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Step Five: Set realistic goals

Setting realistic goals can help increase your chance of maintaining your new exercise program. Although people traditionally tend to set goals such as "I want to lose 20 pounds," this is not necessarily the most productive type of goal. VF readers recommend setting performance-oriented goals rather than appearance-related goals. Fat loss may be slow, especially in individuals who have not exercised in a long time, and focusing on weight or fat loss can be frustrating.

Performance goals tend to be easier to achieve, and exercisers generally have more control over their success. The mental boost you get from reaching a goal helps you stay motivated even before you see visible results of your workouts. Fat loss tends to happen as a side benefit when you focus on performance-related goals, anyway. Celebrating improvements in strength, coordination, flexibility, and endurance gives you pride in what your body can do--no matter what your shape.

Performance goals can be small, easily achievable things or more lofty goals. Ideally you want to have a mix of both types of goals. Even small victories may mean the difference between maintaining an exercise program and dropping out.

Read some examples of behavioral and performance-oriented goals