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

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