Are your goals SMART? Easy steps to plan for success.

Do you have goals? Chances are, yes!  Goal setting is an excellent motivational tool, but how we set them can make or break our success in reaching them.  Vague statements like, “I will lose fat” or “I want to compete” may get us started, but it’s important to have firm goals with long-term and short-term objectives to keep us going.  Otherwise we may end up losing motivation, derailing from our plan, and ultimately winding up exactly where we began.

To get on the fast track to success, our goals must be SMART.  That is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.SMART goals


Goals need to be defined and clear-cut.  It’s common to set general goals such as “I will lose weight” or “I will get more sleep.”  Yet, such goals are so loose that they’re nearly impossible to gauge whether we’ve reached them or not.  More specific goals would be, “I will lose five pounds by the end of this month” or “I will aim to get 8 hours of sleep each night.”

When drawing specific goals, consider the five “W” questions:

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons for wanting to accomplish this goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Consider where you’ll be working toward this goal.
  • Which: Identify requirements needed to meet the goal.


Measurements  provide feedback and let us know when a goal is complete.  When we’re able to measure progress, we tend to stay on track, reach targets, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that further motivates us to continue working toward success.

  • How much/many?
  • How will I know when this goal is accomplished?


Goals need to be practical.  The majority of us have probably tried to shed a few pounds at one time or another, and our success largely depends on whether we set a reasonable goal in the first place.  Losing 20 pounds a week is unrealistic (we can thank diet pills for that mindset).  Losing 2-4 pounds a week is more reasonable.  Goals need to be ambitious, but setting them too far out of reach only sets us up for failure.


It’s important honestly evaluate ourselves when setting goals.  There’s no wrong goal, but a particular one may not be right for us at a certain time.  Try answering questions like:

  • Do I have the ability to reach this goal? How about the resources, time, or commitment?
  • Is it worthwhile?
  • What are my limitations and how can I overcome them?
  • Is this goal personal?

Be honest.  Setting unrealistic goals will only lead to frustration.


Time frames provide structure.  Rather than making the goal of someday competing in a bodybuilding competition, pick a date and go for it!  Having an exact date in mind causes us to take action.

Applying SMART Goals

The SMART method isn’t limited to fitness goals. Rather, it can (and should) be used for any ambition. Once we’ve established what we want, we can create goals beginning with long-term objectives followed by short-term goals.  Long-term goals are things we want to accomplish within the year while short-term goals are these are daily, weekly, or monthly targets that keep us on track toward the long-term goal, much like stepping stones or rungs of a ladder.  Remember to be reasonable with short-term targets, but don’t be afraid to aim high when thinking long-term.  We expand our abilities to reach our ultimate goal with each short-term goal met, so shoot for the stars!

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra

 By Mary Dietz

Tis’ The Season To Get In Shape.

Tis’ the season to get in shape.


If you have a friend of family member who loves to stay fit. How about purchasing one of these fit gifts to bring in the New Year.DSC00279


Jump Rope- Stay indoors or take it to the great outdoors. It’s portable cardio. On average jumping rope can burn about 11 calories per minute.


Blender- It’s easy to be in a hurry and skip a meal.  Blending allows you to whip up a healthy and fast snack. Look for single serve blenders so you can blend and go.


Portable cooler- Give your hungry friend a lunch box that allows them to manage their nutrition and eat clean through the day. You can purchase coolers that allow multiple meals making it impossible to miss a meal.


Fitness Journal- Stay accountable and consistent by tracking your past, present and future fitness goals and accomplishments. Online applications are great for the person on the go.


Fitness Magazine subscription- Keep up to date with the latest training and diet trends. Give a gift that will last for months and also remind them of you with each new magazine.


Personal Training- Perfect for the beginner or advanced gym member. It can be intimidating to walk through the gym doors for the first time, keep them inspired and accountable with a training session or package. Your more advanced gym member might want to spice up their program or need a little extra push.


Massage- Most people enjoy a massage but let’s face it in today’s world one might consider a massage as a “luxury” not a necessity.  Give your loved one some much needed R & R. They have earned it.


I will wrap this up by saying that it is the thought that matters most. You may consider giving your loved one a lending hand, perhaps a break from the kids or daily chores to allow them a few minutes to exercise.

Happy Holdays!


Cool finds-

Six Pack fitness– Pack all your daily essentials in one bag- Nutrition – Gym Gear – Electronics

Ninja- Rule The Kitchen-

LifelineUSA -Power Jump Rope-

Massage Envy-



Is it possible to spot reduce? (part 2)


It’s not the amount of time we spend in the gym but rather the quality of the program. Often times we feel like more is better. In reality we could be utilizing our time more efficiently and reaching our goals faster with less gym time. I witness many gym goers “going through the motions”.  They come in day after day, hop on their cardio equipment and work at the same intensity. Some of these people come to me for advice and wonder why they haven’t seen any progress. If weight loss is the goal, cardio should not be your only focus. We need to focus on building lean muscle tissue through weight training. This will help shape our body and give us the definition we desire.  The more muscle we have the more calories we burn.

