It's that time of year again: time to review all that you've accomplished (or not) last year. If you're like me, you write down your ambitions for the upcoming year. Instead of setting "resolutions," I write out my "hopes" for year to come. I try to envision what my life, work, health, etc would look like a year from now if I had my druthers. I don't fantasize, I just set up realistic ideals for myself. Last year I reached a few of those hopes, and didn't a few others. And that's okay. What matters is that I set my intentions.
I've worked with clients for many years, and they inevitably come in early in January and are eager to get a jump start on their health/fitness goals. When I ask, "What can I help you accomplish this year?" I rarely get a solid, quantifiable goal. I most likely hear responses like, "Get fit," "Lose a few pounds," or "Be more active." What does that mean? How can I help someone "get fit.???" Losing a few pounds might mean losing 10 pounds of fat or gaining 10 of muscle, or both. How do I know? Does walking the dog daily count as "being more active?" I don't know.
The point is, you can't reach a goal if you don't set one. Here are some more actionable and quantifiable options:
Lose 3 inches around my waist.
Be able to do 5 pull-ups.
Run 3 miles without pain or stopping.
Walk for 4 miles 3x/week at a 20min/mile pace.
Eat 4 cups of green leafy vegetables per day.
Be in bed with lights off for at least 8 hours every night.
These are all things for which I can help someone map out a plan. You can set calendar alarms, put programs together, and measure!!
The other thing I recommend is that you set a timeline for achieving your goals. This way you get things rolling while the momentum is in place. If I look at my work calendar for each of my client's start dates, most are mid-Spring. Why? It has nothing to do with the groundhog, and everything to do with setting unrealistic, unquantifiable, and inactionable goals. By March, many realize that they have yet to even start working on those resolutions and they decide it's time to enlist some assistance.
So, now I'm going to show you how to take the above actionable goals and put some structure around each:
Lose 3 inches around my waist. Due: April 1st. Plan: 30 min of moderate intensity bike riding or jogging 3x/week. 30 min weight training with friend/trainer with heavy enough weights to achieve fatigue (done 2x/week). No starch (potato, rice, cereal, pasta, etc) Mon-Fri.
Be able to do 5 pull-ups. Due: June 1st Plan: install pull-up bar at home. Do one unassisted attempt 2x/day. At the gym 2x/week, use bands or assisted machine to do longer sets with less weight. Look up pull-up progression plan on YouTube.
Run 3 miles without pain or stopping. Due: May 1st. Plan: Read the top 2 or 3 running books on Amazon. Get a gait assessment at my local running store or trainer. Start with one mile, and feel what needs improvement. Run on a soft trail outdoors 2x/week. Do walk/run sprints for 60sec each on the treadmill 1x/week.
Walk for 4 miles 3x/week at a 20min/mile pace. Due: Feb 15th. Plan: Get a pedometer/activity tracker now to track my pace. Carve out the time on my calendar to do the 3x/week and set an alarm to remind me. Ask a friend to join me.
Eat 4 cups of green leafy vegetables per day. Due: Jan 31st. Plan: Take inventory of my currently daily consumption. Look online or in my cookbooks for new salad and vegetable prep ideas. Start measuring my intake and increasing daily. Cut back on starchier and more filling foods that won't allow me to reach this goal.
Be in bed with lights off for at least 8 hours every night. Due: Jan 31st. Plan: Talk with my partner to gain their support in this. Make note of what time I need to be up the next morning and set a reminder 9 hours before then to start winding down. Aim to have all work and non-relaxing deeds done by 2 hours prior to bedtime. Look into blackout curtains, blue-blocking glasses, and amber lights for the house to help bring down the energy at bedtime.
Do you see now how the above goals are so much easier to attain, measure progress, and feel good about your achievements? Granted, this is what I do for a living, so if you find that setting the plan, or even the date due are hard, reach out. I'd love be a little angel on your shoulder helping to coach you along the way to your success!!