When you’ve been a member of a gym for a while, you start to see certain trends.

One of those is the wave of newcomers that come in every year after the Christmas holidays, sporting spiffy new workout gear and crowding the treadmills, ellipticals and other machines.

Then, a few months later — maybe not even that long — many or most of those newcomers start to slowly fade away, never to be seen again.


Who knows?

Maybe they just lost their motivation. Maybe their expectations were too high (“Man, this stuff ain’t working!”)

Staying motivated to work out consistently and long enough to see positive results can be a challenge, not only for those newcomers but for us old-comers, as well.

So how to stay motivated?

One way is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound).

For instance, instead of setting a goal to lose weight, be more Specific. How much weight do you want to lose? Twenty pounds? OK, there you go. More specific.

Measurable: pretty simple on this one. You’ll be able to measure your goal by stepping on the scales, right?

Achievable: now, losing 20 pounds is a Specific goal. But how can you make it more Achievable and Realistic? How about breaking that down into smaller goals? A good rule of thumb for achievable weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds a week. So … how about making your goal to lose 20 pounds in 10 weeks. That takes care of the last part, which is Time-bound.

So that’s a SMART goal. Instead of a vague, I wanna lose weight, you have I want to lose 20 pounds in 10 weeks, which comes to an average two pounds a week. That way, you can keep track of your progress each week, and the idea maybe doesn’t seem as daunting. A little easier to achieve.

Also, don’t be too hard on yourself, if you come up short at times. You’re in it for the long haul, right?

Ten weeks overall.

And if you miss the mark, it’s OK. Maybe you lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks.

Congratulations, man!!!

Surely you’re gonna be happy about that!!!

And now that you’re proven to yourself that sticking with it really does get results, hopefully you’ll keep on keeping on. By now, you’ll probably have formed a new exercise habit.

One other thing that can help is this: figure out your WHY.

WHY do you want to start (and keep) exercising?

What is the big reason.

Not just to be healthier, or to lose weight, to get in shape, or whatever.

Dig a little deeper than that. WHY do you really want to be healthier, lose weight, get in shape.

For me, there are two big WHYs:

I want to get as good at pole vaulting as I possibly can. To do that, I need to be in as good a shape as I possibly can get.

Also, I want to hold off Father Time as long as possible. I want to stay fit and strong as long as I’m breathing air. I want to maintain my independence to the very end.

So there you go.

If you’re already a regular exerciser, that’s fantastic. I’m proud of you. If you find your motivation waning, remember, SMART goals and do you know your WHY?

And by the way, SMART goals work for pretty much anything. It doesn’t necessarily have to do anything with exercise.

Do you have a dream?

What is it?

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