Wrapping paper is filling your trash cans, the eggnog in the fridge is almost gone, and the number on the scale has somehow jumped far higher than anticipated, despite your best efforts. It’s a brand new year, a clean slate.
So what are you going to do now?
Sure, it’s a bit cliché to set New Year’s Resolutions, and even more cliché to say you want to lose weight. Then again, it IS a great time to start fresh with a new plan and a hopeful outlook. This could be the year that you finally achieve your goals; the year you finally DO what you always say you’re going to try. This is your year for Renewal.
But how? Weight is one of the top resolutions every new year – probably because most people never achieve it.
As you begin to think about this year and your weight loss and body transformation goals, here are some simple tips for how to set goals that will set you up for success:
1) WHAT specifically do you want to achieve? Write it down.
Decide what your goals are and don’t be vague or overly complicated. Don’t pick too many goals that may contradict each other. Don’t just say you want to lose weight – define a number that will make you feel good; something big, yet attainable.
Even if you have 50 pounds to lose, that can feel unattainable and overwhelming, so start with “Lose 10 pounds by the end of March”. This number is smaller and attainable, has a deadline to keep you motivated, and is not arbitrary. You can safely lose one pound per week, so if you start week one of January, you could actually be down eight pounds by the beginning of March.
Or perhaps you want to run a 5k. Great. Focus on that, not on gaining muscle, so you can train and eat accordingly. Training for endurance is different than how you eat and train to gain muscle or lose fat, so focus on endurance so you can run your best race. Even better, plan to run a 5k by April in under 30 minutes. Be specific and write it down so that every day you have a goal to work toward.
2) HOW are you going to get there?
Don’t set a goal and then just hope your best efforts will get you there. Has that worked for you yet? No? Then it probably won’t work this year either. Did you jot down a goal to “eat better”? Uh oh. I’ve never seen a client, or myself, lose weight quickly or easily with “I’m trying to eat better”. As I was reminded by my Star Wars-obsessed, Yoda-quoting nephews this Christmas, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Eat better is too vague. Instead, come up with a plan. You can get help creating a meal plan for you to know exactly how many calories, carbs, protein, fats, and sugars you should be eating to take the guesswork out. Or over one week, write down everything you eat. Then average out how many calories you’re eating per day to determine how many to cut or add (and yes, you may actually need to ADD calories because you’re eating so little that your metabolism has slowed so far down to help you survive that you’re holding onto every ounce of fat). Then look at what healthy foods will help you stay within your numbers.
For instance, “I will eat two eggs and oatmeal every morning, cut out sugary cereals, eat an organic turkey sandwich for lunch, and chicken and veggies for dinner. On Saturday, I will have a cheat meal.” This will help you grocery shop for the right foods, meal plan, and prevent eating according to your mood, which often leads to fatty and sugary comfort foods that pack on pounds.
Or it may be as simple as “eat breakfast every morning within 30 minutes of waking up” or “Run 15 minutes every day.” Baby steps are okay, as long as you have a plan every day to get you to your destination rather than just hoping for the best and never getting there.
3) WHY haven’t you reached your goals yet?
Sure, New Year’s goals are a great idea and sound wonderful, but how many years have you fallen off the wagon? No shame, we’ve all done it. And there are reasons we’ve done it. It’s time to find out why. If you never address your obstacles or areas of weakness, you’ll never be able to renew your mind and body for the long term. Who cares if you lose 5 pounds in January if by May you’ve gained it all back? Quick fixes and band-aids don’t work.
A few years ago I had to look at why I wasn’t achieving my physical goals despite my efforts at the gym, and most often it was late night comfort snacking. A need to feel in control by actually relaxing and not controlling my impulses was a bad habit that took many forms from college on. Whether it was large amounts of healthy snacks like trail mix, or three too many servings of chocolate, or 1-2 glasses of wine, I got in a comfortable routine with foods I loved that provided stability and a sense of both control and relaxation. Now I know I have to be careful that I don’t allow myself to fall into habits of nighttime eating, or replace them with something like drinking tea. That has made a profound impact on my weight and ability to maintain weight loss.
Maybe your “why” is something like this:
-You’re intimidated by the gym or you can’t afford a membership, so you don’t go. No problem, but can you workout at home?
-No time to workout? I bet you do have time, but it’s not a priority. We always find time for priorities. If it’s not a priority, why not? Take some time to think through why your health or self-confidence are important to you, and remind yourself of those things. Do you find time to watch TV with your children? Then replace TV watching with an after-dinner family walk, or tossing a football outside. Or maybe your lack of self-confidence is affecting your marriage. Would feeling stronger and more energetic improve things? Would 10 less pounds decrease jealousy or make you feel more attractive to your spouse?
Yep, we’re getting real.
-Maybe you just feel tired and starting all over with fitness makes you feel discouraged. Do you miss being athletic and have trouble facing the fact that you’re just not capable of the same things anymore? Remind yourself that it’s never too late to start or to reach your goals. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll feel better. The body can change and adapt in amazing ways, and your fear of feeling less significant or unable might just go away within a few weeks. You can keep waiting and stay where you are, or you can start now and look back in a few months, grateful that you chose to take a step and have moved forward.
Renew Your Life
Keep these “Whats” “Hows” and “Whys” in front of you. Post them on your bathroom mirror, or at your office, so that when you’re lacking motivation (which will happen) you have something of substance to remind yourself to keep going and why you’re doing this. Remind yourself that you’re capable of more than you think.
This year, it’s time to renew your mind and how you think about fitness. It’s time to renew your strength and transform your body. It’s time to renew your life. You can do it, and I’m here to help.