Having a program with proper intensity will not only save time but will keep your heart rate elevated and get the results you are after.  You don’t need to spend endless hours doing weights. The trick is to get an effective workout in utilizing less time.  You can see amazing results in 45-60 minutes of weight training
3 times per week. I typically recommend lifting “heavy” and keeping rest time at minimum; 30-60 seconds between sets depending on the program and conditioning of the individual.  As your overall condition improves you will recover faster and be able to take less rest between sets or circuits.
There are many types of programs and training methods a person could follow to add high intensity. As you get more experienced you can play around with intensity and mix things up. I recommend changing your program every 4-6 weeks to keep things fresh and your body from hitting a plateau.
One of my favorite high intensity training methods is supersets.  A type of training where you alternate back and forth between two moves until your desired amount of reps and sets are complete.  There are many ways to incorporate supersets into your workouts.  You can train same muscle groups, opposing muscle groups or add a cardio move to a strength move. It all depends on your training goals. The basic idea is to do two moves back to back without rest.
Same Muscle Groups: (biceps)
  • Bicep Curl
  • Hammer Curl
Opposing Muscle Groups: (biceps/triceps)
  • Bicep Curl
  • Triceps Press Down
Strength Move followed by Cardio:
  • Squats,
  • 30 Seconds Cardio (jump rope, mountain climber, jump squats)
Below is an example of a full body workout utilizing supersets to save time and increase training intensity. Make sure you are familiar with the exercises and form prior to starting this or any other exercise program. If you are fairly new to fitness, you may want to start with 1-2 sets of each super set. I recommend 3 sets of 10-12 reps each with a weight that is challenging and you can still complete using proper form. Rest is 30-60 seconds between sets. Finish all sets in the super set prior to moving onto your next set of exercises.


  • Squats
  • Pull-Ups (assisted pull ups or could do a pull-down if you can’t lift yourself up)
  • Step-Ups
  • Military Press
  • Deadlifts
  • Push-Ups
  • Narrow Stance Squat
  • Biceps Curl
  • Plie Squat
  • Triceps Dip
If you train at the proper intensity this is going to keep your heart rate elevated and you’re going to feel like it was a cardio workout as well. We don’t need to live in the gym. Utilize your time wisely and step into the gym with a plan. Get focused about making some gains, save the chit-chatting for after your workout. If you want results, don’t be the person just going through the motions.

Do You HIIT???

            I’ve been asked many times how I can look the way I do without being a slave to the cardio deck at the gym.  Most people dread cardio, and I am no exception.  The mere mention of cardio has been known to elicit groans because people associate it with an hour (sometimes more) on a treadmill or some other cardio machine.  Well there’s a new sheriff in cardio town that researchers say works better for fat loss, in… (get this) LESS TIME.  It’s called HIIT (high intensity interval training).

            What is HIIT you ask?  HIIT involves alternating between intense bursts (pushing yourself 75% to 95% of your maximum exertion in a certain activity) for a short interval followed by active recovery.  For example, if you’re doing a HIIT running workout  it would look something like this; after a quick warm-up, sprint for 30 seconds, followed by walking or jogging for 1 minute, then repeat this cycle for 20-25 minutes. 

            Why is HIIT more effective for fat loss?  When you do cardio at the same pace for an entire session your body goes into a steady state and begins to adjust itself.  Your body then attempts to conserve energy (calories).  With HIIT your body is continually changing exertion levels, which keeps your body from entering that steady state.  HIIT also causes the “after burn effect” also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).  Basically, HIIT increases your RMR (resting metabolic rate) after exercise.  In other words, when you finish a HIIT workout your body keeps going like a fat burning energizer bunny!  Studies have actually shown that HIIT increases RMR for 24 hours following exercise.  Other studies have shown that long endurance activities can lead to muscle loss (catabolism) which can last up to 7 days after endurance activities.  Catabolism happens when the body eats through its glycogen and fat stores, and is forced to use muscle as fuel.  Compare the physiques of a marathon runner and a sprinter and you will see what I mean.

            Try implementing 1 or 2 HIIT sessions a week to your workout routine.  Also, try taking your HIIT outdoors.  Once a week I take my HIIT outdoors to a steep 100 yard hill.  I sprint up the hill, and jog down it.  I do this 10 times, and it usually takes me about 20 minutes.  Happy HIIT!!!

