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How To Start Working Out [+Goal Setting Guide For Beginners]

Written by Liz Brown

If you want to learn how to start working out for the very first time or after a long hiatus, these 5 simple tips will help you create weight loss goals you’ll actually stick to!

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Staying consistent can sometimes feel like the hardest part of a starting healthy lifestyle. But knowing how to create the right set of goals will not only help you achieve them but also reach them quickly, without the stress and overwhelm!

Whether you’re thinking about establishing a workout routine for the first time or you’re just getting back into your groove after an exercise hiatus, there are so many amazing reasons to make fitness a part of your day-to-day life! From enhancing your mood and energy levels and reducing your risk of injury and health issues to helping you lose weight and build stronger muscles, exercise offers countless benefits to improve your quality of life.

But sometimes the hardest part of adopting a healthier lifestyle isn’t the actual process of working out every day, oftentimes it’s simply not knowing where and how to start! I mean, there’s a lot to think about considering what “getting healthy” actually consists of—exercising regularly, changing your habits and mindset, and who can forget, following a healthy diet 🥗. The process can be overwhelming!

If you want to learn how to start working out and take your health seriously, but you aren’t exactly sure how to get going, I have five simple and effective strategies for setting weight loss goals you’ll actually be able to stick to!

How To Start Working Out Again (Or For The First Time)

In theory, starting a workout program seems like it would be a piece of cake…

Ahhh, if only it were that simple!

The fact of the matter is that before starting any new exercise routine, it’s important to think about your goals and what exactly you’re looking to accomplish. You have to lay a solid foundation and know where you’re going before you even step foot in a gym—and setting weight loss goals is the way to do it.

Why Is Goal Setting Important?

When you fail to set proper goals for yourself, you’re basically setting yourself up to fail altogether. It’s like trying to drive from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Statue of Liberty without a map or GPS. If you don’t know where you’re going, chances are you’re going to get lost, give up, and head back the way you came.

This is why setting weight loss goals is crucial to your success. Goal setting allows you to establish benchmarks that keep you on a clear path toward your destination.

Setting Weight Loss Goals For Beginners

Have you ever been super motivated to eat healthily and workout and decide to go “all in” on day one? Your fridge is fully stocked with green juice, chicken breasts, and veggies. Your calendar is fully booked with workout classes at the gym. You. Are. Ready!

But, a few days in something happens… suddenly the taste of plain chicken breast and green juice makes you want to gag, you’re craving a cheeseburger and fries, and you’re too sore to even sit down on the toilet… You. Are. Exhausted.

We’ve all been there before.

This is a perfect example of how NOT to start working out again. When you try to do too much too fast you can easily burn out. This is not only frustrating but also time-consuming and can set you back further than where you started.

How To Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals For Weight Loss

When you’re setting weight loss goals, they should follow the S.M.A.R.T. formula. This acronym is a simple way to remember the five different criteria needed to create goals you’ll actually stick to long-term. S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

1. Specific

Whatever your goal may be, whether it’s weight loss related or not, it has to be specific and tangible. It should clearly state what you want to accomplish, otherwise, you run the risk of it being too vague to achieve. If you aren’t specific, it will be difficult to identify when and how to reach it.

For example: If you want to lose weight, you should decide how much weight you want to lose. Do you want to lose 10lbs? 15lbs? 30lbs? Your answer should be crystal clear. Even if it isn’t a certain amount of weight you want to lose, you can still be specific. Let’s say you have a favorite pair of jeans that don’t fit anymore and you want to be able to rock them again… but this time, without the muffin top. Effortlessly fitting into your skinny jeans without doing the wiggle dance is another way to specify your weight loss goal. 👖

2. Measurable

Next, your goal should have some sort of measurable component. If your goal is to lose 15lbs, how will you be able to track your progress as you’re working towards it? Working with the example above, monitoring your scale weight on a regular basis would be a good way to ensure you are on track to reaching your goal.

3. Attainable

The next question you should consider is whether the goal you have is actually attainable. It should be challenging, but still reasonable to achieve. Reflecting on this component can reveal any potential barriers that you may need to overcome in order to be successful. You may also outline any necessary steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

4. Relevant

In order for you to determine the relevance of your goal, you have to understand your “why.” This is about getting real with yourself and ensuring that what you’re trying to achieve is worthwhile to you. Determine if this is aligned with your values and if it’s a priority focus in your life right now.

5. Timely

Every goal needs a deadline. When creating a time-bound goal you are telling yourself when you plan on accomplishing it. Doing this keeps you motivated and really applies the focus and discipline necessary to achieve it. It’s also important to be realistic with your time frame. If you want to lose 15lbs, it wouldn’t be realistic to give yourself a week to do it. Keeping it realistic ensures you don’t get discouraged throughout the process.

The Bottom Line

It can be really disheartening to put so much effort and energy into a goal only to come up short. By using the S.M.A.R.T. method when setting weight loss goals, you’re not only creating ones you know you can accomplish, but also getting the results you’ve been working toward.

Keep in mind, it’s important to surround yourself with people who will support you on your journey to reaching your goals! SkinnyFit has a strong community of women all looking to make healthier choices in their lives and is a great place for anyone seeking inspiration, motivation, accountability, and camaraderie! So, if you want to start working out—for real—the SkinnyFit community will make you feel right at home. 💖

About The Author

Liz Brown

Fitness & Nutrition Expert (CPT., FNS.)

Liz is a health & wellness expert, writer, and editor with over a decade of experience in the fitness & nutrition industry. She emphasizes research and simplifies complex topics to help make healthy living simple and sustainable. When she isn't researching and writing, she's sharing delicious recipes, easy DIYs, and home decor tips on her blog and social media.

More from Liz, visit: Personal Blog, TikTok, Instagram


  • NASM Certified Personal Trainer(since 2012)
  • NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist (since 2014)
  • Credentialed Coach Practitioner, Coach Training Academy
  • B.A. Liberal Studies (Health & Nutrition Sciences)
  • A.A. Liberal Arts (STEM)

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