New Years is here and if you’re like most of the population, one of your resolutions likely has something to do with improving your physical fitness in one way or another.
Setting fitness goals is the first step to sculpting a sexy new bod and/or improving your health this year. Without a definitive plan, goals are just dreams.
Use the following tips to help separate yourself from the rest of the pack this year.
1. Be Pragmatic
Pragmatism includes being both realistic and hard-headed at the same time. Being realistic in your fitness goals means that you’ll not let fantasy get in the way of reality. You know that you want a tighter waistline, that you want to eat nourishing foods rather than damaging ones. These are dreams that can will become reality with persistance.
When working to change your current state of physical fitness, you’re going to realize that you can’t lose 20 pounds of fat that took years to pack on in less than a month’s time. You can’t run a marathon tomorrow when you haven’t run a single mile since high school track. Change is a good thing when it leads to a better health and happier you, but it will take time and there will likely be some bumps in the road that will require some perseverance on your part.
2. Slow and Steady…
… wins the race, right?
We’ve all heard this, but when it comes to desire most people want it all, right now. Many of us like sitting around and doing nothing on a Saturday morning, rather than running a 5k when it’s -10° outside. We like grabbing a doughy bagel or sweet succulent doughnut at the coffee shop for breakfast. These habits will take time to change. Resolve to do better one step at a time.
Run a mile today and a mile tomorrow, then see how you feel at the start of the coming week. Cut out the unhealthy breakfast this morning and allow yourself to indulge tomorrow if you just can’t resist, but cut the portion in half to help stay the course toward your goals. Slowly build your resolve over a reasonable time period rather than diving right in and “ripping the bandaid clean off” as the saying goes.
Gradual change allows your body and brain to adjust to the idea that you’re eventually going to be a completely different you; someone who puts healthy habits before bad ones.
3. Create a Game-plan
How many of you waited until the 31st of December to begin pondering how you want to look and feel by the end of this year? It’s okay if this describes you, most of us find ourselves in this position each year, yet an alarming number of people who have hopes and dreams for the coming year find themselves in the same quandary when the next year rolls around.
Failure to formulate and actually write down a plan is one of the biggest reasons fitness goals go unrealized. Writing down your goals and a reasonable plan of action to achieve them will allow you to stay realistic and work to affect change in a steady and reasonable pace that will lead to success.
4. Define Your “Why”
Why do we brush our teeth every day? Because we don’t want cavities and enjoy having our teeth right where they are, right?
We all like money and would have absolutely no problem accepting a million dollar check if it were put in our hands. Why then is there such a disparity between the middle class and the poor? The rich and upper middle class? It all comes down to reasons.
If you don’t know why you want to bench press 200 pounds this year, or why you want to fit into a size-2 bikini by summer, there’s really no real reason to pursue that goal is there? Your reason why will motivate you on the days when your resolve wanes. Write your why down along with your game-plan.
5. Make Yourself Accountable to Others
Not everyone is 100% self-driven to achieve their goals. We need loved ones, friends – even our boss at work to help us get things done. Tell everyone you know about your goals and ask them to “nicely” remind you of them if they see you drifting off course.
One of the easiest ways to find someone who’ll truly be there to give you a gentle kick in the butt when needed is to find a person who has similar goals to yours, be it building muscle, losing fat, improving cardio – or all the above. Motivating each other and striving toward a singular goal is how governments all over achieve success on the world stage.
6. Give Back to Yourself
It doesn’t matter what goals we try to achieve in life, occasionally one needs to let loose and reward themselves for sticking to a given game plan. If you’ve resolved to eat healthier and have been sticking to your guns for a while, eating all the right foods and drinking nothing but water and black tea/coffee, take a day every month where you’re allowed to pig out and eat an entire medium pizza to yourself or start the day with that double mocha cafe latte you love so much.
If you don’t think you have the resolve to get right back on track after cheating with food or drink, treat yourself to a new article of clothing, or that fancy food processor or smoothie machine you’ve always wanted but couldn’t justify spending the money on. Set milestones and give back to yourself when you achieve them.
7. Track Short and Long Term Goals
Perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks to our fitness goals, failure to keep track of where we started and where we’re at currently is another reason success eludes most people. Write down everything you do which brings you closer to your goal along with things that hinder them, so you can track each milestone (ie., losing five pounds in a week, increasing distance ran by 1 mile every month, etc.) and make adjustments when/if you start to slack off.
8. Expect You’ll Slip up Occasionally
Of course you’re going to give into temptation at Christmas time or perhaps on your birthday. This isn’t the end of the world. Having several sugary drinks with some friends on night or indulging at an office party one Friday a month doesn’t mean that you’ll wake up the next day and do the same thing all over again.
Tell yourself that it’s fine and that you’re going to keep working hard to attain the level of fitness you dream of. It’s only when you let destructive diet and lifestyle behaviors become daily habits that you’ve lost sight. Forgive the little hiccups.
Rewarding yourself at certain milestones will help to avoid unplanned mishaps from happening too often.
9. Stay the Course
It can take up to six months for daily habits to become part of who we are. Even then you’ll still be tempted to slip back to those unhealthy habits once in a while. Stressful situations or even extreme excitement can make you feel the need to skip a workout or eat a greasy burger instead of a garden salad.
Just keep at it. Know that you’ll get there as long as you keep at it!
As Napolean Hill once said:
Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.