It’s the most energetic time of year for resolutions and goal setting! As a coach, I thrive on the excitement of students, clients, family members and friends who are trying to better themselves in an area that I am super passionate about: fitness. Unfortunately, research shows that further we move into 2018. the more likely we are to abandon our fitness goals entirely! Get ahead of the game by creating a plan that is simple to achieve and sustainable in the long run.
Change One Thing At a Time
You may be tempted to jump into your fitness journey full steam ahead! If you’re like most people, you’re probably aiming for some combination of weight loss, strength gain, and/or improved health. The problem is that these goals require you to change multiple habits and behaviors at once. Standard changes include 1) working out 3-5 days a week and 2) altering your diet. It seems simple, but in reality, those primary habits require you to make related changes that you might not have considered. You may need to
- Set aside time to make your healthy meal plan
- Reserve half a day during the weekend to buy groceries and prepare meals
- Add fruits and veggies to your diet
- Eliminate junk food
- Get more sleep so your body recovers from your workouts
- Wake up earlier to fit in your workout
- Go to sleep earlier so you can wake up early…
You get the picture? From this perspective, it’s no wonder why so many people get burnt out after only a few weeks of trying to get fit! In our minds, there were only two simple changes to make: work out and eating healthy. In reality, it was a lifestyle makeover. We need to stop setting ourselves up for failure and start simplifying
The fix: Focus on one habit at a time. If your plan is to start working out in the morning, give yourself two to three weeks to develop the habit of getting up early. Once that is solid, add the workouts. Your mind needs time and space to adjust to every new habit you add. Do yourself a favor and honor that.
Make Leisure Activities Physical
Some people hate working out. Others find it difficult to add exercise to an already busy schedule or they simply get bored doing the same old thing. A good way to sneak in a bit of fitness and fun in one fell swoop is to make your leisure time active!
Did you play sports in high school or college? Join an adult league. Do you listen to audiobooks in your car? Take a walk during your lunch break and listen then instead. You can also organize family time or social outings around activities like a yoga session or a dance fitness class. Be creative and aim for activities that you enjoy. It will increase your strength and stamina so that when you’re ready to commit to a gym or home routine, you don’t have to start from scratch! Plus, you’re getting in some well-deserved recreation time, either alone or with your loved ones.
Separate the Holidays from the Feasts
Do you ever get the feeling that every single one of our favorite holidays is an opportunity to stuff ourselves as much as possible? Thanksgiving is often a gluttonous affair with 2nd and 3rd helpings of my mom’s ground beef stuffing, served up with my sister’s potato salad (extra mayo please!). The day after is penance in the form of a double day of workouts. Yes, they include vomit-worthy cardio in a vain attempt to “burn off” every last bite, which we all know is not possible.
But let’s be honest, this isn’t reserved for holidays only. Many of our social outings are also centered around food. How often do you go out for cocktails with friends after work or on the weekends? And how many date nights include dinner and movie (extra butter on the popcorn)? This is a habit born of cultural conditioning. If you want to achieve your fitness goals, you must flip the script.
- Have honest conversations with close friends and loved ones about separating food from social time.
- Suggest alternatives, such as attending an art exhibit, visiting a museum, or renting a private room for karaoke.
- If food is an integral part of the event, whenever possible, opt out of the meal. Eat before you go to a party or offer to meet up after dinner.
In many cases, you will feel better for it.
Get to Know Your REAL Needs
Poor habits, such as eating crappy food are often a result of a craving for something unrelated to hunger itself. To name a few culprits:
- Being tired/Lack of sleep.
- Being cold.
- Being stressed.
- Feeling intense emotions.
Eating serves as a temporary fix for many problems in our lives, which is why it is often likened to addiction. But it is possible to stop using food as band-aid.
The solution: self reflection. Ask yourself “What do I REALLY need and want right now?” Then pause for two or three minutes and really think about it. You may be surprised by the answer. It can range anywhere from “It’s cold in here. When I eat I feel warm” to “I feel overwhelmed and angry and I don’t know what to do with all this energy. At least if I’m full, I can focus on that instead of the feelings.” The inquiry is your first step to uncovering the truth behind your cravings. With that knowledge in hand, you can start shift your behavior too.
Dominate Your Fitness Goals Slowly and Steadily
There’s no substitute for putting in the work. As long as you are taking small, but consistent steps to achieve your goal, you will reach it. Always honor yourself by going at a pace that is manageable, because that is how you create change that lasts. So go for it and be mindful. The more you learn about yourself, the better your chances of sticking with it.