This is the time of year where there is a lot of talk about resolutions to lose weight, gain muscle, get in shape, tone up, get fit etc., etc., etc. There is also a lot of talk about "New Year, New You", which means exactly what? The problem is that all of this information is too vague and doesn't give the average individual, who wants to make positive changes with their health, any real direction. Don't get caught up in hype and catch phrases. Instead, start your New Year Resolution by setting some realistic goals.
Begin the process by taking time to think about what you really want to accomplish health wise. If, for example, you have resolved to lose 30 lbs. this year, you need to understand what it will take on your part to accomplish this. Regardless of what you are trying to accomplish, the tips below will give you a path to start.
- Ask yourself why you want to make this change and who you are doing it for.
- Write down a list of all the benefits you foresee with making this change and a list of costs (e.g., time, effort and money) that will be required to do so. If the balance swings in favor of the benefits, you are likely to stick with the program.
- Identify a support system. Find individuals of significance in your life who, will support your desire to change and perhaps even join you. Many people enjoy working out with friends, taking classes or hiring a trainer to help motivate them.
- Select some rewards for achieving major steps in your program. Recognize your achievements with treats such as a purchase, attending a function or even taking a trip. Such rewards will help you stay motivated during the beginning of your program.
- Visibly place prompts and cues that constantly remind you of the decision you made to change, and remove any stimuli that may trigger undesirable behaviors. For example, placing visible notes or keeping a workout bag accessible will prompt good behavior, while removing ice cream from the freezer may remove a negative stimulus.
When setting your goals you will need to set long term and short term goals. The long term goal is your main focus for the year with the short term goals supporting that focus. It's also best to use the SMART format for your goals. Make sure your goals are:
- Specific: Instead of “I want my fitness to improve,” try, “I want to reduce my resting heart rate by 5 beats.”
- Measurable: Take specific measurements from the start and check them on a regular schedule to see your progress. You can use weight, body measurements, body fat or resting heart rate as your source
- Attainable: Be realistic in what you can achieve. Achieving an attainable goal can motivate you to continue to improve well past a year.
- Relevant: Choose goals that you can fit in to your own lifestyle and even share with those around you.
- Time-bound: Create short-term checkpoints, which could be weekly or monthly, to monitor your progress
Throughout the process maintain patience and don't get discouraged. It's also important to be flexible. You may have to adjust your goals as you go through the process and there will be distractions and set-backs. And remember, true success is measured by your resolve and commitment.
For those of you who have made resolutions for this year, best of luck to you and Happy New Year.