15 Realistic Fitness Goals to Make This Year (And Exactly How to Accomplish Them)

You know how it goes — we all start out the year with aspirations to get fit, get healthy, and be our best selves. But when those goals are based on long-term ideas of how we want to look (“lose 10 pounds,” “go down a pants size,” “get abs,”) rather than short-term goals on how we want to feel, those goals fall through in a matter of months, or even weeks, and you feel let down, disappointed, and like a failure.

Break the cycle this year and make fitness goals based on what’s actually good for you, and goals that you’ll actually be able to stick to. When you focus on what your body can do, rather than how your body looks, you’ll start to appreciate it so much more, and want to give it more of what it needs to be its healthiest. If you’re looking for a little extra motivation to get you moving, look no further than Nordstrom. Not only do they have the best selection of activewear and sneakers, but they also have some of the most stylish accessories (think water bottles, wireless headphones, and super chic gym bags).

Replace your fitness goals that are focused on the way you look or the way your pants fit with these 15 resolutions that will make you *actually* stronger and healthier:


1. Try one new workout every month

Keeping the same exact routine when it comes to your fitness is never a good thing. For one, your body gets used to the same workouts, meaning you’ll plateau and won’t continue to get stronger. But also, if you stick to the same exact workout routine, you’ll get bored. Being bored will make you less likely to want to workout, but also you want be enjoying it, and guess what — exercising should be fun.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Always be looking for new opportunities to workout. Check out the classes your gym offers, say yes if your work friend invites you along on her run after work, or if you see a $10 first class deal at a yoga studio, do it.


  • Go for the opposite workout of what you’re used to. If you’re a gym rat who prefers weight training, try a dance class; or if you’re a diehard yogi, try an HIIT workout. Changing up the routine will not only help your body get stronger, but will help you enjoy the process, too.


  • Instead of stocking up on your usual gym uniform, go for more versatile pieces like sturdy leggings, sports bras, or light tanks (rather than gym shorts or cycling shoes that are specific for certain workouts).



2. Stretch more

Stretching is one of the top things we can do to help strengthen our muscles, avoid injuries, and even relieve tension — both physical and mental. And yet, people often don’t stretch enough, and combined with a sedentary lifestyle and tougher workouts, are causing more injuries and muscle strain.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Lightly stretch the muscles you worked after every workout. No exceptions!


  • Make stretching and flexibility training a part of your routine. Take a few minutes in the morning to do a few morning stretches to wake you up, and a few minutes at night to help you wind down.


  • Find breaks for stretching throughout the day, like during commercial breaks or once every hour during work.





3. Perfect your form

You could be working out all the time or doing dozens of reps, but if you don’t have the right form, you might not be strengthening as much as you think, or you could actually be injuring yourself. It’s so important you know exactly how to perfect your form (no matter what type of workout it is), so that you can properly protect your body and strengthen your muscles.


How to Accomplish It:


  • If you have it, utilize the free personal training session at your gym to have a trainer give you one-on-one attention for perfecting your form.


  • Actually ask your fitness instructor questions, or hang back after class to discuss postures or movements you’re not sure about.


  • Don’t go up in weight or reps until you know that your form won’t be compromised.



4. Get a workout buddy

There’s a reason why a workout buddy holds you accountable — when you make plans with someone else, you’re much less likely to cancel last minute. Plus, when you have a friend who knows your goals, they can help keep you on track and motivate you, maybe better than you can motivate yourself, sometimes.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Team up with a coworker to workout before the day starts, make friends with people in your gym/class, or tell a friend you trust your fitness goals and ask for help staying accountable.


  • Instead of your usual coffee date or happy hour drinks to catch up with friends, suggest a barre class or going for a walk.



5. Do something active every week that calms you

Fitness should not be all about working as hard as you can, as much as you can. You have to be just as serious about your rest days as you are about your workout days, and focus on the mental benefits of fitness just as much as the physical. Instead of sticking to intense, heart-pumping, sweat-dripping workouts, add in an activity every week that makes you feel calm.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Instead of a 5th day at the gym, go to a calming yoga class at the end of the week, or do your own flow at home. Focus on Savasana more than you focus on the tricep push-ups.


