With the new year upon us, I’ve been thinking a lot about new year’s resolutions. So many people “resolve” to lose weight or get in shape or fit into a bikini by some arbitrary date (think beach vacation). Gym memberships skyrocket, and the gym is nuts for about two weeks before people start to fade away from those resolutions. Why are resolutions so short-lived? What makes them fail? Is it that people really don’t want to be healthy? I believe it’s that they don’t know how.
Sure, you can just go to the gym and exercise or eat healthy, but do you know what that means? What does it entail? How often do you have to go to the gym to lose weight, get in shape, or fit into a bathing suit? What exercises do you do? As for eating, what does it mean to eat healthy? Do you have to eat a salad every day? Do you have to skip wine and desserts or an occasional drink or two out with friends? Do you have to subsist on smoothies or some meal replacement drink? (No, of course not!)
While I’m not a “new year’s resolution expert,” I’ve identified a few steps to help you reach your goals for the new year (or whenever you decide to take the next step).
Set realistic and specific goals. A goal of “getting in shape” is a bit arbitrary. How do you know when you reach it? Instead, be specific. Do you want to have more energy to keep up with your child when he or she is bike riding, or do you want to do five pull-ups? Do you want to lower your blood pressure, or to stop having sugar cravings? Do you want to fit into a dress or bathing suit you wore five years ago? Be realistic with yourself. The weight didn’t come on overnight, and it won’t come off overnight either. Be honest with yourself if you are willing to work to get where you want to be.
Establish small steps to reach your goals. Once you decide you are willing to make changes, identify small steps and incremental goals to get where you want to be. When working one on one with a client as a nutrition coach, I help him or her identify small incremental habits (one at a time) that he or she can take to reach a goal. This not only helps you reach a goal, but once a behavior becomes a habit, it’s more likely that you will maintain your goal as well.
Get help. Whether you hire a physical trainer or a nutrition coach or some other “health” expert, you need to learn the best ways to reach your goal. And even if you know what you should be doing or eating, a coach can help keep you accountable and make sure you stay on track.
Establish an effective support network. An effective support network may be the coach or trainer you hire, but it may also be your family or friends. You want to surround yourself with people who want to help you reach your goals, not someone who is going to sabotage your efforts by filling the house with junk food or asking for your help during your scheduled gym time.
Find what you enjoy. If you hate running on the treadmill, don’t make running on the treadmill a critical step in achieving your goal. Find what you enjoy and stick to it. You’ll be more likely to succeed and then to maintain your achievement if you love what you do.
Did you make a new year’s resolution this year? How do you plan to achieve it? Share your thoughts and experiences with me!