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A new year. New resolutions. But how many of us keep our resolutions past the end of January? We’re not saying goals aren’t good. They’re a great way to keep us motivated and they can pave the way forward to our success. But goals need to tick the right boxes in order for us to achieve them. Use these SMART principles for goal-setting to get your body into the best shape it’s ever been.

S – Specific

Clear, easy to understand and not vague. Your goal should be a specific action you are willing to undertake. For example, ‘to run three times a week for 30 minutes’. Or ‘to run your first 10km race by the end of March’. ‘To get fit’ won’t cut it. Know what you want to do? Now, write it down so you can see it in front of you.

M – Measurable

Only if you measure your goal, can you see your progress. So, whether it’s your weight, a specific distance, time or average heart rate, measure it regularly to see if you’re on track to reach your goal. This will also help to keep your goal realistic. A measureable goal is: ‘I want to reduce my cholesterol level to below 5 by June’ or ‘I want to lose 5kg in the next 4 months’.

A – Attainable

When it comes to goals, sometimes smaller is better to start. Or you can break your big goal up into smaller, more manageable goals that are easier to achieve in the short term. You could be setting yourself up for failure if you don’t allow yourself enough time to reach your goal or if you’re not being realistic about what you can achieve. For example, instead of saying you want to lose 10kg in three weeks, rather take a more realistic, healthier approach like aiming to lose the same amount of weight in 10 weeks. Or break your goal up into shorter term goals like ‘to lose 3kg in 3 weeks’ and then repeating these until you have reached your goal weight.

R – Relevant

Will you enjoy reaching your goal? Is it an activity that matters to you and that you really enjoy? If your heart’s not in it, you won’t enjoy preparing for your goal, and you won’t reap the rewards of your efforts. Let’s say you don’t really like cycling in a large group, then setting the Cape Town Cycle Tour as your goal won’t work. Or if swimming is not your strong point, then maybe the Midmar Mile is not the best choice. You’ll only end up less motivated. Remember, training should be fun.

T – Time

Timing is all important when it comes to setting an achievable goal. ‘By when’ you want to achieve your goal not only sets you up to achieve it on a specific date, it also helps to keep you motivated and sticking to a plan. If your goal is to cycle the Cape Town Cycle Tour, find out what date the race is, and start training for it within the recommended time frame. It would be unrealistic to start training for the race 3 weeks before, and this could lead to injuries as well as a loss of motivation. Starting your training at least 12 weeks before the event is more realistic. The same goes for weight loss. Find out how much you can safely lose per week, and work out your weight loss goal from there.

Here’s to a healthier, fitter 2016!