7 Fitness Goals That Have Nothing To Do With Losing Weight

Can we please stop perpetuating the myth that the main point of exercise is to lose weight? Plenty of us work out for other reasons. We're talking motivation like having more energy, sleeping better, or rocking badass looking guns. And — perhaps more importantly — folks who go into an exercise program with the express goal of shedding pounds are more likely to drop out. Weight loss, even if it is a goal of yours, is simply not the best motivator out there.

So what does make a good fitness goal? A good goal-setting rubric is the acronym SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. But we've got some ideas if that doesn't spark something for you. Click ahead to discover a few tangible, fulfilling ways to measure fitness success — that don't involve a scale.
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Step Lively
There’s a reason that Fitbit is a multi-billion dollar company. Counting steps is an excellent way to encourage yourself to take more of them. And while the scientific jury is still out as to how bad sitting for long periods really is for you, there’s no doubt that people who move more in general — a habit called “NEAT” or non-exercise activity thermogenesis — are healthier and leaner than those who don’t. But you don’t need to invest in a fancy tracker to set a step goal: Your smartphone has an app for that in Apple Health or Google Fit. You can aim right off the bat for 10,000 steps a day. This is what experts recommend, or take a more customized approach by turning on the phone app and see what a typical couple of days look like first, then set a goal of, say, 2,000 more steps than you’ve been doing.
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Use Up A Class Card
A staggering stat: As many as two-thirds of people who belong to gyms don’t actually go. So instead of signing up for an ongoing membership that the odds say you won’t end up using, buy a 10-class card at that cycling, yoga, HITT, or barre studio you’ve been eyeing. Make sure the class times jive with your schedule, and then put at least the first three classes on your calendar right away. Following that, schedule your next three right away—and be sure to get ‘em all in before the card’s expiration date.
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Learn A New Skill
What’s that? Chugging along on the elliptical holds no allure? Rows upon rows of free weights make your eyes glaze over? (Almost done crapping all over the gym, promise.) Then try something else! Take martial arts classes and work toward your first belt. Sign up for a belly dancing course. Try adult swimming lessons and then log laps. Pick up a jump rope and teach yourself to hop it consistently for one minute (or five!). In order words, find something that makes movement fun for you, so you’ll actually look forward to doing it. “What's something really rad you've seen someone do with their body that made you fantasize for a second about doing yourself?” says Michele Burmaster, a Body Positive Fitness Alliance-affiliated personal trainer and owner of Surf City Fit Club in Huntington Beach, CA. “Whatever it is, you can do it, too!”
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Run A Mile
Or target a goal time in which you want to complete that mile. The point is, pick a metric — time or distance — that’s measurable and attainable for you, and work your way up to it. If you’re new to running, that might mean starting with brisk walking and short bouts of running that get increasingly longer as your body adjusts to the demands you’re asking of it. If you’re working up your speed, you’ll be doing intervals of harder running with easy recovery. Why running, you ask? It’s the most accessible activity for pretty much anyone (barring pre-existing injuries or conditions) — you just lace up your shoes and go!
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Complete A Fitness Challenge
Challenges of the 30-day variety are not without their critics, who say they’re often overly specific and don’t lend to permanently changed habits since they’re finite. But that can be the beauty of the thing: You’re committing to daily movement for a whole month. Or maybe you do it every other day, or assign a different thing to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Or even just committing to three days of movement-based activity per week. “You don't have to be ridiculously strict and hard on yourself to be consistent,” Burmaster says. “You just have to set a recurring goal and meet it regularly, based on the schedule you decide.”
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Do A Pushup, Pull-up, Or Handstand
Now let’s get into specifics. Maybe you already go to the gym or take classes somewhat regularly, but you feel like your wheels are spinning a little. So choose a physical feat to work toward, and work on it. “Yes, you can do this,” says Brad Thomas, personal trainer and founder of Brad Thomas Mind Body. “You are strong enough, but you have to have a good plan to achieve it.” For pull-ups, for example, start with an assist, either from a friend holding your legs, a band, or a machine. If you’re not sure, ask a trainer for advice.
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Lift Heavy Weights
You’ll look at the premise of gaining weight in a whole new way when you’re measuring it in plates added. But please note: Lifting heavy to build strength does not mean you'll bulk up. Women’s bodies simply aren’t designed for mega-muscles, and the relatively few who get them generally make a very concerted effort. With a well-designed routine, you’ll become literally and figuratively more empowered as you can put up greater loads — even your own body weight, or more. “Your badassery multiplies with every single strength workout,” Burmasters says. “Plus, you're setting yourself up for better bone and muscle health as you age.”

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