Set realistic goals to get in the best shape of your life!

The number one reason why most people fail to achieve their dream results is because they set unrealistic goals. Their mind-set is all or nothing and they throw themselves into a diet and exercise regime that would daunt an athlete, only to run out of steam a few weeks, or at best, months down the track. This sort failure can lead to the long-term perception that diets don't work, exercise is too hard and ultimately any dreams of getting in shape may never be realised. With this sort of thinking it is easy to fall into the trap of giving up and settling for what you've got. But the fact is that the only reason you have not achieved your goals is because you have gone about it the wrong way! There is hope, it is possible to be in the best shape of your life no matter what age you are, no matter how many kids you have had, no matter what your lifestyle is like – you just have to be realistic and be willing to work it, sometimes for longer than a few weeks or even months!

So how do you set realistic goals? Well the first step would be to write down exactly what you would like to achieve. Is it fat loss, an increased fitness level, to build muscle, to increase flexibility, or even just a more general – to lead a healthier lifestyle? Once you have established this it is important to look at what in your routine is at odds with you achieveing these goals. Write a list of all your bad habits – and be brutally honest! Do you skip meals, eat too large portions, snack on junk food, eat too late, eat out a lot, hate vegetables and/or fruit, love take-aways, drink lots of soft drink, hate exercise – what are your vices??

So now you have a clear goal and you have a list of all the things in your life which are stopping you from achieveing this goal. The next step is to decide what you are willing to give up or change to get the results you want. Depending on how much you want to reach that goal will depend on how much you are willing to change in your lifestyle. Now don't get me wrong – I don't think you should chuck out all your vices at once and end up with the same unrealistic goal chasing that we talked about earlier – but I do believe that making subtle changes to these vices will help you to beat them once and for all.

So lets use an example to illustrate. Lets say your main goal is to lose fat and the lifestyle choices you have made which are stopping you from doing that are: snacking on sweet treats, eating too large portions at dinner and not liking exercise. To achieve your goal you would have to make some realistic changes to your eating habits and consider adding some form of activity to your routine. That may be as simple as:

1. Buying single-serve versions of the treats that you have been snacking on, instead of buying a large packet where you are tempted to eat more than just a couple.

2. Buying the low sugar, and/or low fat varieties of the snack foods or looking for alternatives that are not as high in calories.

3. Cutting down the amount of meat and carbohydrates you fill your plate with at dinner and substituting with lower calorie vegetables.

4. Using a smaller plate to serve yourself so that even if you go back for seconds you won't eat quite so much all up.

5. Drinking a big glass of water before your meals to fill you up or having some low calorie soup as an entree so you won't over eat the mains.

6. Parking your car a bit further away from the destination where ever you go so that you can get those extra steps in and burn more calories.

7. Using stairs instead of the lift, going for walks in your lunch break even if it is just window shopping.

8. Considering adding a short walk into your schedule whenever you can, or getting some workout DVDs you can do at home so you don't even have to leave the house.

As you can see there are numberous options for slight modifications to your lifestyle, which will have an impact long term. Once you get started with subtle changes you will find yourself feeling motivated to continue and start making bigger changes down the line. Achieveing your goals, no matter what they are, is definitely a psychological game. You have to trick your mind by taking baby steps. Even if you were to make one healthy behaviour modification a month, or even a year, you are doing something towards achieving your goals. Just don't give up and keep setting new goals and you will break those old habits and be in the best shape of your life!

For more diet and exercise tips have a read here!

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