Text image: Why sensible goals suck. Fitness trainer drinking coffee.

How to Set Goals to Get Healthier

goal setting goal setting research goals motivation weight loss May 13, 2020

Do you value your health?⁣

Of course, you do!

Over the last few years, I’ve seen people paying more and more attention to their health (and the health of their loved ones), which I absolutely love to see. 

Since the pandemic started, you may have woken up to just how much you value your health and started thinking things like, “I should’ve been eating healthier, exercising more, and taking better care of myself.”⁣

And if I ask you why you want to work out and eat healthier, the first answer that comes to mind is likely going to be “to be healthier.”⁣

Then maybe, “to lose weight” follows shortly after.⁣

Those are sensible answers, but they’re pretty unhelpful when it comes to sustained behavior change and lifestyle modification.⁣ 

But something that is helpful? Motivation.

Not just any kind of motivation, though.

Intrinsic motivation is what you should be shooting for. 

Spoiler alert: “I want to be healthier” and “I want to lose weight” don’t typically fall into that category, but read on to figure out how you can change that for yourself to see more success.


The Best Kind of Motivation


In a study by Segar et al. (2011), they found that people with intrinsic goals are more likely to make the behavioral changes necessary for fitness goal achievement.  ⁣

In this study, researchers asked 226 people about their reasons for exercising. Following this assessment, these people were tracked over the next year to see how much exercising they ended up doing. ⁣

Those that reported “quality of life” as the main reason (a whopping 15% of people) exercised 34% more than those with reasons related to appearance and 25% more than those with reasons related to their current health.⁣

So what does this really mean?

This study indicates that the most common and culturally accepted reasons for exercise (health and weight loss) are associated with less exercise. 

Having a sensible goal like “I want to exercise to improve my overall health” may not be the way to go to achieve results. Instead, you’d benefit from cultivating a better kind of motivation. We’re talkin’ about intrinsic motivation (P.S. this is why those people seeking a better quality of life are more consistent!) 


How to be Motivated to Exercise

You can read more about intrinsic motivation here, but I’ll give you a brief rundown of how to use this to help you reach your fitness goals. 

When you set fitness goals based on intrinsic motivation, you’re focused on how achieving your fitness goals will make you personally feel. 

It’s not about doing it for something or someone else.

It’s not about getting “in shape” for a vacation or because you’re jealous of your sister-in-law’s figure.

Start by answering this question, “how does exercise make me feel?”

The answer may be confident, empowered, capable, or a myriad of other fulfilling and satisfying answers. 

You can also look at how regularly exercising shows up in other areas of your life. Chances are, you’ll find that you have more energy, increased productivity, healthier relationships, better sleep, and so on. 

You’re more likely to succeed when you start using these intrinsic motivators when you set your weight loss or other fitness goals (or ANY goal in your life, tbh). 

And if you’re a fitness coach, I highly recommend that you guide your clients to look at their intrinsic motivation when they are setting goals. ⁣

NOTE: there’s nothing wrong with seeking health or body composition change. But if you’re struggling to stick with your healthy behaviors — your *WHY* might be bullshitting you.⁣ Cultivating intrinsic motivation means finding a better, more productive *why* behind taking action.


What’s Really Holding You Back?


Maybe you would benefit from more intrinsic motivation (honestly, I’m sure everyone would!)

But every single person lives a different life with unique roadblocks, and the first step to making more progress is identifying exactly what those roadblocks are and THEN determining specific steps to tackle them.

And I’ve got just the thing for you to do this!

Check out our FREE fitness and behavioral assessment. This quiz will help shine a light on the aspects you’re missing and need to focus on most in your fitness journey.

Once you get your results, I’ll be there with some specific takeaways to help you out. (And yes, totally for free.)

And if you want more help with getting stronger, losing fat, improving your mindset, or otherwise improving your health, the KJO Coaching team would be thrilled to help you out. 

We work with high-achieving women to teach them to prioritize themselves and love the way they look and feel. We do this by teaching you how to address the physical and mental side of your health. 


Click here to learn more about coaching. 

Check out my original post here.


Connect with us!

Email: [email protected]

IG: @coachkaseyjo @kjocoaching



Segar, M. L., Eccles, J. S., & Richardson, C. R. (2011). Rebranding exercise: closing the gap between values and behavior. International journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 8(1), 1-14.

Hi, I'm Kasey!

I coach, mentor, write, and teach with one main focus: Build strong bodies and healthy lifestyles, starting with your mindset.


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