Assessing Your Fitness

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Assessing Your Fitness

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Assessing Your FitnessHow fit are you? How fit do you want to be?

Answering these questions, and writing down your answers so you can revisit them later, is a great way to kick off a fitness program -- or to take your fitness program to the next level.

What Are Your Fitness Goals?

First, write down some fitness goals. I encourage you to jot down some ideas for this -- really get the pencil moving across the page -- even before you're certain of the goals you're choosing. Call the first version a rough draft, if you need to, but get your ideas on the page. You can always refine them later.

It's crucial that these are YOUR goals. Maybe your brother has run eight marathons -- that doesn't mean you "should" want to run even one. Maybe you don't care about how you look in a bikini -- which is fine. Write down things that are meaningful to you, even if they're as simple as "Fit into my old jeans again."

Also, be sure to come up with a handful of goals so that it's not all about one thing. There may be days when you're not motivated to work on losing fat so you can fit into your old jeans . . . but you could work on your flexibility, your strength, or your nutrition.

Numbers from Your Doctor

It's a good idea to talk to your doctor before you launch into a fitness program, especially if you're following training or nutrition plans that you haven't tried before. And while it's hardly a fun thing to think about, you should also have your bloodwork done so that your doctor can talk to you about cholesterol and related fats, blood glucose, and other indicators of your health.

For that matter, when's the last time you had a full physical? If it's been more than a year, pick up the phone and set an appointment today. What you find out from that visit may help you clarify or expand your goals to include things like lowering your cholesterol or getting your blood sugar in line.

How Far Do You Have to Go?

Now that you have a good idea of where you're headed, figure out exactly where you're starting. Look back at that list of goals and figure out how you'll measure progress for each one. For example, if you want to fit into those old jeans, but you know you're three sizes too big for them right now, each smaller size from where you are represents a milestone along the way to your goal.

Finally, "field test" yourself against your goals. Forgive yourself in advance for any results that aren't ideal, but be sure to write down the results. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Try on all of your clothes. If you're slimming down, go through your wardrobe to see what fits you now, what will fit you when you're partway to your goal, and what (besides those jeans!) will fit you once you've hit your goal. Sort your closet by size so that the next smaller set of clothes is waiting for you as a reminder of the fitter version of you that will be arriving soon.
  • Go for a half-hour walk, run, swim, or bike ride. If you have goals for cardiovascular fitness and endurance, take a crack at your favorite activity to see how it works for you. Maybe you figure out that you can jog for only 15 minutes before you get winded, but that you can walk the rest of the half-hour with no problem. Maybe you figure out that you need new running shoes. Whatever it is, write down what you learn.
  • Test your ability to do pushups. Even if you plan to hit the weight room to get really strong, you can use a simple pushup test to determine where you're starting. How many pushups in a row can you do? Or how many sets of 20 pushups can you do within 15 minutes?
  • Take your best shot at your favorite yoga pose. Maybe once upon a time you could bend at the waist and touch your nose to your knee. If flexibility is one of your goals, see how close you are to your old standards. Just don't give yourself a muscle strain!

Your findings from these field tests -- along with the numbers from your doctor -- will give you a baseline to compare against as you make progress toward your goals.

One note: I recommend that you DON'T make the number on the scale a regular part of your self-assessment. Sure, weigh yourself now -- and even take your picture in your bathing suit -- so you can have a "Before" to compare yourself to later. But don't obsess about your weight along the way, because it can fluctuate naturally even when you're succeeding with your fitness plans (especially as you add muscle). Focus instead on how your clothes fit, how you feed yourself, and how you feel, and the number on the scale should take care of itself.

Now get started! 

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Tim Walker, lifestyle and personal finance guest blogger for leading provider of debt relief CareOne Services, Inc. Tim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro living in Austin, Texas. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. You can read Tim's CareOne blogs in A Straight Talk on Debt. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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  • I ran a marathon (my third) last year....this year I'm opting for a shorter race (10 mile) and going for time - 75 minutes is my goal.  I'm looking forward to spending some quality time on a track doing some speed training as part of my yeah!

  • That's awesome, Travis!

  • Hi Tim,

    First off, I came across your site and wanted to say thanks for providing a great heart-healthy resource to the community.

    I thought you might find this article helpful to your readers who are trying to lower their cholesterol, as it shows photos of what 100% of your daily value of cholesterol looks like. It’s quite shocking!

    Naturally, I’d be delighted if you share this article on , and/or share it with your followers on social to help them make better food choices. Either way, keep up the great work Tim!

    All the best,


    Nicole Lascurain • Assistant Marketing Manager

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