Building Stronger Resolutions

We’re back after a little holiday hiatus that involved lots of travel and plenty of time with friends and family to make it all worth it. I hope you all had a fantastic holiday and a happy New Year!

So you have survived the holidays, however there is one more challenge to face:  trying to come up with a resolution for the new year. Anyone with a healthy knowledge of themselves, knows there is always room for improvement.  Many who are into fitness are constantly creating mini goals for improvement throughout the year, but kicking off the new year is always the biggest one.

Coming up with a resolution is often as difficult as actually executing it.  It is all too easy to get caught up in the cliché goals that we see on social media or television ads.  These are often just cheap marketing gimmicks to get you to buy some product that, deep down, you know won’t help you towards your goals.  

These are often vague such as “lose weight”, “drink less”, “exercise more” or “find a new job”.  These are not goals, these are desires. They can, however, point you in the right direction. A goal or resolution needs to be more specific.

This brings us to what the fitness world are calls “SMART” goals.  The idea behind a SMART goal is that it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound.  Phrasing your goals using this framework allows you to chart a path towards achieving them.

Let’s dissect this by using one of the examples above.  Say your goal is to exercise more. This goal is so vague that you could simply exercise 5 extra minutes once and you have achieved it.  On the other hand, if you currently exercise two days a week, you can rephrase your goal to say “jog three days per week.”

You also want to consider why and what type of exercise you want to do more of.  This will give you better direction in achieving your goal.  Say you want to have greater endurance when playing with your children.  This goal now becomes both specific and measurable: “jog three days a week for 20 minutes per session to improve cardiovascular health.”  You now have a reason behind your goal that will encourage you, and you will be able to measure your improvement through changes in resting heart rate and the ability to exercise for longer durations.

Another big hurdle towards successfully achieving your goals are whether they are attainable.  The only thing worse than an overly vague goal is one that is so far out of reach you will become discouraged after only a few weeks.  For example, if the only times you are able to make it to the gym to exercise are Monday, Wednesday and Friday during your lunch break, it does not make sense to set the goal of exercising five days a week rather than three.  This would be neither attainable nor realistic. Rather, start with the goal of exercising three days a week and when you have successfully done that for one month add an additional day.

On a side note, this gives you the opportunity to continuously revisit your goals and find ways to challenge yourself.  After two or three months of exercising for three days a week, it will start to feel like more of a habit. At this point you can add another day on if you are able to rework your schedule to allow for it.  Remember, you still want to challenge yourself!

This is where having a time bound goal comes into play.  You need to build opportunities for progress into your resolution.  You may not be able to start with your goal right off the bat, rather, you will need to work your way up to it.  The first week of January you may only be able to jog for 15 minutes 2 days per week. Then the second week you would want to increase to 15 minutes for 3 days per week until finally by the end of January you have achieved your goal of jogging 20 minutes for 3 days per week.

This goal is meant to improve your life for the entire year, right?  Now you want to focus on how you want to progress once you have reached your goal.  Let’s say when you reach your goal of jogging 20 minutes per day 3 days a week you are able to move at a speed of 5.5 with 0 incline.  You want to build into your goal the target of increasing your speed to 6.05 (a 10% increase) within a month of reaching your initial goal.  This will allow you to continue progressing and prevent you from plateauing.

That may all seem complicated and drawn out, but you now have a goal of “exercising three days per week for 45 minutes to improve cardiovascular health by increasing the workload by 10% each month.”

Let’s use another example of “eating healthier.”  This is as vague as they come as eating “healthy” can mean slightly different things for each person.  So let’s make it a SMART goal. “I will eat more vegetables every day by increasing my portion size at dinner to two fist sizes, then I will incorporate the same portion size into my lunch.”

Once you’ve set your goal it is now time to make it a reality.  If you have included all aspects of a SMART goal, you will have a better grasp on how to move forward, as we have now built the steps into the goal.

My biggest advice for fitness and diet goals is not being afraid to ask for help.  Most of what we are able to find through research on the internet is not catered to the individual person.  Finding a personal trainer or coach can be the best way to make sure you have a plan that is catered to your individual goals, rather than umbrella diets that claim to work for everyone.

This is huge in terms of motivation and accountability.  It can be difficult to keep moving forward when you do not have someone rooting for you and holding you to your goals.  This can be as simple as weekly or daily check-ins to make sure you are sticking to your plan and providing motivation tips when you are having trouble.  We’ve all be in a situation where there is a much more fun option than going to the gym, but learning to incorporate fitness into your daily life habits will make it easier to make the right choice.

This goes for dieting goals as well.  The stereotype is that to be fit and lose weight you are restricted to potatoes, rice and chicken breast.  Sound boring? That’s because it is. My time working as a chef has given me the experience to ensure that healthy and flavorful meals are not mutually exclusive.  I push people to get creative with their cooking while still maintaining a healthy diet.

Resolutions and goals that require a lifestyle change are difficult to take from daily struggle to habit.  It takes time and a lot of effort, but at the end of the day, you will be happier and healthier with the body, mind and lifestyle you have created.  Email us at cmpretraining@gmail.com if you are looking for individualized exercise programming, creative and healthy meal ideas or even just that extra bit of motivation to get you out the door and to the gym!

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