How To Set Achievable Fitness Goals

Every year, right around now, we make a resolution to get in better shape, and every year, right around now, we break it. For 2016, we’re taking a new perspective, with a little help from Sue Glasscock, one of the founders of The Ranch Malibu, along with her husband, Alex. If we could spend a week anywhere for our health, it would be there; hiking, eating well, and soaking up the natural beauty, as well as the Ranch’s philosophy of mindfulness, outlined below. Her tips are better than worth sticking to, they are achievable and, can you believe, fun! 

Sue with her husband, Alex, and dog, Max.

Start the new year with a fresh and positive perspective by writing down three things you are grateful for each morning. Keep them with you all day and refer to them often.  Also make a point to smile and laugh as much as possible.  These will help train your mind to focus on the positive.  Our brains are like any other muscle: consistent training equals success.

Think about what you want to change and why. Then think about what is realistic based on your current lifestyle.  Set one to two goals max.  You are more likely to stick with something if you set smaller, achievable goals rather than trying to make radical changes that aren’t sustainable.  If you aren’t working out regularly and you want to exercise more, I would start with saying you will be active 2-3 days a week.  If your goal is to eat better, pick one or two things to add or eliminate from your diet. For mental health, maybe it’s five minutes before bed spent on taking deep, calming breaths.  As these small changes become part of your regular routine, I encourage you to build from there.  Most of all, be kind to yourself!  If you get off track, treat yourself like you would your 4-year-old child or your best friend: be unfailingly supportive and positive. It’s ok! Then, remind yourself of why you wanted to make the change in the first place and take the necessary steps to get back to your goal.   

Schedule your workouts, time in nature, meditation and sleep just like you schedule your work appointments.  Put them in your calendar and show up on time!  Being aware of what sends you off track and then finding ways to overcome those obstacles will make things easier.  If you are someone that skips meals because you’re running around all day and then binges on the first thing you see when you have a moment, keep a healthy snack or meal already on hand.  If you know you can’t get in a workout on a particular day, try to sneak in extra movements in other ways. Pick a parking spot that is a little further away from your destination, take the stairs, or get out a stop early on the subway or bus.  It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. When it comes to sticking to a routine setting workout goals you can achieve is one part, scheduling your time to accommodate your workouts is another, but finding something you like doing ensures you will actually want to do it!

© THE RANCH AT LIVE OAK COOKBOOK by Sue and Alex Glasscock, Rizzoli New York, 2014. Image from THE RANCH AT LIVE OAK COOKBOOK © Sara Remington

Even if you aren’t working out outside, it’s still very important to get outside.  Today’s clothing is technically amazing, except in the most extreme situation. Walk in the park with your dog, go sledding with your child, snow shoe. Once you get out and start moving, it’s invigorating, even if it’s just for a walk!  I speak from lots of experience growing up in Michigan. When my mom made me go outside my whole mood and spirit improved. It never failed.

As for indoor options, there are many… from gyms to boutique studios to online workout programs. At The Ranch we focus on low-impact exercise throughout the day.  At home you can vary the intensity based on your own personal schedule.  High intensity interval training is one of the most effective ways to burn the maximum amount of calories during and after a workout, but if that’s not for you, try yoga, Pilates or a barre class. Again, the most important thing is that you like it!

This involves some trial and error!  Take a class you never thought you’d like, to push your limits.  This doesn’t always mean pick the hardest class you find, but rather to try something new.  The Ranch 4.0 has an amazing hip hop dance class.  Guests are sometimes reluctant to try it, but they have such a blast that they look to incorporate more dancing into their routines at home. (Dance is great exercise for the body and the spirit!)  I’d also recommended going to a few different instructors of a particular type of class before deciding against it. The experience can be totally different based on the person teaching, so unless you really hate it, try a few people out to find your best match.  I also set up workouts with friends on a regular weekly basis. It’s perfect; we get in our workout AND we get to catch up and spend time together!

© THE RANCH AT LIVE OAK COOKBOOK by Sue and Alex Glasscock, Rizzoli New York, 2014. Image from THE RANCH AT LIVE OAK COOKBOOK © Sara Remington

My favorite way to stay fit is hiking. If I’m in a city, I find a park or open space to walk or run in, and spend time outside in nature whatever the weather!  For added intensity, I add interval training: short two-minute bursts of speed on and off for 10-15 minutes. This is especially helpful in cold weather.


For more of Sue’s wonderful ideas, tips, and healthful recipes, check out her and Alex’s cookbook, The Ranch at Live Oak Cookbook.  

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    Try the Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah. I have been there twice and plan to go again. The cuisine is amazing – you LOSE weight eating three great meals every day and they offer fitness classes, yoga, water aerobics, hiking, horseback riding – as well as taking care of your mind and spirit. Great value. I am planning to go back.

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