Years ago, we held our first of many workshops – The 7 Steps of Actionable Goal Setting – and it was a tremendous hit.

We broke down how to set goals, take action on them, and progress through obstacles. Although most fitness advice falls under the typical “eat less and move more”, that is hardly an actual strategy that fits with people’s lives.

There are just too many questions, and it doesn’t take into account the most important factor of the entire journey – YOU!

At Lean Strong Fitness & Wellness, we do things a bit differently because we deal with people who have fitness goals, but also have real lives.

People who want to finally get fit for the first time, have tried and failed before (often repeatedly), and those who used to be in shape but are struggling to maintain a consistent routine after a major life change, such as marriage, a new job, or moving cities. These are accomplished men and women who are great at what they do, but often need help with fitness, because their time and effort goes primarily to kids, spouses, families, careers, friends, and many other commitments.

The way we see it, anyone can get results, but everything needs to be balanced in order for our clients to confidently maintain their results for life. That’s a tall order, but it’s what we do.

So, how do we do this?

By starting with the goal, and engineering it to fit the client’s life, not the other way around.Here’s step 1 to reaching your goals.


Young woman working out on a forest path.
Respect Ethics Honest Integrity Signpost Meaning Good Qualities

Before you do anything, you need to establish your core values. You can think of core values as the driving force on how you live your life. They can be the reason some decisions feel like a ‘no-brainer’ while others rub you the wrong way, even if you can’t figure out exactly why. They can also lead to unexpected resistance, and we see this a lot with parents when it comes to fitness.

For example, take Mary, a mother of 3 who works 9-5. Her husband works similar hours, but ends up having to go in early and stay late a few days a week, so Mary usually drops the kids off at school and picks them up from daycare. Mary used to be in shape (she loved to jog and run in the mornings before work), but since switching careers she has slowly gained weight and now has 25lbs to lose, while also feeling low energy after work. Mary also has a few nagging aches and pains, and knows she would feel better with regular activity. Because her health is important to her, she made a commitment to put her gym membership to use and exercise after work 3 days per week.

The only problem was, every time she planned to exercise, something always came up. Three days a week of exercising ended up being 1 actual workout, and not even on the day she intended. Cleaning up after the kids, getting their stuff ready for school the next day, or simply making sure dinner was ready when her husband had to stay late at the office always came first.

You see, health is a core value for Mary, but so is family. Every time she wants to go to the gym, she is taking away from her family, and deep down she feels guilty that she’s not putting them first. That guilt manifests as other reasons (i.e. packing lunches for school), but it’s the resistance between her family and health values that keeps her from reaching her goals.

When you ask Mary about how things are going, it’s the same answer every time:

I am too busy”

“Going to the gym doesn’t work for me”

“I don’t have time to exercise”

This isn’t a time problem, it’s a value problem. She needs to learn how to balance her core values, and that’s the first step of setting goals that truly fit your lifestyle.

Ideally, you want to live your life based on what is important to you – your CORE values – and here’s how you can figure them out.

First, write down everything that comes to mind, even if it’s a long list. Now, go through that list again and see what can be combined. For instance “Integrity”, “Trust”, and “Honesty” might all be able to be grouped as “Honesty”. Now, go through that smaller list and circle the ones that really, really sit strongly with you. Yes, we all value honesty, trust, and happiness, but what are the things that really resonate with you? Is X really a value for you or do you just feel like it should be? Try to get that list down to 6-7 main things, even if you have to go through the list a few times. Chances are it won’t be perfect, and that’s just fine.

The goal here is awareness, not perfection, values change as our lives change, and that’s okay.

Looking at the list, none of these are more important than others, but you can think of them as having somewhat of a totem pole.

For most people, a couple of values always occupy the top positions, such as career, family, and social lives. Others sit at the bottom, or might not even make the list. Did you even have health, fitness, or personal time on the list? Most people don’t. Even if they make the cut, they tend to sit at the bottom and never have a chance to come first.

Just by seeing what matters to you, you can see where you spend the most time. But it begs the big question: If all of these things are important to you, how come some of them don’t get any time?

It’s not about doing A or B or C. The best thing we can do is figure out how to make certain values complement each other so there is room for everything that really matters.

For Mary, instead of making her feel even more guilty that she wasn’t able to make it to the gym (how many times have you heard “no excuses”?), we can reframe her value. Her time exercising isn’t selfish time that she spends alone, it’s self care. This is time for her to recharge her batteries so that when she is spending time with her family, it’s quality time that she is truly present for, not just minutes ticking away on the clock.

Not only does this now support her family value, but it also fits her value of health, as she’s back on track for her goals and steadily losing weight. In addition to her couple times a week at the gym, by adding in a few, quick 20-minute morning workouts at home using only a kettlebell and a band, she can now train 3-5 times per week instead of the 1 time she was actually making it for.

Now she gets even better results, has more energy and enjoys her family time even more than she did before, without taking anything away from her other values. Mary had plenty of time to exercise, but it was the resistance between values that led to guilt, and ultimately inaction on her goal.

It’s something we see a lot with clients, and by starting with their lives, we can engineer the plan to fit perfectly.

Up next is step 2 – how to pick goals with a powerful ‘why’ factor. To make sure you don’t miss any updates, make sure you subscribe to the newsletter below

Leave a Reply


Simply fill out the form below and then schedule Your FREE phone consultation on the next page.

Shortly after we will be in touch with you to confirm your consultation. We are excited to meet you!

(give our form below a second to load, we love you for it!)


We Would Love To Meet You!
WARNING! Class Sizes Are Limited.

If you would like to reserve a spot… Simply fill out the form below letting us know what day you might come by & one of our amazing coaches will reach out to you to reserve your class.


101 Beverley St Suite B,
Guelph, ON N1E 3C3

(226) 706-9996


We Want To Offer You The PERFECT Membership For YouR NEEDS.

Simply fill out the form below and one of our amazing coaches will send you our current membership information.