The importance of having small fitness goals to achieve results

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If you look deeper into the world of fitness, you will understand that progression is one of the most important aspects to get the best results. If that statement sounds redundant, it is maybe because you don’t know progression as one of the principles of physical training. Doing it the right way will help you achieve your goals but missing the target would make you lose valuable time and money with no satisfying results.

But, what is the best way to progress in exercise and fitness?

Baby fitness steps

If you want to race a marathon, you won’t be trying to go for a 26-mile race for starters with no previous training and conditioning. Instead, you would enrol in short-distance competitions first, get used to them, and slowly advance into longer runs. The same principle applies in everything you try to achieve with your body. You need to know the importance of taking baby steps towards your ultimate goal.

Instead of enrolling right away in the next race, start with frequent training sessions. If you don’t feel it’s challenging enough, race instead of jogging or increase your goals in time or total miles. Do not take another step forward until you feel your body has gotten used to what you’re already doing.

The same applies to weight training when you decide to increase your loads. You won’t try to lift heavy right away in spite of your technique. Doing so reduces the effectiveness of your workout and increases your risk of injury. Instead, according to the principle of progression, you could increase the number of repetitions while keeping the same weight (which is called volume progression) or increasing weight when you’re able to do extra repetitions with a perfect technique (simple load progression).

Keep motivated to achieve results

Changing the way your body works and how it reacts to exercise might take longer than expected. However, it is possible to keep motivated. One of the most important tools you have to keep your motivation lies within you. If you track your own advances and actually see your progress in numbers, that will give you the motivation you need.

Tracking how much time it takes to run your 5-mile goal and keeping a record of the weight you are lifting will give you statistics to see your real progress on the way. Monitoring your numbers every month or twice a month is maybe what you need to keep motivated and see the results of a new lifestyle adjustment or a training style you’re trying. This will help you understand more about your body, find the right match and find the best way to progress in your individual case.

However, we can’t talk about motivation and not mention the people you surround yourself with. Finding a group with the same fitness goals you have will help you keep at it and enjoy exercise. Sharing your thoughts, tips, motivation quotes, and day-to-day experiences with likeminded people will give you an extra boost to achieve your goals and go for a greater feat.

So, if you really want to achieve results, remember baby fitness steps, track and measure your progress, and keep motivated by sharing your experiences with people like you. The principle of progression lies in not giving up and learning more about your body every step you take in this endless journey towards a better self.


Gibson, A. L., Wagner, D., & Heyward, V. (2018). Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription, 8E. Human kinetics.

American College of Sports Medicine. (2013). ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Barriers To Achieving Your Best Shape

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Original article published – September 12, 2017


When it comes to fitness goals, typically most people will only focus on the Physical State, but in this context, I’d like to offer a definition of best shape that includes Mental and Emotional States as well as the Physical. If you can align all these three states, you will feel like you are in that metaphorical “zone”, not just in the area of fitness, but also in the other areas of your life.

Whether it’s personal development or fitness training, there are 3 barriers to achieving your best shape. These three barriers are excerpted from our current book “Fit to Lead”.

  1. Resistant to being honest about “Where Am I”?
    Often I meet clients who have a great deal of enthusiasm when they talk about where they want to be in the future, but who are a lot more resistant about looking honestly at where they are right now.
    Everyone likes to focus on the destination and “the vision thing”, and while that certainly is important, trying to get to that point without stopping to clearly establish your starting point in life is a very common trap. As we say in our book, if you are not honest about where you start from in life, then you are doomed in any attempt to reach your desired destination.
    Telling the truth about your starting point often requires courage. You have to be willing to give up your image as a “good” person (whatever you think that means).

Stop talking about where you want “To be” and start building your best shape by being honest about the “As is”.

  1. Resistant to asking for and accepting support.
    In general, we have observed two main reasons why people are reluctant to ask for and/or accept support. Some people do not want to be a burden; they worry that other people are already busy enough and don’t have the time or the energy to support them. Other people see asking for and accepting support as a sign of weakness. They have their whole identity wrapped in their ability to be able to do everything required on their own and see the need for support as a fundamental flaw in their own character.

Your fitness goal is your personal goal, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own!


  1. Resistant to the “Start now and start small” mantra.
    The desire for fast and immediate results is a common trend, but when it comes to fitness, it is not simply about the destination, it is also about embodying healthy choices and practices as we journey through life. This is what creates sustainable change.
    In our experience, people can be divided into two types when it comes to putting new behaviours in place. Some people resist getting started at all. There always seems to be a reason in their mental state pillar or a feeling in their emotional state pillar not to start now: “now is not the right time”, “I don’t know how to do it perfectly yet” or “I just don’t feel like it”. These are the great procrastinators, and underneath most, if not all, of their protestations is fear; fear of making a mistake, hurting someone else’s feelings or simply discomfort.
    Other people have no problem whatsoever with getting started. The word that they resist in the mantra is not “now”, but “small”. These people want to be on top of Mount Everest today. They are not interested in the small steps to get there. Their Mental State has them saying things such as “that’s too easy”, “it will take too long if that’s all I do” or “there’s no challenge in that, so what’s the point”, etc.  These people are often committed to getting started, rather than actually finishing.
    People with this mentality tend to quickly experience discomfort in their Emotional State and become frustrated, blow up or get bored along the way. They have tried to run before they can walk, and when they inevitably fall over, they tell themselves “it is impossible for me”, “it will take too long” or “something else is more important now”, and they go looking for something else to start and then the cycle repeats itself!

