--either lose weight, train for an event, or something else. There are lots of options out there and I'd be happy to speak with you about them. You can click the email the author button above or send me a note at jeanne_brown@comcast.net.
Renee Bolivar September 12, 2011 at 11:00 PM
I set a goal this summer to do 10 pushups a day. When i started i could barely do 3. Im up to 20. My new goal was to start walking when the kids went back to school. I havent started yet. I dont know why but hiking 46 peaks is inspiring. Thank you Jeannie Brown
Amy Simmons September 13, 2011 at 10:37 AM
Thanks for the great link to hikes in MA, Jeannie!! I think hikes are one of the best ways to exercise as a family. And Fall is my favorite time of year to get out there and hike--can't wait to try some of these. Renee, give me a week to recover from 50 miles, and let's walk!!
Jeanne Brown September 13, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Amy, I know you recently achieved your own major fitness goal, so congratulations! And I think we'll need to combine our columns to get my littlest one to hike. The only way she will do it is if I feed her the whole way. She makes me buy trail mix with m&m's...and then throws out everything but the m&m's! Another good one to try--not sure if it's on the list--is Noanet Woodlands/Caryl Park in Dover http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/greater-boston/noanet-woodlands.html
Jeanne Brown September 13, 2011 at 07:57 PM
Renee, push-ups are one of my favorite exercises. They work the arms, chest, back, abs, and thighs. And when you finally learn to do them, you feel so empowered! I think the best way to get walking is to set a time with some friends and then you can't bag out. I go with my friend Jenny H. every Tues & Thurs at 5:45...come with! Another thing to help keep you on track is an app like runkeeper.com, which gives you your pace as you're walking or running. It keeps you honest and makes you go a little faster.

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