S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting For Fitness And Weight Management

by FitnessMantra on September 13, 2007

“Make Fitness Your Way Of Life”.

At its core, this FitnessMantra philosophy embodies making small, (usually) right choices throughout our lives instead of quick spurts of fad-diets and retrogressions. But, while choosing to live, eat and exercise right should be our lifelong mantra, tangible achievements almost always involve setting several short-term goals. And a proven way to ensure success is to make sure we are setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

targetS.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that describes the various attributes a goal should have to ensure maximum probability of success. The actual adjectives that the acronym stands for differs depending on the circumstances. ProjectSmart describes some of these variations:

S – specific, significant, stretching
M – measurable, meaningful, motivational
A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T – time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

How Can I Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals For Fitness And Weight-Management?

Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle or just be fit, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals will give you an edge by keeping you focussed and motivated throughout your endeavor. See how being S.M.A.R.T. pays off:

1. Be Specific About Your Fitness Goal:

Most of you might begin with a reasonable goal like “I want to lose weight”, but if you really stop to think about it, that goal is not quite specific enough. What amount of weight do you want to lose? When do you want to lose this by? The answers to this and other so-called “W-questions” make our goals more Specific.

Typically you try to answer the 6-W questions (Via TopAchievement):

Who: Who is involved? That’s easy! “I …”

What: What do I want to accomplish? Again, be specific here: “… want to lose 5 lbs … ”

When: Establish a time frame. “… in two months …”

Which: Identify requirements and constraints. Which way are you going to do this? “… by eating right and exercising …”

Where: Identify a location. The more details you fill in to form a complete picture, the more likely you will be to execute the plan. “… in the gym …”

Why: Give specific reasons, purposes or benefits of accomplishing the goal. “… so I can be healthy, fit and energetic.”

“I … want to lose 5 lbs … in two months … by eating right and exercising … in the gym … so I can be healthy, fit and energetic.”

Seems specific enough!

2. Make Your Goal Measurable:

OK so you have set a specific goal and have started making positive changes in your life toward achieving it. But how do you how well you are doing?

“You can’t make what you can’t measure because you don’t know when you’ve got it made.”
-Dr Irving Gardner

Measuring your progress at frequent intervals is as important as setting the goal in the first place. This serves a two-fold purpose: firstly you know pretty quickly whether what you are doing is working or not and you can take corrective action to keep yourself on track. However, the bigger advantage is the motivation that initial success will give you: nothing will boost your confidence and morale than seeing your body change for the better in the mirror every day.

3. Set Attainable Goals:

What if instead of setting a “5 lbs in two months” goal, you decided instead to shed “30 pounds in one month”? Not only is this unrealistic and virtually unattainable, but you are already setting yourself up for failure from the very beginning. Creating reasonable and attainable goals for yourself will propel you to success and keep that motivation factor alive as well. Think small, attainable targets and you’ll be alright because it’s the attaining of small goals that boosts your morale and helps you aim higher.

4. Be Realistic:

This is a little different from setting attainable goals. For example you might set yourself the attainable goal of a 32 inch waist in 3 months. That is certainly attainable if you are only a few inches away from your target. But when it comes to the methods you plan to use to achieve this goal, you might start to become unrealistic. “I will run everyday for two hours”, “I will not eat any sweets, candies, cakes or pastries for the next 3 months” and “I will avoid all fried foods” are all examples of unrealistic methods that you have a slim chance of sticking to.

Be realistic and ask yourself what the chances are that you will stick to any drastic change in behaviour.

Do you have two hours to spare for running? Every single day?

You won’t eat cake? On your wife’s / kid’s / best-friend’s birthday?

No fried foods? Even on SuperBowl night?

While some of these may be possible with extreme dedication, you are the ultimate judge about whether they are realistic – and sustainable.

5. Stick To Timely Goals:

Finally, no goal makes much sense unless you attach a timeframe to it. This is the “… in two months …” part of the goal statement. By limiting the time you have to accomplish a goal you have a fixed timetable to work with and the sense of urgency that will spur you to keep on track. In my opinion this is probably the most important attribute of a well-set goal because none of the others matter if you don’t set a time-limit by which to accomplish your goal.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. technique of goal setting to your fitness regimen, you will see slow but steady incremental benefits that are bound to raise your morale which will, in turn enable you to to raise your own expectations even higher.

Go ahead – set a S.M.A.R.T. fitness goal right away and work toward it!

[tags]health, fitness, SMART goal setting[/tags]

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

GeegeR October 22, 2007 at 12:05 am

FINALLY! Yes, it’s true, you should not try to throw yourself into something extreme. Fitness goals are much like work goals. At your job, you’re expected to do things over a 3-month period. Why not do the same with your weight?


Donna Armstrong October 14, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Thank you, I can go over thses settings at home. I look forward to making Smart a part of my daily fitness goals.


Healthier Living March 16, 2010 at 11:53 am

Health always a great wealth for all. Why we will not achieve this? In this consideration everyone want to have good health. Let us build our healthier life with controlled food habit,discipline, keep pace with work, rest and or exercise. While Health is the root of happiness let us build a Happier life.


joy December 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm

this site is great it has help alot


gem September 15, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Thank you, you have made it so much more easier and clear for me to understand s.m.a.r.t and I am surely going to do much better this time on my exam.


Jill Pyatt August 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm


I am an online high school teacher with Boulder Universal at Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colorado. We teach courses fully online for students who are unable to attend the classroom learning environment (typically due to medical, social, or personal issues).

I really enjoy the content of your website at: http://www.fitnessmantra.info/2007/09/13/smart-goal-setting-for-fitness-and-weight-management/

I would like permission to use this content in the Aerobic Walking class, which we will offer at Boulder Universal. Our use would fall under the educational, fair-use clause of copyright rules. We make no money from our classes. We are a non-profit school district like any other local school district. The classes are solely for student educational benefit, and we use content solely for educational purposes. Please feel free to look up Boulder Valley School District at http://www.bvsd.org

If I could link to your website, embed content from your website, suggest that students visit your website, and make mention of your website as a resource in the class I am creating, I would greatly appreciate it. The course is housed on a password-protected site.

Thank you so much for your consideration and prompt attention.
Jill Pyatt


FitnessMantra December 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Hi Jill,
Feel free to use the content on the site as long as proper attribution is made.


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