As we welcome in a new year we begin to reflect on our lives and think about the improvements we can make to the year ahead.
Many of us have resolutions around health and fitness that are just blanket statements like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get fit”. Both of these goals are admirable, but they are vague, immeasurable and not at all action-oriented! How will you know when you’re fit? What does fitness look like to you? Is that even achievable given all that you have going on in your life? What sacrifices are you willing to make?
Succeeding with a Weight Loss Goal
If we were to analyse an above-mentioned goal we could say that yes, we can measure our body weight on the scales, so that is measurable. However, kilos alone don’t give us a view of the bigger picture. We might not see much change happening on the scales, but instead, notice a change in our body shape and composition. Can that also be measured?
Now, what action is required to make the weight loss happen? Most people tell me that weight loss doesn’t just happen, its something that you need to work on! So, what behaviour(s) do you need to change to lose weight? When we focus on the behaviour, we feel so much more in control.
So if one of your goals this year is to lose weight write this down:
I want to lose 5 kgs by March by focusing on the following behaviours:
- Walking for 30 min at least three times per week
- Eating at least 5 serves of veges daily
- Minimising consumption of foods not in line with my goal and values
- Increasing non-exercise activity time and reducing sedentary time
Succeeding with a Fitness Goal
What about the fitness goal? In each of our minds, we might find the ‘ideal fitness’ that we each aspire to – what does it look like to you? I bet most of the population would describe something like this:
- Being able to run a marathon
- Having a six-pack
- Having no body fat
Now, stop and think about that fitness ideal for you. Do you really think running a marathon is going to work for you? How about that six-pack? What about no body fat, how would you look? Some of us can pull it off, but there are far more who can’t. Don’t get me wrong here, if thinking about running a marathon excites you, go for it and don’t hold back, but if that idea fills you with dread, then we need to re-evaluate your fitness ‘ideal’.
Did you know that physical fitness is defined as:
The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies. Physical fitness includes a number of components consisting of cardiorespiratory endurance (aerobic power), skeletal muscle endurance, skeletal muscle strength, skeletal muscle power, flexibility, balance, speed of movement, reaction time, and body composition.
There is no mention of running a marathon. There is no mention of having a six-pack. There is no mention of body fat. Fitness is a combination of so many different factors, all of which we can improve on.
So, I ask again, when will you know you are fit? Will it be when you can play with the kids without tiring (or injuring yourself)? Or when you can run a 5 km parkrun without needing to stop and walk? Or when you can do your own vacuuming or yard work? For each and every one of us, fitness looks and feels different. We are not one-size fits all when it comes to fitness, yet often our ideals are.
My Top Five Tips for Making New Years Resolutions!
1. Write them down
Research tells us that you are 42% more likely to succeed if you have your goals written down and hold yourself accountable to them. But once written down, they can’t be then put away. Have them written down somewhere you will see them and regularly review them!
2. Review Regularly
Speaking of regular reviews – as the year progresses you might need to make modifications to your goals.
Are they still relevant/meaningful/ideal for your life right now? Are you on track or completely off? Why? What do you need to change – your goals or you?
Put into your diary reminders to review your goals throughout the year. It could be monthly, or every three months depending on what you wanted to achieve. If you review your performance again in March, June, September and again in December would that help you succeed?
3. Focus on the action – not the result.
Again consider the weight loss example above. Focus on the behaviours that will lead to weight loss. Everyone is different when it comes to weight loss, and for some people, body fat can be particularly stubborn! It is heartbreaking to put in a lot of effort but get little or no reward (i.e. no change on the scales).
This type of approach is not sustainable in the long term and often leads to the yo-yo effect of weight loss.
However, if your goal is to focus on what you need to eat, and what type of exercise to do and then you can tick it off when you have done it and feels as though you are winning! You can see the difference in mindset when working in this way.
4. Find your tribe!
Be around like-minded people who have similar values and who will support you to reach your goals. Find a friend or someone who you can reach out to who will provide a positive appraisal of what you have done and what you are working towards. If you’re a little competitive find that someone who will spark your drive and push you that little bit extra!
5. Don’t go too crazy!
I asked earlier – “what sacrifices are you willing to make?”. Too much change in one go leads to boom and bust. Often we set ourselves really high expectations, and when we don’t meet them, we become disappointed, or worse, injured! We can’t do all the things (trust me – I have learned this the hard way!) and to make large changes to one area of your life, you have to sacrifice others. Some sacrifices are worth it. Others are not. What are you willing to give up in order to reach your goal? So long as you are aware of the consequences, and prepare for a strategy to help you overcome them, then this won’t be an issue. But it’s worth thinking about beforehand.
Setting goals for the new year is a great way to start the year on the right foot, but keeping them going throughout the year is the challenge! Putting these four things into action will help you stay on track all year and give you greater chances of achieving these goals!
May 2018 be your best year yet!