Goal setting is a key part of a healthy lifestyle says celebrity trainer Sarah Lindsay. Here’s why goals are important and how you can stick to them
If you are in need of some back on track goal setting advice (especially after lockdown), then Sarah Lindsay aka Roar Fitness Girl is here to help.
Sarah is passionate about everything health and fitness, and as a three-time Olympian and personal trainer, she really does practice what she preaches (plus she looks absolutely amazing).
As one of London’s most recognised celebrity personal trainers, with previous clients including Pixie Lott, Melanie Sykes, Sheridan Smith, Christine Bleakley, Callum Best, Professor Green and Lauren Pope to name a few, Sarah has the ability to inspire every one of her clients to become passionate about their own health and fitness goals.
Sarah is the owner of ROAR Fitness, that make up three gym sites in London (City of London, Liverpool Street and High Street Kensington) that creates body transformations like no other.
So why is goal setting so important when it comes to health and fitness? Here’s what Healthista Collective Expert Sarah Lindsay has to say…
Everyone needs a health & fitness goal
Everyone needs a goal to strive towards when it comes to health and fitness. Why wouldn’t you strive to be the healthiest version of yourself? Setting a goal not only keeps you accountable but also keeps you motivated.
Whether you’re wanting to lose weight, gain muscle, have visible abs, run 10k or simply learn how to enjoy exercise, these are goals that involve consistent effort.
You don’t have to think of goal setting as life changing or a way to show off
Over the years, I have found that when it comes to setting goals, people like to copy others or have the goal of trying to look or be like someone else. While this can be a positive goal to set, it’s important not to compare yourself to others and where they are on their health and fitness journey.
Oh and setting a goal doesn’t have to be a huge deal. You don’t have to think of goal setting as life changing or a way to show off, such as dropping half your body weight or being able to lift more than any of your mates.
Goals can be extremely personal such as, improving your energy levels, getting more sleep, building confidence in the gym, drinking enough water.
Short term & long term goals
When it comes to staying motivated it’s important to have short term goals as well as a long term goal. Short term goals should be used as a marker when working up to your long term goal.
Even the smallest goals such as being sure to drink three litres of water, will make you feel as if you are on the right track.
I’ll be honest with you though, some people never actually reach their end goal – and that’s totally fine.
Let’s say your end goal is to look super shredded with a six pack – even if you only get 90 per cent of the way there, you’re going to look pretty bloody good!
Short term goals should be used as a marker when working up to your long term goal
The smaller, daily goals that add one or five percent to your end goal are what will really make all the difference over time.
By all means aim high, but please don’t feel upset if you never actually reach that high end goal, because even part of the way is still a huge achievement.
Maybe you haven’t lost all the fat you wanted to, but still lost the majority. Maybe you haven’t lifted as heavy but still reached a personal best. Maybe you didn’t beat your 10k time but it’s still faster than before.
The fact is if you stick to your smaller goals you will get to your end goal. Trust in the process.
So, what sort of goals should we be setting ourselves?
Nutrition, training and sleep are the fundamental factors of fitness that should always be focused on when it comes to goal setting.
When it comes to setting a nutrition goal, firstly look at what you’re currently eating on a daily basis and calculate how many calories you are consuming.
If your long term goal is weight loss, then your short term goal should be to reduce your daily calorie intake. If your long term goal is to gain muscle then your short term goal should be eating more calories and upping your protein intake.
By working out how many calories you need for your specific goal, you’ll then know what you need to do daily if you want to see results.
If your long term goal is weight loss, then your short term goal should be to reduce your daily calorie intake
Even if that means eating the same foods for the foreseeable future, it will be worth it. Eating the same foods is a hard thing to get people to do, but I promise it really does work when it comes to seeing results, plus it’s only a short term thing.
Let’s say you consistently eat the same meals for a few weeks and you aren’t losing any weight, you’ll know for sure that what you’re eating and how much isn’t helping you reach your goal and so you will make the necessary changes until you do see results.
Maybe your calories are too high? Lower them and monitor. Maybe you’re eating too much fat in the evenings? Stop for a week and monitor.
But if you are eating loads of different foods in different amounts, you won’t know which food or how much is stunting your weight loss or muscle gains.
That’s why I always advise that the more consistent you can be with your food choices, the easier it is to work out what works and what doesn’t in order to make changes moving forwards.
Good quality sleep is necessary for life, it is NOT a luxury. We all need around seven to eight hours of good quality sleep.
I understand there are obstacles (if you have young kids for example I realise that sleep can be impossible temporarily), but it has to be a priority when it comes to goal setting for your own physical and mental health.
I have an evening routine to help me wind down. I shut my lap top by 9:30pm. I get into bed at 10pm and take magnesium. I light my favourite smelling candle and read for 30 mins. It’s just a little routine that sends me off.
Look at the quality of your own sleep when it comes to setting a nightly sleep goal:
- Do you need to get more sleep?
- Do you need to improve the quality of the sleep you are already getting? Are you restless?
- Are you waking up to check your phone?
- Would having a bath, meditating or lighting candles before bed help you to drift off earlier?
Getting good quality sleep will mean you are able to recover and repair quicker. This means you’ll be able to train harder and are more likely to smash your short term and long term goals.
When it comes to setting training goals you need to be realistic. How many times can you realistically train per week?
When you have worked it out, write down and schedule what days you plan to go and stick with it, do not make excuses. For example, make a short term goal of going to the gym two to three times a week for a month.
