http://www.dictionary.com/ defines fitness as; the state or condition of being physically sound and healthy, especially as the result of exercise and proper nutrition. Now what I would like to point here is the part that says; especially as the result of exercise and proper nutrition, the reason I am emphasizing this is because these are the factors that we have the most control over and that we should spend the most time making improvements on. However there are factors that can affect our level of fitness that are outside the realm of our control, the biggest and most obvious being genetics. That is not to say that if we have certain genetic predispositions to disease or other chronic health issues that there is nothing we can do and it would be a waste of our time to even pursue any increased level of fitness, because no matter what your current fitness level or current health issues are you can ALWAYS, and I do mean ALWAYS, increase your level of fitness and better your health.
Now that we know what fitness is, and we know that we can always improve our level of fitness, how do we go about doing this? The first step is to ascertain what your current level of fitness is and there are many different ways to go about this. The easiest way would be to go to your local gym, purchase a training session with a personal trainer and ask them to assess you current level of fitness. They will probably use several different tests to do this, such as the sit and reach test for flexibility, the push up and or the sit-up test for muscular strength/endurance, the step up test or the YMCA bike test for cardio and or VO2max, the list goes on and on. However you may not be comfortable having someone judging, scoring or quantifying your current level of fitness, so in that case having a personal trainer proctor these tests may not be the best approach for you. There are other ways to do this as well, for example many of the newer cardio machines that you will find at your local gym have fitness tests programmed into them, these different tests will not only allow you to gauge your current level of fitness but also keep track of your progress by taking the same test periodically and compairing the scores.
In addition to the tests and methods listed above you will also want to look at your body composition/BMI, your diet, your stress level, your typical mood, how much you drink, if you smoke or not, and how active you are on a daily basis, because all these things factor in to your overall level of fitness and health. For example how fit are you really if you score well on these tests but you drink excessively and smoke? To obtain a true understanding of your current level of fitness you need to look at all aspects of your life not just your activity level or your diet, although these are important factors that contribute to your overall level of health and fitness.
When trying to better your health and fitness you should do it step by step, bit by bit, this is a lifelong process not something that will be accomplished in one fast and feverish session of goal setting. The best way to go about doing this is to make consistent, well advised, health and fitness conscious choices as frequently as possible in your day to day life. This does not mean that you can never eat cake and ice cream again or that if you skip a workout you will start right back at GO and completely undo all your hard work and progress. Simply put, you just want to make more good choices than bad choices and you want to make more good choices than you did the day before. If you follow this protocol I have no doubt in my mind that you will be well on your way to improving your health and fitness.