Here we are again at that time of year when many of us will be asked, “what is your New Year‘s resolution?”. Many resolutions that Americans make will relate to losing weight or improving health. So how do you make those resolutions happen?
First, let’s talk about goals versus resolutions. Resolutions may last for a few weeks, then we forget about them with the idea that resolutions were made to be broken. Visit any gym in January, and then visit again in April. You will see how many individuals stuck with their resolutions. Goals on the other hand, are real and attainable.
It is important to set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Specific is the What, Why and How of SMART goals. What are you going to do? Why is it important to do it? How are you going to do it? Example: “I am going to walk three times a week (WHAT) during my lunch break (HOW) because it is important for my health and well-being (WHY).” Measurable in goal setting is choosing a goal with measurable progress. Losing 5 pounds by March 1st is measurable….and attainable. If you are looking at weight loss, make sure your goal is attainable. Although magazines, advertisements and television may show individuals that lose 5 to 10 pounds a week, that is neither realistic nor healthy. Healthy weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. You may see a larger weight loss in the beginning which is often related to loss in waste products. Losing a healthy amount of weight will also help to ensure that you will keep the weight off. Next, is your goal realistic? In other words, is it do-able? Don’t set your goals so high that it sets you up for failure, but don’t set them so low that it doesn’t take any effort to achieve. Don’t set a goal to get to the gym EVERY DAY. Life gets in the way, schedules change, kids get sick. Give yourself a goal of 3-4 times a week which is more attainable and allows for schedule changes. Extra days will be a BONUS! Finally, is your goal timely? It is crucial that you set a timeline for your goals, whether it is a month, three months or a year. Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.
When it comes to weight loss, do not rely entirely on the scale. Exercise, particularly strength training, results in fat loss and lean muscle gain. You may start at 150 pounds and a month later frustration sets in when you see 150 pounds on the scale again. Your weight may not be changing, but your body composition is. Pay attention to how your clothes fit, or better yet have a body composition test done by a fitness professional.
Keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle isn’t short term. It’s not about looking good in a swimsuit for your cruise in March. It is about making permanent lifestyle changes. Setting realistic goals for a healthier lifestyle is the best gift you can give yourself and your family for the New Year.