I have a stretch goal, literally and figuratively.
I want to improve my flexibility and my other goal causes me to reach just a bit. It’s the beginning of a new year and there is lots of excitement and renewed motivation – use it to help reach your goals, not to set them. A little advice, Go BIG or Go Home, is not the way you set New Year Resolutions/Commitments. In my opinion, when it comes to wellness goals, go small and make ‘em SMART. It doesn’t matter where you are on your wellness journey, everyone can be a little healthier by making a few small changes. If you have not been working out, instead of making the commitment to go to the gym every day, commit to 2 days. Decide which 2 days you’ll go and what you will do on those days. Make a plan. Set yourself up to be successful. The goal is to overshoot every goal. If you need to lose 60lbs this year, a small goal: 6lbs in 6 weeks is a SMART goal and a great place to start. When it comes to goal setting, as I said, go small and keep them SMART – Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Timely.
What is it exactly you want to accomplish? Be as Specific as possible. Don’t express goals vaguely like, lose weight, run a race, or eat healthier. A few good examples: Lose 20lbs and 4 inches around the waist. Run a half marathon in less than 2 hours. Drink moderately consuming less than 5 alcoholic beverages a week. Eat healthier consuming more than 4 vegetables a day and abstaining from fried food. Each one of these examples you can measure. Each goal should be Measurable. An objective test is much easier to grade than a subjective one. When it comes to reaching your wellness goals, each day is a test, an opportunity to move closer to your goals. You don’t want to get to the end of the term and see you failed, when it could have been avoided.
You can achieve your goals, if you set Achievable goals. There is not a parent who is encouraging their baby who just begun crawling to run. No. They have to walk first. You must be this considerate and realistic when setting your personal goals. Where are you at this very moment in your life? What is the next step in your wellness journey? It could be hard to process this alone. For this reason, I encourage you to chat with a friend. Have a conversation with someone who may be a few steps ahead, be it friend or fitness/wellness professional. Setting unrealistic goals lead to feelings of failure and discouragement. Unrealistic goals are the reason so many resolutions have such short life expectancy.
When a client says to me, I want to lose 30lbs in 2 months. I can say that’s not realistic, or healthy. A weight loss 1% of your bodyweight a week is healthy. This would be 2lbs a week for a person weighing 225lbs. Experience says this is not the rate that most people want to lose weight, this feels slow. However, experience (and research) also says a person with an average 1-2lb weight loss a week is more likely maintain their weight losslong term. The same goes for getting stronger, running faster. You have to move at a rate that supports you and your health, avoiding injury or setback.
Your wellness goals should support your well-being. Therefore, when setting goals, you have to determine how this goal is Relevant to who you are. This is when I invoke the 5 – Whys to my clients. I want to lose weight. Why? To be healthier. Why? To feel stronger and lose weight. Why? To improve my self-esteem. Why? To be happy, fulfilled and confident in my own body. The answers vary from a better quality of life, to be able to parent better, to reduce medication. Each why is important and necessary and help to determine good goals. If you can’t get to a good answer, it’s most likely not a good relevant goal.
Once you figure out your why you can decide your when. When can you celebrate the reaching this goal? Your goal should be accomplished in a Timely fashion. Whether it’s a 3 month, 6 month or 9 month goal – create a timeline with check-in points and milestones. Don’t just schedule workouts, but schedule celebrations. Celebrate each win, when it happens. Allow them to fuel you. There will be mistakes and failures along the way, that’s ok. Learn from them.