By Madeleine St. Marie


I’m sure you have a friend (or have BEEN that friend) that complains about their weight or their lifestyle, and declares that they want to make a change. They eye a person who is making positive strides in their life and beg them for a piece of advice. No matter what the piece of advice is, however, they seem to completely disregard the help and sink back into their old ways and keep trudging in a rut of unhappiness and unhealthiness.

As annoying as this is for the friend dispensing advice, people today seem to want change immediately. In a culture that satisfies our impulsive need for instant gratification, certain things still take a long time to achieve, and they frustrate the hell out of us. Learning a trade, losing weight, filling anything out at the DMV. The trick here is to realize that these things are journeys instead of destinations and to plan accordingly. For the longest time, I would stare at the number on the scale, swear at that number, and resolve to start turning my life around immediately. But when the pounds didn’t magically disappear within a week, I would get discouraged. I kept forgetting that I was no longer 15 years old with an extracurricular list longer than my forearm and a metabolism to match.

I had to change my attitude if I had any hope of succeeding.

Think about it: when you were younger and you were learning something that was new, were you able to master it completely right away? No. People might have an aptitude for something, but mastery over something requires practice and persistence. If you love something, the practice might come easily, and you’ll progress fairly quickly. If you aren’t as wildly enthusiastic about it, though, you need to find a new way to progress.

This is where manageable goals come in. The little things add up to create something huge.?I try to keep a record of personal bests and top them whenever I can. In an effort to keep myself from getting bored, which happens really easily, I have a couple: not dying during the Spartan Race on November 19th; getting through an entire set of fire hydrant drills during Stacey’s Black Belt Booty without stopping; keeping cheat meals to 3 times a week; and getting and maintaining a body weight under 160 pounds. (Almost there!)

I also polled some friends and family for their fitness goals:

“To make my thighs smaller.” – Dominique

“My short term goals are to get under 165 pounds and 7% body fat; win three major Jiu Jitsu tournaments; and to complete 3 5k obstacle courses and 1 10k obstacle course. My long term goals are to maintain a body weight below 170 pounds and 10% body fat; to maintain a 7 day workout regimen, and to get my black belt in Jiu Jitsu.” -?Joe Garcia

“I don’t have any. I should probably change that.” – Gary

“My short term goals are to complete the Spartan Sprint and sign up for another Spartan Race in 2012; to find a way to??balance my Spartan style training and martial arts in a way that I progress in both without feeling like I’m sacrificing one or the other; to incorporate more outdoor training (trail running, etc.) into my regimen; and to grow more of my own food and eat less meat. My long term goals are to?continue to challenge myself, live in discomfort, grow and improve, and be in extraordinary physical shape until the day I die.” – Jonathan Aluzas

“I guess to lose 40 pounds. My main goal is to lower my blood pressure and stay off all medications.” – Betty

“My short term goals are to complete the Spartan Race and sign up for one in the future; jump outside the box of safety and push myself to new limits; and to begin my process of furthering my education in nutrition. My long term goals are to maintain my weight of 112 lbs and body fat of 20%; maintain my weekly workouts inclusive of kickboxing, strength training, cardio and dance; and finally, to always prove to myself that I can accomplish new and challenging goals.” – Stacey Garcia

If you need a fitness goal, check out Stacey’s Holiday Shred. Your goal could be placing in the Shred, or beating the record you set last time you participated. As for me, I will attempt, once again, to lose weight rather than gain it. Goals can be long-term and short-term, but they can’t be so daunting that they overwhelm you. You didn’t go from crawling to sprinting. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.