I’ve seen it all in my almost 20 years of work in the Fitness Industry when it comes to short term goals, such as New Year’s Resolutions. I appreciate this time of year due to the influx in gym memberships, the surge of energy that comes with the new year, the excitement of clients over a new fitness gadget, workout clothing, or fad diet, but I also cringe deeply. Not because I can see the trend that will occur, or the defeat people will feel, but because I know everyone CAN be successful with realistic goals based on their personal lives. It’s almost like clockwork, seeing the change in energy at the gym in the beginning of January to the change that occurs about Mid February. I feel for the clients who so desperately want to see change and those eager to see some sort of reward from their hard work and new found dedication. Whether new to fitness or stuck in their fitness journey and making new commitments to exercise or diet, we all simply want to feel better and see changes quickly. After all, it is human nature to want more and to strive for the best because who doesn’t want to feel better? look better? or improve their health?


My view tends to be different from that of many trainers. I am not a physique first trainer. It’s not about perfection. I truly want to help each person determine realistic goals that fit with their lifestyle and to get rid of the ‘All Or Nothing’ approach that leads to failure. I’ve been there and the struggle is real! There is no magic quantity of exercise, sure there are guidelines, but the goal can be to focus each exercise session on quality and achieving a lot in a small amount of time. If a client says to me, “ I don’t have time”, “I am too tired”, “my body hurts”, “I’m broke” or “ I can only exercise at home”, I reinforce them and help them figure out a realistic plan that will fit their lifestyle, allow them to listen to their body, and ultimately, allow them to feel in control and feel successful with their efforts.


Aside from changing the all or nothing mentality, here are some insights on how to achieve reasonable goals:

  • Make an emotional connection. Until we truly have an attachment to our goals, we will see no change. I hear the usual weight loss goal and the common desire to feel better goals, but I encourage clients to dig deeper! Get down to the real reason why you are not happy with who you are and express your frustrations and figure out WHY you want to change and WHY it is important to you. Is it because you want to be around for your grandkids? Is it because you currently have no self worth? Is it because you are tired of failing? Next, genuinely ask yourself how these things affect your life. The cookie cutter goals and answers are not enough, you have search your heart to find the drive to move forward, or else the burnout sets in and on any given day when the motivation is not present, it is easy to simply give up because their is not an emotional attachment.
  • Map out your roadblocks and develop a plan to overcome each one. If a roadblock is lack of time, what is your plan for the busy days when you are running the kids around? Another may be the negative self talk or lack of motivation. Maybe intimidation or a physical injury. We know that life will get in the way, it always does but in order to be successful in the long term we have to determine how to tackle each roadblock before they occur.
  • Do not obsess over the scale! (Trust me, I’ve been there). I encourage clients to seriously look at their exercise and diet and to be honest about why they feel nothing is working. Often, it can be denial or making unrealistic goals according to lifestyle. Instead, be mindful of the scale, look at tape measurements, look at strength development, look at how exercise has impacted your life. I see clients who weigh themselves often and allow the scale to dictate their mood. This is not a healthy approach and they are setting themselves up for failure by making that the only focus.


To be successful we must be thankful and we must be realistic. We must train with a purpose. Everything we do should serve a purpose and be realistic to the overall goal and desired outcome. Goals should not be feared. Keep it fun, keep it real, and seek help as needed in developing long term fitness expectations moving into the New Year.


Submitted by: Natalie Doornink, BA, ACE-CPT, Owner FitNat Exercise Design & Consulting, Fitness Manager Grantsburg Fitness Center

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