Let's face it, making significant changes in your health and fitness is not easy. It takes time and great commitment. Once you've set your goal, you need clear strategies to help you reach it.
Write: Make your goals clear. When you can see the bigger picture the steps required to reach that become clearer. Setting goals is great, but writing them down, and even putting them on the fridge where you can see them every day, is even better. This will give you visual inspiration and hold you accountable for your decisions.
Plan: Once you have set out your goals and evaluated your current position, you need to write up a plan on how you will achieve them, with defined steps along the way. Small steps towards a larger goal are much more achievable, than one big overall and probably challenging goal. On a micro level, you will need to plan each individual workout and session. If you meander around the gym thinking about what to do next, you’re wasting valuable time and are not truly focused.
Schedule: Most health and fitness goals take time. If you've set a nutrition-oriented goal, you'll likely be spending extra time at the grocery and cooking. If you've set a fitness goal, you'll of course be spending time exercising. Make appointments with yourself on your calendar, and treat them with the same respect that you would an appointment with a friend, family member or customer.
Budget: For your goals to be achievable, what you need to do to reach them should fit within your budget. Exercise doesn't have to be expensive. If you don't have the budget to join a gym, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to get exercise, such as walking, running, biking, tennis, exercise videos, and so on. If paying for an expensive gym membership will help motivate you to exercise, go for it. If not, don't let money be the reason that you fail to meet your goal.
Support: Telling a trusted friend or family member your goals may help you stay accountable. Be sure to pick someone who will be supportive of your goals, and not judgmental. Find strategies for dealing with people who are barriers to your success. Keep them updated on your progress, and share with them how you feel about your successes or misses. If you fail to meet one of your goals, think of it as a short-term miss and challenge to be overcome, not as a failure.
Evaluate: Before starting any fitness plan you should evaluate your current position and what you are able to achieve. What can you realistically do? Where are you currently at? What size is your waist? How far can I run? This all impacts the plan you will put together. You should evaluate your goals regularly and reset them if required. If you are not tracking or achieving sessions as you had planned, then perhaps change the plan to better suit your abilities. Writing down and tracking your workouts and progression will demonstrate the gains you are making (or not making). Along with using a pen and paper, there are many electronic versions of a log to help you monitor and track many aspects of your training. This should help with future planning.
Perspective: Above all, keep your goal in perspective. Self-deprivation doesn't work. In fact, with respect to diet and nutrition, it doesn't even work and will quickly backfire on you. Similarly, spending 15 hours at the gym every week will likely drive both you and your family nuts. You're more likely to be successful if you maintain balance and perspective.
Variety: Variety is the spice of life, and the same is true with health and fitness. You may have found the perfect meal to eat to stay within your calendar limit, but eating it day in and day out will have you soon heading for the pizza joint. Similarly, exercise becomes dull unless you vary your routine. In addition, your body rapidly adjusts to a particular exercise, so a lack of variety will cause you to plateau and slow down your progress.