Family having fun together through physical activities and exercise

Are You Having Trouble Reaching Your Goals?

You’ve been moving more, climbing stairs and taking walking breaks at work. But really getting started on a new exercise routine—especially if you’ve been a happy couch potato for years—can seem overwhelming.

You may be disheartened at your level of fitness, or think you haven’t got enough grit to stay on course. Take a deep breath, and let’s break down the ways you can set realistic goals and reach them safely.

Related: Get Up and Go! Tips to Get Started on Your Exercise Journey

Are You Setting SMART Health and Fitness Goals?

Young woman at the gym trying to reach her fitness goals

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a newbie is biting off more than you can chew. Let’s take a look at these two goals. “I want to place in the Sundown Marathon next month!” and “I want to lose 30 pounds in a month!” Do they sound realistic?

A person who has not been exercising or training regularly will not be able to place in a marathon easily, or even finish a marathon without risk of injury. Losing too much weight suddenly may also hurt our health and immune system.

Setting a goal that is too big and unrealistic—and often unsafe—will do more harm than good for us.

Good Examples of Health and Fitness Goals

Your goals should be SMART:

Specific and Measurable

Use quantifiable numbers like 30 minutes or five kg.
Example 1: “I will walk for 30 minutes after dinner.”
Example 2: “I want to lose five kg.”

Related: What Is a Healthy Weight?

Attainable

Whether they are long-term goals or short-term goals, set a reachable, safe goal: you know yourself best!

If you work OT most nights, it may not be realistic to commit to a 45-minute gym session daily after work. Split your workouts: 10 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes during lunch, and 20 minutes after work.

Example 3: “Lose two kg per month.”
Losing two kg per month is attainable; aiming to lose 10 kg per month is unsafe.

“I want to do 100 push-ups a day.” “I want to do 1000 push-ups a day.” Which of these sound more attainable to you?

Related: How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way

Relevant

Work towards something you care about. If you’re happy with your weight, weight loss goals wouldn’t be relevant or motivational. An exercise goal might be more inspiring (e.g. run five km within three months).

Related: Exercise vs Diet

Time-bound

Set a deadline or choose a time frame so you’re motivated to start. What’s your end-point, your grand prize? Do you want to achieve your goal in the short term or long term?

How would you set a SMART goal for yourself to get the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week?

Example 4: “Exercise for 45 minutes each day, four days a week by end-December.”

Or perhaps, your weight loss goal is to lose 10 pounds. But are you planning to lose two pounds per week over five weeks, or five pounds per week over two weeks? The former is far more realistic than the latter. With your end-goal in mind, start working towards reaching your goal.

Related: Stop Wishing, Start Doing

More Tips to Help Your Reach Your SMART Goals

Start so Small You Can’t Fail

Start with a small and easy first step, e.g. do one wall squat every morning. The idea is to get used to moving and gradually work your way up: from one wall squat, to five, to a full 15-minute routine

Related: Exercise—It's Easier Than You Think!

Mind Your Body

Man resting at the stairs after a workout

Pain Is Not Gain

Soreness is normal, pain isn’t. Listen to your body, and stop if you feel pain—it could be a sign of injury or muscle exhaustion. Reaching your goals are supposed to improve your health, not be detrimental to your body!

Push yourself, but not to the point of hurting yourself in a bid to build muscle mass or lose weight quickly. As your buddy might tell you, “don’t be too keh kiang”.

You might also want to tweak your fitness goals to lower the intensity or impact. For example, instead of jogging, try badminton, tai chi or cycling. And consult your doctor before starting a workout routine!

Related: Move in Your Time

Take Care of Your Body

Warm up before your workout to prepare your muscles and avoid injuries, and cool down post-workout with stretches to minimise aches. Remember to drink water before, during, and after your workout to stay hydrated.

Check out this video for some warm up exercises you can include in your workout routine.

Warm up exercises can help prevent injuries that may hinder your health or fitness goals. 

Related: Water—The Best Refreshment

Dress for Success

Man with heavy backpack hiking.

Put on suitable and comfortable clothes and shoes when exercising, use proper equipment, and wear protective gear (e.g. helmets and guards) if needed.

Try to avoid going outdoors between 10.30 am and 3.30 pm—that’s when sun’s rays are the strongest. If you must head out, remember to put on sunblock, and grab a hat and a pair of shades.

Eat Wisely

Sensible diet plans are part and parcel of any weight loss goals. Avoid foods that are high in calories and fat, and choose lean protein foods when you are hoping to gain muscle mass.

Do consult your doctor before starting any exercise regime, and practise caution when exercising. Remember, safety first!

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