By Melissa Norgart

Is it Possible to spot reduce? (part 1)

Did  you ever ask the question “What can I do to get rid of this belly fat?” or “How can I lose the fat on my thighs?” As a trainer I hear this question often.  You can target a muscle through specific exercises, however, you can’t spot reduce. In other words, no matter how many sit ups you do you will never see your muscles if you have an extra layer of fat hiding them. We have no control of where we lose body fat. In order to lose fat over any specific body part, one must follow a proper nutrition plan and have an adequate fitness plan in place.

There are no short cuts to being healthy and fit. Working out is only a small portion of your results. A big portion of your success will happen in the kitchen. Here are some guidelines to help you eat for life.

What is a portion?

Most of us are not sure what a portion is. We either over estimate or underestimate our servings. More than likely we are over indulging, which is why some of us can’t seem to lose weight. Although our food guidelines may vary depending on our personal fitness goals, in general I recommend eating a palm size portion of a protein, carbohydrate and a fibrous food at each main meal. (breakfast, lunch, dinner).


What’s on your plate?

It’s time to plan your meals. Here are a couple examples of how you could pair up your meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  The rules are simple. Palm size portion of a protein, carbohydrate and Fiber for your 3 main meals.

breakfast Breakfast Ideas:

  • Eggs, fruit, oatmeal (stay away from pre-packaged oatmeal that is full of sugar).
  • Greek Yogurt, fruit, whole grain bread.
shake Snack Ideas: (No carbs at snack time)

  • Protein Shakes. Be cautious of what you put into your shake or you will end up with a high calorie drink.  Example: Protein, water, ice, frozen fruit.
  • Natural Peanut butter and celery.
 lunch Lunch Ideas:

  • Chicken salad, baked potato. Keep in mind that just because it is a salad, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Keep it clean; chicken and fresh vegetables. Use dressing sparingly.
  • Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, apple.
dinner Dinner Ideas:

  • Fish, asparagus, rice.
  • Chicken, broccoli, sweet potato.
Notes: No carbs at snack time or after 6:00 PM.


In a nutshell, you can’t spot reduce. You can help eliminate body fat through proper nutrition and exercise. Plan your meals. Drink plenty of water and get some exercise in your day.


Stay tuned for part two of can you spot reduce? Having a proper fitness plan can set you up for success.



Can Meal Planning Help You Reach Your Goals?

Hello Everyone! I am very excited to be writing my first article for HardCore Physique! I love having the opportunity to share with you my fitness lifestyle and the knowledge and information I’ve gained through my experience. I am learning and progressing everyday, and hope I can help and inspire others on their own journey! Nutrition is a very important component to overall health and fitness and I’d like to share my view on the importance of meal planning and preparation.

When I first began learning about the fitness lifestyle and the world of competing, I remember reading about how many of the fitness names I admired pre-made their food. This concept was completely foreign to me…I had never even though about making food days ahead of time or even freezing it for use weeks later, and I’ll admit, I was turned off to the idea. I was weight training and doing cardio consistently, but seeing menial changes in my body. No surprise…I was eating whatever and whenever, and it was not until I gave meal planning a shot that I began seeing the progress I wanted.

So now, every Sunday my husband and I spend the morning preparing our meals for the week. It takes about three hours for us to get everything cooked and packaged, which is not too bad considering we make about 50-60 meals. Everything gets weighed or measured and placed into Ziploc baggies and put in the freezer. I pull out a day’s worth of my frozen food the night before I need it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. I have found this method to be simple and easy, and I don’t have to worry about making food 5 times per day!

Because I prefer basic, staple foods, the meals I cook typically consist of chicken, ground beef and turkey, steak, sweep potatoes, brown rice, broccoli, green beans and peas. I have also found that keeping my diet simple makes food prep easier and cheaper! More often than not, I eat every 2-3 hours, which helps keep me feeling full aside from keeping my blood sugars stabilized.


Aside from food prep being time effective, the prior planning helps keep me on track when it comes to eating the foods I need to be eating. I can take my meals with me anywhere to avoid making an unhealthy choice. Coolers are a great way to carry your food, and if you don’t have a microwave, well, you can always eat it cold J

But most importantly, the effort put in to preparing food in advance had been the key factor in helping to change my physique. Proper nutrition and consistency in diet is the absolute most important factor of my “trifecta” of fitness; weight training, cardio and nutrition. Sure, there are times when I don’t get all my meals in, and I definitely have “cheat” meals weekly, but keeping just 80% on track can bring your progress to the next level.

If you don’t already, I encourage you to give this a chance to see what it can do for you in reaching your fitness goals! Thanks for reading!

Sarah Serna