9 Tips for Setting Realistic Fitness Goals

OK. It’s time for me to fess up. I haven’t actually exercised since I ran the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12. Seriously.

At first I told myself it was to let my body heal. And then it was because after running 26.2 miles, nothing seemed like it was good enough. I mean if I can’t get out and run for 4 hours and 57 minutes, why bother?

Well, other than the fact that my legs have turned to a mush of cellulite Jell-o, it’s a great stress reliever and it helps to prevent a plethora of health issues.

So, as the new year takes root, I’m giving myself—and you—a pep talk. There are realistic ways to get back into the swing of fitness, and it doesn’t take 5 hours a day to do it. Here are 9 ways to get started:

  1. Find a partner. It’s always easy to hit snooze if you’re just thinking about going to the gym by yourself before work.  But, disappointing a friend who’s counting on you? That’s a different matter completely.
  2. Hire a personal trainer. There’s always another work e-mail to send or another child to pick up or a husband to greet. But, if you hire a personal trainer and make set appointments each week, it’s on everyone’s calendar—including yours. You’ll plan around it and make fitness a habit.
  3. Exercise during commercials. This may sound silly, but if you’re watching 2 hours of TV and you exercise at every commercial, you’ll get in about 24 minutes of exercise. Sit ups, jogging in place, push ups—whatever. It all counts. TIP: Keep your hand weights in your entertainment center and you can do 3 reps of bicep curls, squats, lunges or peck flies at each break for an awesome strength training routine.
  4. Walk a mile during your lunch break. This will take you 15 to 20 minutes depending on your pace. If you work, it gets you away from your desk. If you have kids, bring them along. In addition to health benefits for you, you’re teaching the kids good habits. Don’t know what a mile is? Check out the USA Track and Field website and click on “create a route.” This will take you to a Google map that will allow you to parse out a mile from your current location.
  5. Take the stairs. Or get the furthest parking spot from the door. Or take the long way home. Or walk to get coffee instead of driving 5 blocks. … You get the idea.
  6. Take yoga. This fits in with a scheduled workout and a scheduled time each week. In addition stress relief and serious stretching, there is some great strength training going on here … without lifting a single weight.  And if you look at Hatha or Bikram yoga, you’ll get some great cardio benefit as well.
  7. Try something different. Take a spin or step class at your gym. Go to the scary machine that has both pedals for your legs and handles for your upper body. Or, branch out to something completely different. Take a dance class, try a climbing wall, learn karate or experience the Bar Method.
  8. Incorporate exercises into everyday activities. This may sound weird, but I do one-legged squats and hip lifts while I’m brushing my teeth, and I do calf raises when I’m on an escalator or before I exit the stairs. Other ideas: Every hour, sit down (if you’re not already) and squeeze your glutes 20 times. After you’ve hit snooze, do some simple stretching and bridges before getting out of bed. Every time you pick up a book, bottle, can, ream of paper, etc., lift it 10 times with each arm in a simple bicep curl or shoulder raise.
  9. Even 20 minutes counts. Can’t get to the gym for your normal workout of weights and cardio? Stop by the gym on your way home from work or running errands and get in 20 minutes on the elliptical or do a quick circuit of weights. Worried about running errands in sweats? Check out our article on workout wear that works all day.

While you may want to set those big goals of working out every day or making sure you do both cardio and weights every time you hit the gym, you’ll psyche yourself out if you can’t put in the time. So, even a little bit may be more than what you’re doing now.

Do you have other ways to set realistic fitness goals or incorporate exercise into the every day? Please share in the comment field below.