  • If it’s nice outside or you need some fresh air, don’t force yourself into a studio — take a walk instead! Listen to a podcast, put on your comfy shoes, and take some time for yourself.


  • Try out meditation. It’ll quiet your mind while your body rests, too. If you need some help, check out apps like Headspace or HappyNotPerfect.



6. Walk during your commute

You might’ve heard that a healthy person gets 10,000 steps a day, minimum. We are meant to be constantly active, so sitting at a desk all day (as the vast majority of us do from 9am-5pm) is bad for everything from heart health, to muscle strength, to anxiety. Work on replacing any type of commuting or traveling with walking as much as possible.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Close out the Uber app and challenge yourself to walk to your destination


  • If you’re going somewhere too far to walk, get off the train a couple stops early, park in a farther garage, or have your Uber drop you off a few blocks away.





7. Remind yourself of your “why” every day

2019 goals often fail (or are forgotten by February) because we forget the “why.” When we’re waking up for an early morning workout or saying no to the office donut, it can be hard to convince ourselves to actually do it because we just don’t want to, for any other reason besides that we’re supposed to.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Instead of feeling like you’re supposed to do something, remind yourself why you want to do something. Tell yourself you want to workout before work because it makes you feel better during the day, or you want to say no to the donut because donuts make you feel sluggish and sick.


  • Journal the ways exercising well and eating right makes you feel


  • Tape affirmations, mantras, or your “why” somewhere you’d see it every day to remind yourself.



8. Drink more water

Yes, you probably already know you should be doing this one, but it’s crucially important for achieving your fitness goals that you not only stay hydrated, but also are drinking as much water as possible. Water literally keeps almost every part of your body at peak performance, and that includes your muscles. When you’re even slightly dehydrated, your muscles can’t work as hard, and you’ll be more tempted to overeat.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Find the type of water bottle you like the best and buy multiple. This sounds so simple, and yet is the easiest way to trick yourself into drinking more. Do you prefer tumblers with straws, glass bottles, or steel canisters? Figure it out!


  • Set daily goals for yourself that are easy to follow, like “drink three water bottles full of water before lunch” or “after dinner, I’m going to drink two cups before going to bed.”


  • Add fresh ingredients to your water like lemons, mint, cucumbers, ginger, or fruit. Not only will it boost the nutrients, but it will boost the taste too (and feel bougie AF!).


  • Drink a glass of water every single morning before you have a cup of coffee or a bite of food. Sleeping naturally dehydrates us, and our bodies need water before they need anything else (yes, even caffeine).



9. Track your fitness progress

You might think that you’re not a numbers person or aren’t competitive to hit number goals, but when it comes to fitness, trust me — you might be. Having a measurable goal, and actually measuring that goal, is so much easier to stay motivated for. Also being able to track progress along the way (rather than accomplishing one big goal) keeps you motivated to keep going.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Try workouts that use heart rate monitors like Orange Theory or Cyclebar to motivate you to beat the stats from your last class or hit goals.


  • Get your own fitness tracker so you can keep track of everything from your heartbeat to your steps (remember how important those 10,000 are?).




10. Get 7-9 hours of sleep

Say it with me now: Sleep. Is. Crucial. For. Your. Fitness. Sleep gives your body time to recover and rebuild muscles, as well as conserve enough energy for you to exert at your next workout. More importantly, not getting enough sleep will cause your body’s stress levels to spike, which holds on to unwanted fat and causes multiple other health complications. Aim for 8-9 hours, but get no less than 7.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Go to bed just 5 minutes earlier every night. You won’t even notice the difference but in just a couple weeks (or less), you’ll be sleeping one hour more than you used to.


  • Use apps like Sleep Cycle that monitor your REM cycles so you can check your quality of sleep and track your average time spent asleep.


