Plain and simple, why not start NOW?
The first week in December has already come and gone, and that means the new year will be right around the corner. This is always a time when people set lofty health goals, work hard for several weeks, and then give in to the difficulty of changing their lives dramatically to achieve them. During this time of year, I always preach to look at it as marathon training, not a sprint. We don’t just run the race and expect to do well, but start training slowly and gradually progress each week. That is very difficult in a society where we want results yesterday, but if done properly you will see the benefits not only for 2015, but for the years to come.
Where do I start?
It’s essential to have some kind of baseline before setting goals. If we set goals without even know where we currently are, what’s the point? Get a piece of paper and write down some things like: how often do you currently exercise, what’s your weight, what’s your body fat percentage, what’s your resting heart rate, are you in pain from a previous injury, how would you rate your stress levels, are you happy, what does happiness look like to you, how many servings of fruits and vegetables do you consume, etc. Start getting an idea of what your life looks like, because then we can see the areas that need to change. Oftentimes, I hear people say they want to lose 20lbs in 3 months. For some this may be a good goal, but for others we are just throwing a number out there and hoping that while being 20lbs lighter we will instantly be happier.
Now that you have a list of values or ideas which represent the current you, which of those affect you the most on a daily basis? It would be great to work towards improving all of them, but realistically 2-3 goals is sufficient to start without getting side tracked and not achieving any of them due to overload. Instead of picking weight loss, pick the one’s that break weight loss down into smaller components, like drinking more water, eating more vegetables, staying away from sugary drinks, etc. Finding manageable goals is the key to success. Even if those goals seem small, the victory of accomplishing them can often be big and yield pretty impressive results, not to mention the habits you are building towards a new lifestyle.
Change starts with a plan
Our next step is to develop a plan. By now you should have 2-3 realistic goals laid out which effect you on a daily basis. This is where the marathon analogy comes in. Most people say I’m not eating fast food anymore when they currently eat it 5 times per week. This is not realistic and will surely lead to failure. If that example fits you, only eat out 3-4 times per week, and try to replace those 1-2 meals with a homemade meal. Notice I didn’t get too particular or challenging with that plan. Even a poor quality homemade meal will provide your body with more nutrients than a fast food meal, and we are starting to show ourselves that cooking isn’t so bad. Do you drink 4 cokes per day? Try drinking only 2-3 and start carrying around a water bottle with you. The idea is that every few weeks to a month you will start to make these actions actual habits and they become part of your normal routine. Once you feel you have accomplished that small change and feel comfortable with it, you can plan to do something else to work towards a better you. Eventually, you will scratch off your current goals completely and move on to your next 2-3 goals. That’s when you develop your next plan of action.
I hope this post helps you get started towards those trouble New Year’s resolutions. Stop looking at them as something that has to be accomplished right this second. Goals must turn into habits which turn into results, but not without a solid plan in place. I encourage you to write things down. What are your goals, and what are you doing to achieve them? Were you successful the past week, and if not, what got in the way? By seeing things laid out honestly in front of you is often an much needed eye opener. We tend to not want to believe we are failing to accomplish what we were so passionate about, so a little honesty can go a long way. Please leave some feedback below if this post has helped you start planning for success. I’d love to hear your opinion or personal story of what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past. Goodluck in 2015!
P.S. I am offering complimentary 30-minute consultations through January for those who have questions or need advice on creating an actionable plan towards their health goals.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART