Catching up on posts from the holidays?
- I made an amazing Banana Bread Breakfast Bake
- I went on my first barefoot run and discussed heel striking
- I listed my Top Posts of 2010 (includes informational posts, not just personal posts)
So â€“ itâ€™s that time of the year again! The time for New Yearâ€™s Resolutions (NYR).
I know that some people hate NYR, but hear me out. Setting goals (we can call it â€œgoalsâ€ instead of resolutions if you want!) is absolutely imperative if you want to move forward in life and achieve your goals.
Repeat after me: Goals are not achieved by accident. Goals must be thoughtfully identified and planned for in order to be reached.
The most popular type of NYR are, without a doubt, diet-, fitness-, and weight-related goals. These resolutions have become a bit of a joke over time â€“ like how the gym is packed from January to February, at which point all the Resolutioners give up and things thin out. But it is 100% possible to set and actually achieve diet-, fitness-, and weight-related goals â€“ you just have to go about it in a very specific manner.
How do I know? Well, I used to suck at NYR. I would set goals every year; however, by February, I would be one of the people totally blowing it. However, about five years ago, I figured out how to make NYR actually work, and ever since, Iâ€™ve used January 1 as a way to identify life goals and put myself on track to achieve my big dreams, both personal and professional. In fact, I achieved every single goal I set in 2009.
(Side note: Most of these tips can be applied not only to diet-, fitness-, and weight-related goals, but also to other goals, like saving money or improving your relationships!)
Here are my Doâ€™s and Donâ€™tâ€™s for achieving those NYR:
DONâ€™T: GO IN WITHOUT A PLAN. The #1 reason people fail at NYR? They approach NYR without a plan. When I set any goal, I literally write out my plan for success. On a sheet of paper, write your goal at the top. Underneath the goal, write out each step necessary for success. If youâ€™re trying to reach a goal youâ€™ve never achieved before, do research by browsing the Internet or talking to friends who have achieved the goal. For example, if you want to run a marathon, check out training plans to get a realistic idea of how much work is required. Put your plan somewhere youâ€™ll see it regularly, like a cork board above your desk.
DO: BE SPECIFIC. â€œLose weightâ€ or â€œGet healthyâ€ are way too vague (more details about the losing weight goal are below). What does this mean to YOU? When creating a NYR, try to be as specific as possible with both your overall goal and the steps required for success.
DONâ€™T: BASE YOUR SUCCESS ON THE SCALE. For some reason, many healthy living bloggers shy away from talking about weight issues. Letâ€™s break the taboo for a little bit: the truth is that we all experience weight fluctuations, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, as long as you 1) actually have weight to lose/arenâ€™t triggered into old or new eating disorder patterns by losing weight; 2) donâ€™t let it consume your life or jeopardize your health; and 3) go about weight loss in a healthy manner. However, I would recommend not basing success on the number on the scale for several reasons. One, I find scale use can become obsessive. Two, your weight changes daily as part of a natural cycle (eat, poop, sweat, drink). Three, weight doesnâ€™t tell you how healthy you are â€“ it just tells you how much you weigh! You might change your exercise and eating habits, lose a pant size, and look awesome â€“ and the scale might not budge due to muscle gain. Personally, I would like to tone up in 2011 and lose some weight that I gained in the last six months, but Iâ€™m basing my success on the fit of a pair of too-tight wool pants â€“ not the scale.
DONâ€™T: SET A NYR DUE TO A KNEE-JERK EMOTIONAL REACTION. This is what typically happens during the holidays: we eat, drink, and make merry for a month and a half, and then we wake up on January 1 with a raging hangover and decide that this. is. the. year! The problem with this type of knee-jerk reaction to NYR is that our goals are usually unrealistic and restrictive because we set them in a poor mindset. Wait a few days and create a thoughtful, realistic, and HEALTHY goal instead.
