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3 tips for making your fitness goals a reality

Are you still doing all the activities you planned? Are you eating as healthily as you promised yourself? How are you progressing with your fitness goals? Below are 3 tips for turning them into a reality.

Exercising more, eating well (and the right amount) and generally following a healthy lifestyle – these are the goals that we all want to achieve, but keeping yourself on the straight and narrow is not at all easy, because unexpected events are always around the corner, and, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “you can resist anything except temptation”.

All it takes is a minor slip to trigger a vicious circle, where the guilt you feel after skipping a workout session or eating a few too many calories leads you to believe that none of the good intentions you had are within your reach. Following this, it's almost inevitable that you'll give up trying to achieve your goals, which of course drives you back to old habits. Fortunately, however, with a dose of good will and some practical advice, you can reverse this process.

Never lose heart

The first tip that we have for you is that you should never lose heart, and certainly never give up. Setting a goal and keeping this clear in your mind is the most important step you have taken; not giving up at the first hurdle and keeping your eye on the finish line is the next logical step. Guilt has a dual function: on the one hand, it can be positive, in that it discourages recurrent bad behavior; on the other, however, it is a huge source of stress, and can have a negative impact on mood. The achievement of a goal is linked to the mechanism of self-regulation, which is split between two phenomena: fear of failure and motivation.

Don't set yourself unachievable goals

Those who suffer from an excessive fear of failure – as well as those who tend to feel too guilty – tend to make illogical or contradictory choices, setting themselves goals that are sometimes impossible to achieve. Healthy motivation, on the other hand, focuses you on reasonable challenges. Trying to lose twenty kilos in a fortnight on a fast diet or running a marathon after a month of sporadic workouts is a nigh-on impossible mission. In addition to needing to be rational, goals can really be considered to be achievable if they are also measurable: as such, good intentions need intermediate steps, or at least a compass to help us understand whether or not we are headed in the right direction. In addition, we must never forget that the goals we set ourselves must be “calibrated” against our real desires, and not the expectations that others may have of us.

Why is it so easy to make mistakes? To find an answer to this question, there are entire tomes of neurophysiology literature that we should probably read. Among the many reasons why people fail to live up to their good intentions are the so-called “reward circuits”; these regulate the sense of well-being that we feel after a pleasant or virtuous behavior. Reward circuits function according to different time scales, depending on stimuli and results: eating half a bar of chocolate when we shouldn't give us a feeling of well-being – or in other words, a reward – that is much more immediate and short-term than that following any possible future weight loss.

As such, it is extremely important to work on delayed gratification, or the ability to resist temptations that promise immediate rewards in favour of a more substantial and gratifying reward in the future.

Change your action plan

Another idea for when you feel that all roads have already been taken and the temptation to give up on your goals is overwhelming is to radically change your action plan. In this regard, group workout sessions have been proven to have incredible results in maintaining our good intentions and achieving our goals. Revolutionizing your diet, starting a new sport or hobby and completely overhauling your workout routine are a few great ideas to get you started.

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