Make your health and fitness goals measurable and time-bound

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Making the initial decision to live a healthier lifestyle is the easiest part of being a Fit Dad.

That's because after the decision is made, reality sets in and you have to figure out things like when and where you're going to get your workouts in, how you're going to change your diet and what you're going to eat, and how you'll handle setbacks.

The problem so many guys face when beginning a fitness routine or starting an improved diet plan is a lack of measurable, time-bound goals. Too often, we dive in with big, overarching aspirations - gain muscle, lose weight, eat healthier, hit the gym more often, run a marathon - and get discouraged when those goals aren't met within a few weeks.

It's why so many New Year's resolutions fall by the wayside. Without a measurable, time-bound plan, resolutions and goals are simply wishes that too often go unfulfilled.

Back in 2012, when I decided I was sick of being a skinny dude, my immediate goal was simply to get bigger - to add mass to my 135-pound frame. But more than that, I had a weight in mind that became my first focus (150 pounds), and I set out a step-by-step plan to get there.

Success in health and fitness is not about achieving perfection or reaching a stopping point and saying "All done!" Instead, it's about making steady, consistent progress, and about pushing through those times when you feel like you want to give up (which will happen).

So, since dedicating myself to becoming a FitDad, my goal progression has looked like this:

  1. Get up an hour and a half earlier than normal at least five days at week to hit the gym...check
  2. Gain 15 pounds of lean muscle within 2 years to get to 150 pounds...check
  3. Achieve six-pack abs within 6 months...check
  4. Compete in a mud-run race (Warrior Dash) and finish in the top 5 of my heat...check
  5. Eat almost exclusively organic fruits and vegetables and natural proteins by the end of summer 2015
  6. Add 5 pounds of lean muscle in 6 months to the point where I can feel good about doing a fitness photoshoot...check

Each goal was measurable and had a timeframe in which I wanted to achieve it. With each goal attained, I could raise my bar just a little bit more, and incrementally, I'd be bettering my health and fitness levels.

My goal now is to add 10 pounds over the next 6 months to get to 165. After that, I have my sights set on competing in my first men's physique competition by the time I hit 35 years old, which gives me a little less than 4 years.

Of course, we all have different starting points, so make your goals fit your current situation. But remember to be specific and give yourself an identifiable target at which to aim.

So instead of "I want to lose weight," your goal should be more like "I want to lose 15 pounds in 3 months." Instead of, "I want to eat healthier," make it a point to cut soda and fried foods out of your diet within 6 months.

Doing so can mean all the difference in your Fit Dad journey.

Michael AshfordComment