Many of us at one time or another make a promise to ourselves to achieve some kind of health related goal especially at the beginning of a new year. From losing weight, to lifting more weight, to eating healthier; we often fail to follow through with our goals and become discouraged simply after a few weeks of trying. You start the year off by exercising on a daily basis, you change your eating habits, or you simply change your way of thinking to become more positive. However, these habits only last for a few weeks and then you go back to your old ways of thinking, eating, and lying on the couch.
I’ve been a personal trainer for over 25 years and every year I have seen people with the greatest intentions of making healthy, positive changes to their body only to see it come crashing down on them a few weeks into a brand new year. Are you one of those people who start off with great intentions but never follow through with your New Year resolutions or goals? Do you feel that when you create good intentions of making yourself healthier, you too often fail and get discouraged? If so, you will want to continue reading as I have some tips to help you create a more positive life for yourself in 2016 and how not to fall into the same trap you have followed in previous years.
So how do you change bad habits? Well, you have to be SMART with your goal setting and this five-step process will guide you in the direction you have been waiting for. Before you read on, I want you to grab a piece of paper and a pen. Don’t use your computer (you can keep a copy of your goals on your computer as a back-up) as I will tell you why at the end of this exercise.
If you’re not familiar with the term SMART, you will find out about it soon. First of all, the word SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevance, and Time-Framed. It’s basically a goal-setting tool that personal trainers use with their clients to set short and long-term goals. So grab your paper and pen and let’s get started.
1. Specific – Your goal should be clear and easy to understand.
• Something like ‘I want to get healthy’ or ‘I want to eat healthier’ is too general as they are many ways to get healthy like exercising, changing your food habits, or quit smoking. If you break the goal down, it will be easier to manage. For example, use a goal like, I want to lose 50 lbs or I want to train for my first marathon.
• If you have more than one goal, then keep each goal on a different page.
2. Measurable – Tracking your progress.
• You need to know your numbers. If you keep track of your budget on a monthly or yearly basis and how much you spend, you need to know how much you make and it’s no different with fitness goals. Keeping track of how you are going to lose your weight or train for your first marathon is so important. You need to put numbers to your goal.
• If you’re goal is to lose weight, how much total weight do you want to lose? Write it down. How much weight per week do you want to lose? Write it down, how much weight per month do you want to lose? Write it down.
3. Attainable – Outline specific steps that will enable you to complete your goal.
• What do you need to do to reach your goal?
• If your goal is to lose weight than put in writing how many calories you need to burn and how many calories you need to consume to keep your weight loss goal in check. Determine which foods you will need to eat and give up altogether.
• Write down which activities you will be doing such as running, an aerobics class, weight training, etc.
• Determine your timeline to when you want to accomplish the goal. If your goal is to lose weight, write down how much you want to lose each week or each month.
4. Relevance – Set goals that are important in your life right now.
• Don’t let other people dictate what your goals should be.
• Don’t compare yourself to other people and their goals. Your goals should be as unique as you.
• Determine how your goal will help you. If you just want to lose weight for something to do but it’s not the right time to do this, (ie. you are too busy or have too many things going on in your life) then you need to re-examine your goal.
• Determine your why. What I mean by this, is ask yourself ‘why am I doing this’? Be honest with yourself.
• Be motivated by your goals.
5. Time-Framed– Set deadlines to keep you on track.
• Look at your calendar and choose a date to when you want to accomplish your goal.
• Keep track of your accomplishments and set ‘mini-goals’ along the way to ensure that you keep on track throughout the weeks, months, and the year.
• I generally tell people to choose a date and work backwards from that date. So if your goal is to run a marathon, choose a race, and work backwards from the date so you can put together a training program. If you goal is to lose 50 lbs by June, then you can work backwards from that date and break down the weight loss week by week or by every month.
• WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN ON PAPER.
Reward yourself with sticking with your goals. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight and you have kept on track with it, reward yourself with a day at the spa or go shopping for a new outfit or even try that new yoga class. Sometimes we feel we have to reach the end goal first before we can celebrate. Instead, celebrate the small successes for a job well done. We are often too hard on ourselves if we don’t reach our goals on time. If you get off track, don’t worry about it, and know that you can continue with your progress.
Click below to your SMART goal template.
‘The body achieves what the mind believes’. This is one of my favourite quotes as our thoughts become reality. Life gets in the way sometimes and we get off track from trying to obtain our fitness goals. I see it happen all too often and when people don’t reach their goal weight, don’t fit into the size they want, or don’t reach their race time, they give up and get very down on themselves. We can’t always control what happens in our life but we can choose on how we react to life situations. This is why we tell our clients to celebrate the small successes of losing 1lb, or finishing your first spin class, or lifting a heavier weight. When you think of when you first started and how far you’ve come, it puts a different perspective on things. Enjoy the journey of making your life better not just for yourself, but for the people around you. You are setting a great example for other people to get fit and make their bodies healthier. Remember this, people will look up to you for the positive changes you are making in your life. Set an example for others.
I mentioned at the beginning to write your goals down on piece of paper. The reason why I ask people to do this is so that you can keep your goals with you at all times. If your piece of paper is in your wallet, purse, or simply kept it in your coat pocket, it’s a reminder every time you pull it out to look at it. The more you think about your goals, the better chance you have at reaching them. Place your goals right beside your laptop or computer at work so every day when you’re on your computer, you will see your list. Place your goals on your refrigerator or on your night stand beside your bed. Make your goals are the first thing you see every morning and the last thing you see before you go to bed. Changing old habits and behaviours is hard work but using the SMART principle will help you achieve long-term success.
Know that you were born AWESOME and you can achieve ANYTHING! If 2015 was a crazy year, then know that next year is all about YOU. 2016, let’s bring it ON!
Happy New Year everyone and see you in 2016! Join us in January for 30 days of blogs on fits & bites to get you into the best shape of your life.
Maureen & Art