The 3 Rules of Goal Setting

Posted on 03. Feb, 2009 by in My Fitness Updates

February 2nd marks the 4th week of my Turbulence Training transformation. This means that it is time to review my written goals and see how close (or far) I am to achieving them. This has gotten me into thinking about the time when I was just getting started in this fitness journey with the main goal of getting rid of the ever elusive belly fat. With that said, I didn’t have any clear goals in my head or in writing – I just wanted it gone- period.

But, If you’ve been reading other fitness blogs for awhile or if you’re a part of the Sparkpeople community, you’ve probably heard of the importance of goal setting (or writtten goals for that matter). After much resistance and laziness, I went ahead and wrote down my specific goals. To go even further, I wrote down the behavioral changes that I want/need to make in order to reach those specific goals.

Before I go into my review, just why is it so important to have written goals? In a nutshell, here is how I have benefited from it:

  • It gives me a sense of “goal reality” or in other words commitment. Basically, once my goals are written down, there is no turning back. I can’t say, “no, I didn’t say I was going to do that.” It makes me realize that I am accountable for my own actions.
  • It forces me to see where I am coming from. Because I have to know where I want to be, I need to know where I am at. An example of this would be in terms of body fat. For instance, if I started at 22% body fat then, I can say, I’d like to be at 17-18% within 12 weeks.
  • If I post my goals online such as here in my blog or in the TT Members Forum, other people hold me accountable as well so the probability that I’ll be compliant with my goals becomes high.
  • Just like today, it gives me a tool to assess my progress. It gives me an idea if I have been doing great or if I’ve been slacking.

I can go on and on about the benefits of goal writing but there is no better way to find out about them but to do it yourself. On that note, there are three rules or characteristics that I’d like my goals to have. They must:

  • Be Realistic – if you wanted to lose 7% body fat and you’re pretty lean already, you’d probably only lose .5% body fat per week. So, if you have a 12-week deadline, that only sums up to 6%. I made this mistake myself so this rule particularly got stuck in my head.
  • Have a deadline – a lot of fitness experts emphasize this special point. This is because short-term goals such as those that lasts 12 weeks add up so that you’ll end up accomplishing your long-term goals. Of course, this will depend on whether or not you were consistent in the short run. The shorter time period is also manageable than a deadline of a year since life can get in the way sometimes. This also creates a sense of “urgency” in a way that you’ll think that you don’t have much time to slack off.
  • Be separated into physical and behavioral goals – this will be more clear in my review below.

Ok, so now that all those things are out of the way. Let me show you how I’m going to review my goals. This is the first time I am doing this so please bear with me. Here we go!

Categories Starting Statistics 4th Week Statistics Difference
% Body Fat 18.65% 17.71% -0.95%
Waist (belly button) 31.25″ 30.25″ 1.75″
Right Thigh 20.25″ 20.25″ 0
Right Calf 13″ 13.25″ +.25″
Lean Body Mass 97.62 lbs 97.10 lbs -0.51 lbs
Fat Mass 22.38 lbs 20.90 lbs -1.49 lbs
Total Weight 120 lbs. 118 lbs -2 lbs

First, a little background on my starting statistics:

My husband measured my % body fat yesterday and while calculating the new stats, I decided I’d calculate my starting one again. It turns out that I suck at math and my beginning % bf is actually 18.65% instead of 22.41% – what a nice surprise! So, I now have 17.71% for the current one. That is a difference of .95% lost in 4 weeks. I guess it’s not too bad since I’m so close to my goal. But, I’m still not satisfied with my abs so I’m thinking that I can still lose bf and see how low I can go before I can see my ab muscles a bit more. My new stats would mean that I can go a little more conservative on the fat loss side of the equation so I can keep as much of my lean muscles.

Goal Review Time

Physical goals (goals that are tangible or I can see and touch):

  • Get to 17-18% body fat or lose 8 lbs. during the first 8 weeks – I’m pretty close to 17% so I might go for 15-16% depending on how I look at that percentage.
  • Gain lean body mass for the last 4 weeks – I just might to try to add a bit more muscle while still aiming for fat loss. Again, this will depend on how I look at the end of the first 8 weeks.

Behavioral goals

  • Eat 5 planned meals a day at an average of 1450-1500 calories a day – pretty much on target
  • Perform 5 chin-ups and 3 pull-ups. – I can now perform 2 chin-ups while jumping off from the floor (not from the fully extended position) and 2 eccentric pull ups (lowering part only for 8 seconds)
  • Perform my KB swings circuit, Total Body Ten, or other Bodyweight cardio and an abdominal circuit on my light days. I also plan to work on chin-ups and pull ups during these days. – haven’t missed a day yet!
  • Allow myself only one “off” meal a week. – this is more like 3 moderate treats rather than one big “off” meal so I’m still doing good.
  • Increase weights even by a small amount on some (not all) exercises during every workout. If I can’t increase the weights, I will increase the reps. – Yes!
  • Eat less refined carbs (e.g. sugars, white flour, white rice etc.) and try new whole grains such as quinoa, spelt, couscous, etc. – so far, I have tried spelt and wild rice. I have quinoa but just haven’t gotten around to cooking it.
  • No cereals except for an All-bran cereal. – I suck at this one…lol. I switched to a Flax multigrain cereal but I don’t eat it as often as I used to so, I’m getting better.
  • Try at least (I’ve been trying a lot lately) one healthy recipe every week using natural ingredients. – Yes, yes, yes! I love this part. I have tried so many recipes that I’m getting so much variety and experiencing so many different, new flavors like never before. who says that eating healthy is boring?!

Previous workout (past 4 weeks):

TT Fat Loss Fusion Intermediate

Current workout (next 4 weeks):

TT Buff Dudes, Hot Chicks Workout Program

I also forgot to mention that on Saturday, my husband challenge me to do some push ups and I ended up doing 30 reps all at once. This is actually the first time I ever tried to do as many push ups as I can so I don’t have a base number to see if I progressed. But, I do remember not being able to do 10 reps consecutively.

Now, that I have reviewed my goals, I actually have a clearer idea of where I am and how much work I still need to do to achieve them. If you haven’t started writing your goals yet, this is the time to do so. You will be amazed at how powerful of a tool this simple act can be. If you have any questions or just any comment at all, don’t hesitate to contact me. Until then…good luck!

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  • This is an excellent post, Anna.

    Writing down your goals is a proven way of helping you to fulfill them.

    Stumbled! 🙂

  • Great article, and well done on your progress so far.

    You’re goals are excellent and very realistic, which means it’ll be easier to stick with. I’ve recently written an ebook on changing your lifestyle, and I focus quite a bit on goal setting too.

    Keep up the good work! 🙂

  • admin

    Hi Melanie, thanks for stopping by. You have great blog yourself! I will keep an eye on it for future reference. Keep up the good work!

  • Anna, I don’t even know where to start…excellent post that could have easily been 3 posts!

    Your behavioral goals are a carbon copy of my own (even though I’ve yet to write them down). Each point is spot on…a recipe for success.

    You made the point, “Be realistic”. I’d also add, “don’t under-estimate yourself”. Seems impossible to be realistic and not under-estimate, but it can be done.

    Excellent work on your BF%! Sub 18%…awesome work.

  • admin

    Hi Mike, that is a very good point. I am finding that I may have under-estimated myself at the beginning of this challenge. Actually, when I say 17.7% I thought I was seeing things…lol.

    Thanks for dropping by.