So here we are on the brink of 2019 … another new year facing us. Does the thought bring excitement? Dread? Fear? Longing? Relief?
There are so many emotions tied to this transition of one year to the next based on our life circumstances. Maybe you’ve lost someone in your life and there’s dread of a new year without them. Maybe you’ve lost a job and the hope of a “prosperous” year seems bleak. Maybe there’s a wonderful event in the upcoming year (college, wedding, trip) and the excitement is palpable. It varies for all of us, from year to year.
In relation to health and fitness, we can place huge, unrealistic expectations and “rules” on ourselves in anticipation of making this new year THE YEAR OF (fill in the health wish).
I will lose 150 pounds this year.
I will exercise every day for 12 months.
I will get up at 4:30 am every day for exercise.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a list maker, a “to-do” killer. I believe in goals and mapping out paths. And I’m a lover of Benjamin Franklin’s saying, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail”!
So where am I going with this? Let’s make 2019 something to look forward to through thoughtful planning and not just “wishes”. Let’s get real. Realistic goals. Planning accurately and with specifics. Managing expectations. We all know that it’s easy to wave a white flag of surrender and quit when actions consistently can’t meet expectations. So let’s bring these expectations into reach.
1. What is your health or fitness goal?
So what exactly is your health or fitness goal? Is it to lose weight? Is it to fit in smaller-size clothing? Is it to reduce your sugar intake? Is it to exercise more? Is it to run in a 5K race? Is it to be able to lift more weight in the gym than you currently lift? You need to identify your exact health or fitness goal for the year. Some people get all pumped up with a lot of resolutions for the start of the new year. I suggest choosing just one goal for greater focus and chance of success.
2. Define the metric for your goal and ask, “Is this reasonable and doable?”
So you’ve decided on the health or fitness goal you will track throughout the year. Let’s further define the goal with metrics and then ask, “is it reasonable or doable?” If you want to lose weight, how much is reasonable? Is it doable, or do you need to scale that metric down for THIS YEAR and then continue with it next year?
- Is it to fit in a smaller size clothing? What is your goal size?
- Is it to improve your run time? What is your current mile rate? What minute-mile would you like to get to in the next 12 months?
- Is it to reduce your sugar intake? How much is “reduced?” Is your blood-sugar level a metric you plan to use?
- Is it to reduce your BMI? From current level to what?
- Is it to exercise/move more? Define “more”? Which forms of exercise?
- Is it to increase weights at the gym? How much is more? 20%, 30%, 40% more than what you currently lift?
3. Game Plan
Once you’ve figured out the above, it’s now time to do the nitty gritty work of your plan. HOW will you carry out these goals? How can you set yourself up for success? Remember, you will use the metrics above as your gauge of how you’re doing during your plan. Here are my recommendations to consider when making your game plan.
Specific steps: Get VERY specific. You’re going to get nitty gritty here. Which actions on a daily, weekly, or monthly (DWM) basis need to occur to reach these goals? You’ve already decided these goals are reasonable and doable, and which metric to use as the goal, in #1 above.
- So you’ve defined what “smaller-size clothing” means to you, so now: How do you plan to get into size X clothing? What is your food plan DWM? What is your exercise plan DWM?
- You’ve decided to run in a 5K race, so now: What is the date of the race? Have you registered for it? What will you do DWM to be able to run this by the race date? Where will you practice run? What time of day will you do this?
- You’ve defined how much is “reduced sugar”, so now: What does that look like? No soda? No alcohol? No desserts? No breads? Will you track your blood sugar levels?
- So you’ve decided to reduce your BMI to a certain level, so now: How exactly to get there? Weight lifting? Exercise? Diet? (DWM)
- You’ve defined how much is increased weights at the gym, so now: How will you have to lift DWM to get to a XX% overall increase? What does that look like?
- You’ve defined “more exercise” so now: Which forms of exercise? What does that look like? When during the day will you do this? Where will this exercise occur?
Create a chart with columns Daily | Weekly | Monthly and write the specifics actions you decided upon under each column. Post this where you can refer to it easily. You can make a page for each day, week, or month and checkoff when you accomplish the specific actions for more visual accountability or you can find plenty of templates online as well.
Accountability person: Who is my “safe” person? This isn’t a person who will tell you what you want to hear or allow you to get off track. Instead, this is the person who understands your deep desire to improve your fitness and is on board as your cheerleader – they will tell you what you need to hear. This is a person who has agreed to be there for you when you feel weak, when you’re headed to an event where temptation is leering at you – you can text or call and they will cheerlead you through the difficulty.
Reset preparation: My mom used to say “There’s only one person who walked this earth who was perfect, and you’re not it.” The nature of our humanness is imperfection. So, if your expectation is that you’ll never fail or falter, you’ll be devastated and possibly go off the rails when you do. The mentality is not to use your imperfection as an excuse to give in to temptation, but instead to manage your expectations so you don’t wave the white flag of surrender! So if you falter, the key is to recover quickly. Let me say it again, QUICKLY! The goal here is that you accept you didn’t follow through your plan, and instead of throwing in the towel for the entire day, week, or month, you reset immediately to reclaim the day. Think through in advance how you will reset back onto your health plan in the event you falter. You might even want to work this through with your accountability partner … a phone call to them when you fall and the “next steps” you plan in advance to get back on track.
4. Gratefulness and Hope
Remember as you step into 2019, that you are more than weight! You are more than how you look! Don’t get so focused on the exterior that you lose track of who you are as a person. You were created with purpose and plans and you have great worth and value. The greatest antidote to hopelessness is gratefulness. Keep a journal of all the things you are grateful for, of your hopes and dreams, and document when good occurs in your life as a marker of hope and praise. And lastly, find ways to give back. When you’re a giver instead of a taker, you oftentimes are more blessed than the receiver!