  • Perfect a nighttime routine that helps you wind you down. Read for 15 minutes, go through a meditation, or have a multi-step skincare routine. You’re less likely to break a routine you enjoy the next time you’re tempted to watch TV until late.



11. Move a little every day

There are hundreds of reasons why it’s important to move at least a little bit every day. Put simply, movement boosts energy, increases mood, regulates digestion, and improves circulation. Rest days are important, but a rest day is not an excuse to lay on the couch and watch TV all day.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Walk to work or your evening plans instead of drive, or take a walk around the block in the afternoon.


  • Consider going on a light jog or dancing around your living room (fun and good for you!).


  • Go through a yoga flow or attend a yoga class.


  • Stretch often throughout the day.



12. Schedule workouts in your calendar

If you put a meeting in your calendar, you’re not going to break it right? If you have a scheduled appointment, you plan the rest of your day around it so you can make it work, don’t you? So why can’t the same be said for your workouts? Hold yourself accountable by treating your fitness time as any other meeting or appointment.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Schedule workouts in your calendar at the beginning of each week, rather than wake up each morning thinking, “I’ll workout sometime, today.” News flash: you won’t (I know, that was way harsh, but you know it’s true!).


  • Try signing up for workout classes in advance. The cancellation fee itself will be enough to ensure you show up, and the strict start time will make sure you’re not late or push it off.


  • Honor the workout as you would a business meeting (since both belong in your calendar!). Show up on time, plan ahead, and be prepared.





13. Always take the stairs

Remember the importance of getting those steps in? Escalators and elevators are one of those sneaky reasons our step goals seem impossible to reach. You’d be shocked to know how much of a difference something as small as taking the stairs can make. Climbing stairs builds strength, sculpts muscle, and physically counteracts the damage done by sitting in a chair for a long period of time (aka, all of us).


How to Accomplish It:


  • This one’s pretty simple — walk up the escalator (if you can) if there’s no option for stairs (like at the airport), and make a concrete commitment to take the stairs instead of the elevator, every time.



14. Aim for balance

Working out way too hard and way too constantly without proper time to rest and recuperate could lead to burn out and unhappiness. Instead of making goals based on how “intense” you want to be or how “hard you want to go,” aim for balance, so you can be as healthy as possible, both physically and mentally. Listen to your body more often than you listen to your workout plan or fitness routine.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Do something every single day that you count as “self-care,” whether it’s getting to bed early, reading for 30 minutes, or doing a face mask.


  • Make sure you’re enjoying your health routine. If you’re feeling bored with your workouts, switch it up. If you feel exhausted, take a break and try yoga. Make yourself inventive and interesting food instead of just bland protein and veggies for every meal, and master healthy cooking.


  • Actually listen to your body. Become a master at knowing if you’ve been too lazy and need to get up to exercise in the morning, or if you’ve been running yourself too thin and you need a day to sleep in.



15. Give yourself a compliment or gratitude every day.

By now I don’t need to tell you the importance of self-love and body positivity when it comes to achieving your goals. The more you believe in yourself and love yourself, the more likely you are to achieve your goals, because you’ll be achieving them for the right reasons. Putting yourself down or feeling like you’re not reaching goals fast enough will make you already failed instead of motivating you to work harder.


How to Accomplish It:


  • Start a gratitude journal. Write what you’re grateful for about your body — how your thighs are so strong, how you can run so fast, or even just that you’re healthy and alive.


  • Stare in the mirror and give yourself a compliment. Look for the good in yourself, and tell yourself you’re beautiful for a million other reasons besides the way you look. Eventually, you’ll start to believe it.


  • After every workout, make it a habit to silently say thank you to your body for working so hard and bringing you through the workout. Distancing yourself from your body helps you to think of it more kindly and put less pressure on the way your body looks.


  • The only thing keeping you from being the strongest, healthiest version of yourself is your own belief that you’re not already there. Believe in yourself, and there will be no goal you can’t accomplish.




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This post was in partnership with Nordstrom, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.