Plan also what you will be doing at the gym and on what day. There is nothing worse than going to the gym and not knowing where to begin or what to do.
write down and schedule what days you plan to go to the gym and stick with it
Making it up as you go along never works. I don’t even like making it up as I go along and I’m a PT. I love to have what I am doing written down or else I probably wouldn’t do it and skive off.
Even sports professionals who are extremely talented, need a coach and a plan to get them through their sessions. So how on earth are people who have full time jobs and families supposed to do it?
Even if you feel tired, it’s much more likely that you will go for it and get through the process if it is written down. Make life easier for yourself and take some of the mental effort away from your workout and plan your session ahead of time.
How to stick to the goals you set…
Remind yourself DAILY
Constantly remind yourself of that end goal. Whether that is to lose 14 pounds, be able to see your abs or get to your 10,000 step goal every day for a year.
Write it somewhere you will always see it.
You should also get yourself a journal and write down three to five smaller daily goals that you want to focus on in order to work towards your long-term goal.
Tick off these goals at the end of each day. There is nothing more satisfying than ticking off a to-do list. It’s always been important to me that on a daily basis I never let myself or my goals down – it’s what motivates me everyday.
There is nothing more satisfying than ticking off a to-do list
As I mentioned above, planning and organisation is your best friend when it comes to setting goals as this too is a helpful daily reminder to stick to your goals.
Not only should you be planning out your training schedule and sleep routine but your food too. Write down what you will be eating and when so that you can make it the evening before.
If you aren’t sure how to do it yourself, ask a professional or get yourself a personal trainer who can help set those goals for you.
Consistency is key
Consistently working towards your goals is the only way to reach them.
There is no point working towards your goal one month and then forgetting about it for two months. Even if you have fallen off the wagon and neglected your goals, always try your best to come back, even when things aren’t going your way.
One of the things I am most proud of in myself was coming back from injury thanks to consistently sticking to my goals.
I had a really awful back injury and I couldn’t train for a year and three months. I was taken off the team my funding was stopped and I only had two years till the next Olympics.
Ask yourself, ‘how much do you really want this?’ Make it work and don’t make excuses
It was a huge fight for me to get back to where I needed to be, and although two years may seem like a long time, in the sports world it’s no time at all.
I was pretty broken at certain points but my determination to come back, was so strong, I didn’t care that the doctors said I wouldn’t walk properly again or I would never skate again.
My goal was to get back to where I was and for two whole years I didn’t step a foot out of line. I did everything I could to come back and reach my goals, and then some. I was so determined and motivated and that never wavered.
What I am trying to say is, if you make a goal, be consistent and stick to it. Ask yourself, ‘how much do you really want this?’ Make it work and don’t make excuses.
Involve others in your goals
Try not to use working from home and being in your own bubble as an excuse not to stick to your goals, no matter how tempting it may be to snack more or not reach your daily step count.
To keep yourself accountable for when you are lacking in motivation, why not sign up for some online classes, or give your friend a call and ask if they want to work towards a specific goal with you.
Joining in on a group class will motivate you to stick with it. Live workouts are good too, because you can’t just take your time during a workout and you can’t be distracted by your phone or wonder off to the kitchen because you have joined in on a live workout with other people.
- Find a class you like, hook up with someone on Zoom and do a workout together.
- Create a healthy eating plan and discuss your progress with a friend.
- Get the whole family in on a healthy eating mission.
- Go for daily walks with a colleague.
- Explain to your housemates that you are working on sleeping better and ask them to turn the music down after 10pm.
By involving others in your goals you will be far more motivated to actually stick to them – there is nothing wrong with a bit of pressure or healthy competition.
Remember to enjoy the process
One of the most important things about sticking to your goals is to enjoy the journey.
Far too many people see exercise and healthy eating as a punishment. I find myself constantly reminding people that if their goal is to feel fit and healthy, that shouldn’t mean they feel miserable along the way.
People tell me that the only reason they train is because they eat bad food or feel bad about how their bodies look. You shouldn’t be setting goals for negative reasons but for positive ones.
Instead you should be training so you can make your body stronger. It really should be a celebration of what your body is capable of achieving – I know it’s cheesy, but you should test yourself and praise yourself for it.
You need to enjoy the journey or you won’t ever stick to your goals
Eat healthy and nutritious foods so that you have better energy levels and skin, not because you don’t look like the people on Instagram.
The cycle of punishment happens very quickly after the novelty has worn off and that’s why so many diet and fitness journeys end prematurely. Don’t punish yourself. You need to enjoy the journey or you won’t ever stick to your goals.
I understand that many people don’t enjoy exercising, but there is bound to be something out there that you enjoy that will keep you fit and active, whether that’s dancing, rowing, horse riding or any type of sport.
Don’t force yourself to do things you don’t want to do. Go for a run, see if you enjoy it, if not try something else. Pick a playlist full of songs you love and dance around the house like a maniac. As long as you are moving and staying active, you’ll enjoy the process.
Sarah Lindsay is a three-time Olympian and personal trainer like no other. A European gold medalist, 2x world silver medalist and 10x British speed skating champion, Sarah is an inspiration to anyone looking to reach their full potential.
She is one of London’s most recognised celebrity personal trainers, who’s clients include Caroline Flack, Pixie Lott, Melanie Sykes and Sheridan Smith to name a few.