Every year, over 100 million Americans make a New Year’s resolution. Here are the top 5 things we vow to do:
2. Get organized
3. Spend less, save more
4. Enjoy life to the fullest
5. Be fit and healthy
Two of the top 5 are directly related to health and fitness, and you could argue that better fitness and weight loss helps people enjoy life to the fullest, so we’ll say 3/5. Clearly lots of people are looking to improve the way they look, feel, and move! The unfortunate part is that only 8% of people will end up achieving what they set out to do on the first of the year. Hmm. What gives?
Well first of all, weight loss is tough! Developing new habits is no easy task, and losing weight requires a ton of changes to be made in your daily routine. So, how do we become one of the 8% of people who actually succeed?
First and foremost, we must set a goal. Losing weight may be a goal, but if on Dec 31, 2015 you are 1 pound lighter than you are today, will you feel satisfied? For most people, the answer is no. Most people who are looking to lose weight want to lose more than a pound a year!
I’m a big fan of the goal setting process know as “SMART” goals. You may have run into this process before and if so, here’s a refresher. To make goals worth attaining, they must be:
1. Specific-“losing weight” isn’t specific. “Buttoning my sexy pair of jeans” is.
2. Measureable-It’s difficult to determine whether you’re making improvements without a gauge of progress. This is where the scale (my least favorite measuring tool), measuring tape, body fat monitor, and before and after pics come into play.
3. Attainable-Let’s be honest. Everyone wants to have legs like Carrie Underwood and abs like Ryan Reynolds, but most of us won’t get there in 4 weeks. Make your goals reasonable and keep in mind the commitment you can make to them.
4. Relevant- Is this the right time to attack this goal? Is this goal worthwhile? Can I give it the required effort to succeed? All these questions must be considered. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure!
5. Time-bound- If our goal is to lose 10 lbs, is it ok if it happens 10 years from now or would you like to lose it before your niece’s wedding in two months? Give yourself a deadline, otherwise it will never happen.
With this 5-step process in place, our goal or resolution goes from ”I will lose weight this year” to “I will fit comfortably into my size 6 jeans by March 15th”.
The latter goal has a lot better chance of being attained!
Now that we have our goal in place, it is time to make a plan to get there. I like to have my clients create specific, action-oriented steps to keep them on track. These action steps help in your day-to-day quest for your goal. I’ve listed some examples based on the size 6-jean goal mentioned above.
Action step #1: I will shop every Sunday and Wednesday and meal prep every Monday and Thursday to ensure my meals are planned in advance.
Action step #2: I will limit my alcohol consumption for the week to 2 drinks on Saturday night.
Action step #3: I will move for at least 5 minutes everyday and dedicate Wednesday and Friday to my high intensity workout days.
Action step #4: I will put on my jeans every Sunday evening to see how I am progressing and remind myself of my goal.
There are 100 other action steps that I could have listed, but these are just some broad suggestions. I dedicated one each to nutrition, cheating, exercising, and a progress check. The key is that all of the action steps are specific and attainable. They aren’t crazy or unreasonable, which will ultimately make you frustrated, overwhelmed, and likely to quit. It’s better for the action step to be very easy and accomplished every time, than too difficult to every follow through with. Remember, weight loss and health are long-term processes that require habit change and patience. This stuff takes time!
So, before you finish reading this and go back to your hectic life, do yourself a favor. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Jot down a SMART goal for yourself based on the criteria I listed above. It doesn’t have to be related to weight loss or even health at all, but definitely can be. The point is to put down a goal that you are willing to work toward. Once you have that, spend the next few minutes thinking about what action steps you can take to help you get there (3 or 4 will do). Once you’ve done this (it should take about 10 minutes-the TV can wait), you are well on your way to achieving your goal and are in a better spot than 90% of Americans who set a resolution this January. Put the paper somewhere you’ll see everyday to keep you engaged. It’s probably also a great idea to tell a few close friends or family members what your goal is and how they can help you along. The bigger community you have to support you, the better.
Lastly, remember that working toward goals can, and should be fun! You should enjoy the process and challenge of becoming a better you. Getting healthy and feeling better should put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step!
If you need any help on goal setting, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help get you started on your way to success. Also, if you need a system to follow and a coach to hold you accountable, our online coaching program uses a proven system that guarantees results. It may be just what you need!