Making Achievable Goals – by Keelin Regan Reed PT, DPT

I once had a young mom named Mary come to see me. Her goal was to tighten and tone her abdomen. She wanted to start with a 20 minute program she’d do every day. With a two year old and a five year old, Mary found out quickly it wasn’t working out. So, I developed a five minute exercise plan in which she would do just four abdominal exercises twice a week. Five minutes twice a week! She went on to experience success because she’d started with a doable program. Not only did she achieve the twice-a-week goal, but she did the program three times in the first week. She checked in every few weeks with me, continuing to work only five minutes a day, and she progressed to doing her exercise program about four times a week. On one visit she told me a story that explained how committed she was to her five minute program. She was running late for an appointment and was rushing to get her kids in the car to leave. She buckled them in and realized she had skipped that day’s five minute plan. But, she thought, “I can go up on the porch, keep an eye on the kids, and do five minutes of tummy work! It’s only five minutes!” So with kids buckled in the car she went up on her porch and banged out the four exercises. When she told me this, I burst into laughter. Such dedication to strong abs! This is a great story about making a commitment, sticking to it, and getting results! So, the next time you choose to pass on your five minute exercise program, remember Mary’s story. It may help keep you on track.

Mary’s story points out that you do not have to perform a lengthy exercise program 4-5 times a week to make a difference. If toning your abdomen is your goal, this is a achievable with a commitment of only five minutes a day. Have you ever tried to do push-ups for 30 seconds non-stop? How about crunches? If you focus on an exercise for a short amount of time and fatigue the muscle, then you’ll make a difference. Small things can produce big results. Try it sometime. Do 15 push-ups, 15 crunches and repeat for three sets. Try to do this two to three times per week and see how you feel after two weeks. You’ll notice a difference.

In my experience what makes my patients successful is setting goals that are achievable. PT’s have a reputation for giving patients many exercises to perform on their own which can take 45 minutes to complete. This can be very difficult for people to perform regularly, even if they put aside the time to do it. I have found that a 5-10 minute program, a program with 2-4 exercises is doable, and the patient is more willing to stick with it. Dedicating 5-10 minutes to exercise in the beginning is realistic. It’s much easier to continue week after week. Over time, a routine and habit is formed, and adding an extra 5 minutes is not too much to ask. Before you know it you’ll be doing 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week and it will become a priority for you no matter what.

Comment on what small steps toward fitness you will implement in your routine! We want to hear…

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