Goals that linger with us long term deserve our attention and commitment. This holds especially true for our health and fitness goals that can lead us to happier and healthier lives. Ever have the damming epiphany that if you started truly working towards your goal when you first conceived it, you would have already accomplished it? The time is now, let’s get started.
Maximize results by making your goal as specific as possible. Write it out in detail. Laser like focus leads us to the most direct path to reaching our goals and in the shortest amount of time. Not being honed in on one specific goal leads to distractions and slows down you efforts. Pick your target, write it down and post it where you will be forced to see it daily. I find it also helps to list the additional benefits you will reap once you have achieved this goal.
Avoid the temptation to attack your new goal with the overzealous enthusiasm of reserved for door buster sales on Black Friday. When we charge into a program with unchannelled enthusiasm, we tend to burn ourselves out in the first couple of weeks. Accept that the changes you make need to be gradual and the results will be gradual. This steady approach guarantees long term success and is well worth the wait.
A sustainable weight loss goal is 1-2 pounds per week. This is based on the fact that we need to burn off more calories than we are taking in. A pound of fat is 3500 calories. Creating a daily caloric deficit through dietary changes and exercise of 500 calories a day will lead to a loss of one pound of fat per week. Keep this in mind and focus on achieving the caloric deficit of 500 calories a day through healthy food choices and exercise to ensure you are shedding body fat.
If you have not seen a sunrise in over a decade, know that you are not a morning person and do not slate yourself for 5am workouts. If you have a weakness for sugary snacks, clear them out of your home, office, car, etc. Do some personal lifestyle recon and figure out where, who, what, when and how you tend to get off track. Flex your problem solving skills and come up with a way to get over these obstacles long before you encounter them. Also, figure out your style and preferences. Do better in a group? Find group workouts. Need that playlist to get you moving? Put in the time to get your music together beforehand and always have an extra set of headphones in your gym bag. Set yourself up for success on a daily basis to ensure you are staying on track.
A huge part of truly committing to a program and preparing yourself for change is assessing your current condition. An honest assessment of the starting point is sometimes hard to do. Nobody likes weigh ins, before pictures or other measurements. Painful as they might be, they are huge tools in accountability and can become a symbolic moment for truly committing to a lifestyle change. Also, your successful journey will be that much sweeter when you can look back and relish on your progress. Consistently tracking progress is essential to staying on course and for measuring milestones. Celebrate milestones with rewards to yourself for all of your hard work. I recommend making the reward something that you will love, but that will also fit into your healthy lifestyle. New workout clothes and massages are my personal favorite pats-on-the-back for hard work well done. Another benefit to documenting your progress is using these photos and measurements as a tool to help us rebound from setbacks. Setbacks are inevitable and it is crucial for us to look at how far we have come and hop right back on track with minimal damage done. Resilience, perseverance and reward.
Goal accomplished! Mission complete! Congratulations! This is definitely a time to reward yourself and revel in your amazing display of hard work, discipline and consistency. But don’t let up yet. Maintenance is often the hardest aspect of any healthy lifestyle. At this point, goals need to be reassessed and a new plan of action needs to roll into place. Remember all of the hard work you put in and the structure that it required to achieve. Take the time to look over everything you have learned in this process. What worked, what threw you off course, what did you like and dislike? Put all this information to work as you establish routines and habits that will lead to lifelong maintenance of your newly achieved goals.
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