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As this year begins, many of us are looking for the next step in our progression through life. New gym members flood our familiar space, cookies fill our shelves and the post-holiday blues drag us down.
Fret not dear readers, because you can win this new year wellness game. Do you know how? Well, you set the rules.
Why are you playing
Many of us want to look like fitness models and celebrities. The truth is that these people have genetic gifts and/or strong discipline.
On my path to personal wellness, I have tried many “diets” exercise plans and read A LOT! The resounding lesson I have learned from all of that work is consistency and the path to success lies with the destination.
With that sentiment in mind…why are you reading this? Why do you want to do or be (insert goal here)? Look deep into yourself and determine your goals…short term, long term and everywhere in between.
The importance of setting goals is to be REAL WITH YOURSELF! If you want 6-pack abs tomorrow and you don’t already have a 4 pack…probably not going to happen…tomorrow.
Also, ask yourself, why do I want those abs? Is it for yourself or others? Look into the mirror, take a deep breath and search your soul for the answer.
Life changes NOT fads
In the present, I guarantee there is some diet that is common and trendy. You probably have friends or family members with a success story. I think that is great! However, you are not THEM, you are the unique and wonderful YOU!
Different dietary and fitness changes vary pending on your genetics and the environment you have been surrounded by for your whole life. Some factors are changeable, some are not.
This means that the fad diets your friend or colleague is doing may not work for you. I do think experimentation with different changes is important, but if you ping pong in your diets, you can potentially cause irreversible metabolic damage.
Rather than being on a honey and cayenne pepper diet, losing weight and crashing. Start with small wins and make overall changes to the way that you eat and live. This will impact those long-term goals you are after.
Note that the goals also fit into many categories, the most common of which include nutrition, fitness, recovery, and play. Choose goals in each category, write them down and get to work.
Set Goals for:
Nutrition, Fitness, Recovery, and Play
Goals should be measurable
In the scientific community, we turn things that are opinion-based (subjective) into things with less outside opinions (bias). The most common way to do so is by adding a measurable result, or “objective result.” For instance; you want to “lose weight.” A more measurable outcome may be; “I want to lose 2 lbs.” Setting these more measurable goals allows you to achieve them, then move onto the next one.
The alternative is “lose weight” (subjective). You may perceive the amount differently pending your mood and the surrounding circumstances. Then, if you don’t lose the amount of weight you had subjectively in your head, you will be discouraged and stop. If you write down loose 2 lbs in one month and you do it, or if you lose more, you will check your goal and move onward!
Next, it is useful to assign a timeline to these goals.
Keeping with our example of weight loss;
Say “I want to lose 2 lbs/month for the next 6 months”
Instead of “I want to lose 2 lbs.”
The difference is in your motivation, ie. no deadline versus some deadline.
I do not want you to stress yourself out, but if you set a timeline, this will give you just the right amount of pressure to perform, which will again spur you onward. See the curve below.
Setting measurable goals allows you to build momentum, attain the goal and this is the key to consistency.
KEEP a journal or track these goals with tech
Set Objective Metrics
Fat percent, lbs, volume weight, Cal, etc.
Short Term Goals (1-6 months), Intermediate Goals (6-12 months), Long Term Goals (12 months-Life)
What are you after?
BIG PICTURE, keep in mind WHAT you are measuring. Your healthcare provider may stress weight and BMI to you. Yes, this is generally a good marker, however not the end-all-be-all.
For instance, when I started on my journey, I weighed 150 lbs, ran 8 miles every other day and ate 1200 Cal/day. Technically, my BMI was 22 (normal) and my weight was fine. I was conventionally healthy but was not happy with my overall fitness.
When I started lifting, doing HITT and eating more food of better quality, I am now 175 lbs, BMI 26.6 which is technically overweight. This weight is a muscle, as my fat composition went down and my fitness went upward (measured by performance in the gym).
Instead of worrying about weight and BMI, my metrics for success were in fat percent (easily measurable via scales, calipers, and other devices) and performance (weight x reps x sets = volume).
Now, I continue on my path to #maximalbeing and set my own goals for success, which I continue to track and work on. Research the context of each goal and if they are relevant for you.
Be Kind and Unwind
The last piece of this motivational puzzle is the humanity of it all. We all make mistakes. We all want to eat pizza every now and then. We all want that glass of bubbly to celebrate a big event.
It is okay to pick one day a week to relax, unbutton your pants and breathe. Taking breaks and holidays from your regimens allows the mental flexibility and again, will allow you to stay on track the remaining 6 days. Enjoy your lazy Sunday, a slice of pizza, just stick to the plan the rest of the time.
Though New Year’s goals are often put down for lack of consistency, setting goals as a general practice is a way of working on your path to #maximalbeing. Make the goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. Know the context or meaning behind each goal and are they truly relevant to you (ex. weight). Make these goals lifestyle changes and not crash diets, #maximalbeing is an epic journey, not a sprint.