By Tia Norris, January 2019 Issue.
It’s that time of year. You know, when many of us resolve to finally pursue and achieve those deep-seated desires we’ve been putting off until now. And of course, one of the most popular (if not the most popular) resolutions around New Year’s always involves getting healthier. I would bet that 90% of goal-setting around the holiday includes losing weight, or getting in shape, or eating better in some capacity.
If you’ve been reading my columns for a while, you know my spiels on how to first set better goals, and second how to work smarter in pursuing them. To review: you have to get specific, meaning get as detailed as possible in setting your goals, including what/when/why/how. You also have to set up ways to stay accountable, like hiring a trainer, or joining a group or team, or signing up for a race to hold your feet to the fire. It’s also crucial to be realistic about what you are actually prepared to change, to sacrifice, and to endure in order to reach your goals.
So, once you’ve got those measures in place, here are my next-level tips to revolutionize your health and fitness resolutions this year:
Start slowly, progress gradually
This is perhaps the most important piece of information in this article! For most people who decide to make a change to their health, the rookie mistake is to bite off way more than they can chew. “Overzealous” is an understatement.
Many people overcommit to too many workouts, too many schedule conflicts, too much change in their diet, and soon find themselves upside-down in the difficulty of changing everything at once. Trust me, I too am impatient about many things – I understand the desire to get going when you set your sails toward the destination.
However, as a seasoned expert in health and behavioral change, you have to know that gradual, slower change will always last longer and take you much further than overhauling everything overnight.
Start by committing to three workouts per week, if you’re starting from zero. Don’t overdo it, yet. Once you get a grip on three workouts, then go up to four; and again, once you master that level, move up to five. Studies show that less than three workouts per week will not yield appreciable results quite as quickly as three… so keep that number as your minimum. Next, try to find something that you actually like. If you hate your workouts, chances are that as a beginner, you’re not going to last very long. Pick something that actually sounds interesting.
First and foremost, start tracking your food. Awareness is power. Second, for the love of God, skip the fad diets, crash plans, juice cleanses, fasts, and all that quick-fix bullshit. Seriously, it won’t last, and you will gain everything back. Third, once you’re tracking and are on a sustainable approach, make small changes one or two at a time – like subtracting chips or cheese or cookies, and getting a grip on that, before changing more. Remember, gradual is the name of the game that will keep you accountable and sustainable for a long time.
Have a plan for roadblocks and setbacks
I wish I could tell you that the path to health and fitness would be a bed of roses but at times, it can actually be really fucking hard. You will have days where you don’t feel like it, where you don’t have enough time, where you have to work around an injury, where you want to quit, where you question your reasoning for setting this goal in the first place, etc. So, you’ll need a plan for when those moments strike.
This is one of those “fail to plan, plan to fail” moments. For all of your goals, you’ll need to have plans in place for when shit gets real, as it inevitably will. Here’s what you’ll need to write out (yes, actually write) for each goal:
Why it’s important to you.
Plan to overcome obstacle(s).
In order to succeed, the more planning you can do, the better. Details matter! Of course, this is where hiring an expert to work with you on your goals makes all the difference… they can help figure out which plans work best for you and your goals, if you’re new to this pursuit. Remember, make your goals specific, accountable, and realistic.
Once you’ve done the groundwork, ramp up slowly and be prepared for the long, hard road ahead. All of that hard work will undoubtedly be worth it; I can promise you that!