On my recent podcast with Dan T and Canadian Minds on Health I spoke about resolutions, and how 88% of people fail at them. There are some simple strategies you can use in order to be more successful in your fitness and nutrition life this year, however. This article is all about the big things that you can change and some strategies that you can use in order to get your year off to a good start and keep it that way – until NEXT Christmas.
#1: Think Long Term
When we set goals the problem is that we don’t think about things in a long term sense most of the time. We want immediate gratification like everything else in society today. The problem with that is not only are you not really setting a well defined goal, it isn’t long enough to have lasting impact if it is only in place for a few weeks.
All of my athletes have their yearly goals typically planned by February, and successful fitness people do this all of the time as well. It allows you to then break up the year into smaller chunks and makes it more manageable. You can then set short term goals to move towards, and then even shorter ones. In athletic vernacular this is called periodization, but for the average person it just means that you always know what you’re going to be working on from start to finish in 2015.
You also need to factor in changes to things like weather, vacations, any major family events and think ahead to manage these things. If you set it up long term then you’re much more likely to succeed.
#2: Make Small Changes, Not Big Ones
Big changes like trying to work out five times a week and completely overhaul your diet also just sets you up for failure – because it isn’t realistic. Lots of people think they need to throw out everything in their pantry and suddenly find an extra 5 hours a week to spend at the gym, which isn’t totally necessary.
If you’re going to cut something out of your diet – make it one thing. And that thing should be fairly easy to do. An example would be processed sugar – easy to cut out and easy to maintain once you get over the withdrawl and taste of your coffee. Another good one might be a processed carb like pasta. Tell yourself no pasta for 30 days, then after 30 days pick something else and remove that too – by the end of 6 months you can remove pretty much everything major that might cause a problem.
When it comes to exercise, start simple. 20 minutes is my general recommendation. Whether it be walking, cycling, weightlifting (which would be my number one choice), yoga at home in front of YouTube, set your timer for 20 minutes – you can even get away with doing one exercise if it is the right one (see my article on deadlifts for this). Will this turn you into an Adonis overnight? No. But it will start a good pattern. Find that 20 minutes isn’t a problem? Bump it to 30 – then 40 if you can or add another day if your time allows.
#3: Find Something You Really Want To Do
We are all motivated by different things, but for many people at this time of year it comes down to vanity and looking better. In my opinion as I always say, health first – looks second.
So what’s a good example? I want to run a 10k in the spring. I want to fit into my dress for that upcoming wedding. I want to climb a mountain in the fall. I want to rock that bathing suit at the resort I go to next year.
Or how about I want to get off my medication? I want to stop thinking that I’m awful looking every time I look in the mirror? I want to be a positive example for my kids? I’m single and I really want to have sex with someone? These are more emotionally motivated but you get my point.
Bottom line is if you don’t really want to do it you’re not likely to – so find out what that thing is, make it stick for a long period of time and set the goal for the long term.
#4: Put Together a Team
This can be your family, friends, or experts in the field like myself or Dan – or even starting to blog online and getting support through that. Ongoing support is vital towards success in any stage of the game.
Women are 20% more likely to achieve a goal if they tell their friends about it – so do that. Guys prefer to do things solo generally but they like to learn, so hire a good trainer and sit down with a dietician and go over everything, with a way set up for support and constant feedback. Some of my clients are completely virtual (I’ve never met them in person), but we correspond through email and I track them online. Dan meets with people via Skype and with modern technology there is no excuse for not reaching out and finding someone you can trust with your goals.
Are you a group person? Join a meetup workout group or a running group or a sports team locally if you can manage the time. Not into groups? There are tons of tracking apps and anonymous ways to support yourself with whatever physical thing you are doing.
Family is typically really important for these things – my wife and I trade off care of our daughter and you can too. We also plan ahead for meals and make sure that even if things go off a bit they come back quickly. But even telling your family about what you want to do can be enough for them to support you at meals and with your activity outside of the home.
So before you set a resolution, take the time to plan ahead and set things up properly. If you need help with anything feel free to contact or email me. Good luck and before you know it, 2016 will be here, and a whole new you as well!