At the beginning of my own fitness journey, I was in this Mental State. I was good at starting things but not committed to actually finishing them. 11 years ago, I was one of those who paid a monthly gym membership just so I can enjoy my coffee in their comfortable lounge, rather than working out on their gym floor. I had no problem with “starting now” but I noticed my resistance towards “starting small”. Over time, I began to see how this did not serve my purpose. I had to tell the truth about where I was right now in my life and how my own mindset was holding me back.
Once I realised this, I became certain that I wanted to choose a different attitude and stick to it. How did I do this? I found a goal to which I was emotionally connected. It took time to reach where I am today, but it has been worth the practice.


So how do you move from here? A perspective:
When it comes to a fitness journey, there is no finish line, but you can always approach your fitness goal like a series of sprints and not a marathon. Always know that there is a pit stop coming up for you to recover, reset and relaunch yourself. Over time you will build the capacity to make healthier choices, in all three pillars. Physical, Mental and Emotional. Trying to build a great body with a Mental or Emotional State that does not allow you to grow is a fool’s errand. Your best shape (EVER) requires alignment across all of these states and yes, it will require you to get out of your comfort zone – physically, mentally and emotionally.

So, be honest about where you start, declare a goal that you are emotionally connected to, enlist support, start now and start small. Then develop regular practices that will take you towards your desired end point.


Sari Marsden: Co-founder of Sarius Performance International and co-author of “Fit To Lead”.
Sari is a PCC certified Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, elite trainer with Nike+ Training Club and a Championship winning Fitness Physique Competitor for Team Singapore.

To further explore the possibility of taking your leadership and/or your performance to a new level, contact us at

Instagram @sarisarius




The Importance of Protein in an Active Lifestyle

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I think by this stage almost everyone knows that they ‘need’ protein, but in my lectures and workshops I still get questions like, “but won’t protein make me bulky?”, or, “won’t eating too much protein give me big muscles?”. And while most of us know that we do need to be eating ‘enough’ protein, less know how much ‘enough’ is and why it’s important!

What is it?
Protein quite simply is the building block of most of the structures in the body. ‘Protein’ is the name given to groupings of amino acids. Protein is broken down to these amino acids which are then used to create enzymes, muscle tissue, bone matrix and many other structural components of the body. All cells require protein.

Quick Fact: Over 98% of ALL the cells in your body are replaced every year!

Why do we Need it?
It helps us to become and remain lean! Protein has a higher ‘thermic effect of feeding’ (TEF) rating than either carbohydrates or fat. This means that when a higher proportion of your diet is protein your metabolic rate (and consequently fat loss) is going to be higher.

Improved Lean Body Mass
An optimal protein intake will allow us to maintain a higher lean body mass. This helps to give us the lean, fit looking physique that many desire (but not ‘bulky’!) whilst also improving metabolic rate further and helping to decrease fat stores and maintain leanness.

Improved Alertness and Focus
Amino acids supply the raw material for the excitatory neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, nor-epinephrine and dopamine. When we do not have enough of these amino acids we are more likely to suffer mental fatigue and physical fatigue.

Bone Structure and Health
Protein provides the matrix for bone and connective tissue. Ample protein helps to provide the structure for healthy bones!

How Much do we Need?
The recommended daily intake (RDA) for protein is based on the activity level of sedentary individuals and is measured by looking at the amount of protein taken in and compared with the amount excreted. It is approximately 0.8 grams per kilo of bodyweight.

What the RDA Doesn’t Take into Account
RDA and DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) are ‘necessary’ amounts for baseline health. In other words – survival. But the optimal amounts we need in order to thrive may be much different!

As long ago as 1975 Gontzea et al have shown that a level of 1.5grams per day per kilo of bodyweight were insufficient when exercise was undertaken and other studies have shown that Tour de France athletes were only able to maintain a positive nitrogen balance at an intake of 1.8g per kilo per day.

Levels up to 3g per kg bodyweight per day (over 3 x the RDA) have been demonstrated to increase lean body mass, reduce fat mass and improve performance.

Most people will do well to get at least the RDA level with additional protein if and when able but overall quantity should be less important though, than eating good quality protein consistently.

The key ‘take home’ point is to eat quality protein at every meal.

Examples of Good Clean Green Plant Based Sources Would be

  • Sprouted lentils, chick peas or mung beans
  • Nuts or seeds (almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds)
  • Tempeh or other fermented protein foods.
  • One 25g serve of Clean Lean Protein provides 22g of high quality protein.