DONâ€™T: MAKE MAJOR LIFE CHANGES SUDDENLY. Likewise, I always failed at NYR when I decided to completely revamp my life in one day. If you need to clean up your eating and establish exercise habits, tackle these NYR one at a time (start with whatever one you feel most emotionally ready for). Give yourself a month with the first goal before moving onto the second one. Sudden lifestyle shifts are a surefire way to ensure your NYR will be an epic fail. Slow and steady wins the race!
DO: ESTABLISH SMALLER GOALS AND MILESTONE REWARDS. I am the type of person who writes â€œshowerâ€ and â€œeatâ€ on her To Do list just so I can cross stuff off. If youâ€™re the same way, establish smaller goals so you can feel satisfied on the way to reaching your larger NYR. If youâ€™re gunning for that marathon, sign up for a 10K and Half Marathon, too. Also, create fun rewards like buying new workout clothes or getting a massage as you reach your mini goals.
DO: ESTABLISH A HEALTHY WAY TO MEASURE PROGRESS. Again â€“ the scale is not the way to go. The number game sucks. If you want to reach a diet-, fitness-, or weight-related NYR, find a healthy, balanced way to measure progress, such as 1) achieving a certain number of workouts/week; 2) completing a hard yoga class; or 3) trying a new vegetable each month.
DONâ€™T: SET YOURSELF UP TO FAIL. Donâ€™t set unrealistic goals, like promising youâ€™re going to work out 5 times a week if you work 70 hours and currently work out zero days a week. Aim for three days instead and youâ€™re bound to be successful. Adopting a perfectionist attitude about your life changes is also dangerous.
DO: SET YOURSELF UP TO ACHIEVE. Build flexibility into your goals. I know I need to cut back on sweets and alcohol, but is it realistic to say Iâ€™m never going to eat dessert or drink again? Umâ€¦ no. So Iâ€™m building desserts and dranks into my plan for success. Also â€“ donâ€™t just talk about it â€“ do it. If you want to join a gym, go sign up. If you want to run a race, you better register for it. RIGHT NOW.
DO: ANTICIPATE OBSTACLES. Just like itâ€™s important to be flexible, itâ€™s also important to anticipate obstacles to your success. If you want to eat better but know you usually end up ordering in lunch at work, you better make a commitment to go grocery shopping and prep meals for the week each Sunday! If you want to work out regularly but are easily bored, map out a different workout theme for each month. Basically, study your previous behaviors and determine why youâ€™ve failed in the past. You might not have been specific enough, you might have demanded perfectionism, or you might have entered into your NYR without a plan. Learn from your mistakes! Similarly, if you fall off the wagon, just get back on it the next meal or the next day.
DO: TELL EVERYONE ABOUT YOUR NYR. Make it public! Tell your friends and family (or start a blog and tell everyone on the Internet). Not only can other people hold you accountable (â€œSo, howâ€™s marathon training?â€) but you might find a buddy who can act as your support system, whether that means swapping healthy recipes or working out together.
Soâ€¦ I bet youâ€™re wondering about my goals for 2011! 🙂 I tend to break them up into personal, professional, and fitness goals.
- Save enough money to buy a home without needing PMI.
- Prepare body, relationship, and bank account for eventual pregnancy.
- Learn to speak Chinese with the Husband (so excited about this).
- Keep in better touch with my old friends by calling them more often.
- Write the Operation Beautiful 2 book, which is due February 15.
- Write the Healthy Tipping Point book, which is due in September.
- Keep freelance writing at least once a month.
- Help the Husband grow his acupuncture practice.
- Get back into ideal racing shape and run a 1:55 Half Marathon in March.
- Race a sprint or Olympic triathlon in the summer.
- Do yoga at least three times a week.
- Use my indoor bike trainer when watching TV instead of just sitting on my butt (at least twice a week).
- Drink more water and regularly take my supplements.
Have you set your NYR? What is your goal and your plan for success? (Pssst â€“ want to win a free life coaching session from Jenn? Simply leave a comment on this post. Sheâ€™ll pick three winners on Friday!)