This is often a frustrating time of year for many. It’s common to start off optimistic and have your optimism slowly fade as things don’t happen exactly as you envisioned. Here are 6 tips to ensure a successful start to 2014. Just remember, there’s no better day than today to improve yourself in some way.
1. Find the deeper meaning
What are your goals? Why are those goals important to you? Have you ever thought deeper behind your health goals? So many people say they want to lose weight, run a marathon, and increase muscle mass, but why do these things really matter to you? The most important starting point in any health & wellness program is to find goals that you can tie to an emotional response. Once we have this emotional connection, we increase the chance of success because we truly have a desire to make changes in our lives.
2. Write things down
I cannot stress enough about keeping up-to-date record of your goals, exercise program, nutrition, and progress. One thing that drives me crazy is people who work out and never record a single weight or number of repetitions completed. We live in a society where we often stay within our comfort zone, so keep record of everything that goes into achieving your goals. After weeks to months, reflect on your progress. Are you where you expected to be? If not, review your notes and see where you can make changes for better results. Recording nutrition will often yield great results since we tend to think we eat better than we actually do. Once we have it on paper and it’s plain to see, the truth is easier to see.
3. Start small
When creating your goals don’t get carried away. There’s no shame in starting small and achieving those goals first. Once we begin achieving our goals, no matter how small, we become more motivated to continue moving forward in a positive direction. It almost gives you that feeling like, “Okay, I can do this!” Start small, ensure success, and repeat.
4. Be realistic
This really goes hand in hand with #3. Some common new year’s goals, especially when it comes to weight loss, are pretty lofty. I’m not saying to not set those ‘lose 40lbs’ goals, but let’s be real about it. If you are starting from scratch and haven’t been eating well or exercising in a while, maybe it would be more realistic to say, “I’m going to meet with a personal trainer once a week, improve my nutrition, exercise 3x a week, and try to lose 10lbs in 2 months.” Now, that sounds a little better. There are several parts to that goal that are definitely achievable and not just ‘lose 40lbs.’ By meeting with a personal trainer, improving nutrition, and exercising daily, you are in turn making the necessary steps to lose weight. Don’t worry about setting that lofty goal, but break it down and be realistic.
5. Be held accountable
This is huge. I’ll tell you firsthand that if I don’t write down my exercise program and record my workouts, I am a slacker. To be held accountable you need to either record your progress very closely or find someone who will continue to push you when you want to give in. This could be a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, friend, co-worker, or a family member. Anyone that doesn’t mind being a little pushy once in a while to give you a kick in the butt in a positive way. Remember, we can only get so far alone. But, with someone else to push us along the way, chances of success are significantly increased.
6. It’s a marathon, not a sprint
I think one big reason so many people give up after a few weeks is because they don’t see those quick results that everyone wants. If you believe in those infomercials that preach only 15 minutes a week, or taking a single pill, you are very mistaken. Achieving your health goals is a lifelong process that takes serious commitment. The key is baby steps over a lifetime. Don’t focus only on a specific number, but work hard to be better today than you were yesterday. If you continually do the small things day in and day out, you will get to your desired goal.
Best of luck to each of you in 2014. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding health & wellness. Take it one day at a time, and stay in it for the long haul.
Garrett McLaughlin is an Athletic Trainer and Personal Trainer in Nashville, TN. He creates personal training and injury rehabilitation programs for the general population and athletes. Garrett is passionate about not only working one-on-one with clients, but educating them on health & wellness so they can continue making positive choices throughout their lives. Contact Garrett with questions or to schedule a session.