2019 is just over a month away… that is a scary thought isn’t it? Time flies by way too fast. If you are like most people you probably made a resolution last year that you didn’t keep this year, and you’re probably thinking about what you’re going to choose for 2019. With that in mind, I have decided that I’m going to use the Fridays leading up to New Year’s Eve to post a series of articles to help get you on track to keeping your fitness related resolution.
Get Fit in 2019 Part 1: Goals
Make a GOAL not a RESOLUTION
The first step to being successful in achieving your “resolution” is to change the terminology. Don’t call it a resolution – that word is notoriously synonymous with “something you say but never actually do” in today’s world. That is the reason we call the people that join the gym in January and leave by February “resolutioners” – we know they aren’t there to stay, they’re just trying to start off the year with their resolution. If you instead decide to set a “goal” for yourself, you may find that you will be more specific. I know, it sounds silly that just changing the wording can make a difference – but you’ll see what I mean as we go along here.
As a Physical Therapist I have to write goals for all of the patients I treat, so to me the word “goal” has more weight behind it than “resolution” does. For a goal to be valid it must meet certain criteria. It must be SPECIFIC, it must be MEASURABLE, and it must be REALISTIC.
The first thing about a good goal is that it needs to be as specific as possible. Let’s say that you want to start working out and lose some weight. Okay… great plan, but what is it you need to do specifically to achieve that? We need to make that goal less general. When we add more details to the goal it makes it sound more important and giving it a deadline will add a sense of urgency that can help to keep you on track. Let me give you some examples of vague vs specific goals:
Some “good” goals would be:
“Great” goals are more specific:
- Go to the gym
- Run a mile
- Lose some fat
Reach 15% body fat by May 15
Run 1 mile without stopping by June 1
Train for and finish the Detroit/Windsor Half Marathon.
Make it Measurable!
You need to have a way to quantify your progress, or else how will you know how you are doing? Pick something that can be objectively measured – for example body weight, body fat level, waist size, distance/duration of exercise, completing an event, or fitting into a your favorite pair of pants from high school.
Once you decide how you are going to quantify your progress, you should get some baseline measurements. That can be as simple as having someone take some pictures of you (front, back, side) , stepping on a scale, getting your body fat tested (by a professional, not a body fat measuring scale), assess your running tolerance, or try to squeeze into the clothes you want to be able to wear! Be sure to record the baseline information somewhere safe because you will need the numbers or pictures later when you go back to compare.
Try to be realistic when setting your goals. Setting a goal that is unrealistic is one of the big reasons people fail at their “resolutions”. If you want to lose 50lbs of body fat – keep in mind that you’re probably not going to realistically or safely achieve that goal in 1 month. If you want to run a marathon and you’ve never run more than to the bathroom – you’re going to need more than 2 months to train.
To keep goals realistic it helps to break your big goal into smaller, more manageable goals. Let’s say you want to lose 90lbs – that is a HUGE amount of weight to think about losing. It is a great goal, but it may sound insurmountable if you look at it as one large goal. Realistically you can expect to lose 1-3lbs of body fat per week – yeah I know there are miracle diet plans out there where you can lose more in a week (keto is magic, right?) but they aren’t realistic to maintain long term… but I won’t get into that tangent now… Okay so lets look at that 90lbs: Divide 90lbs by 12 months – you’ll need to lose 7.5lbs per month to achieve that goal. That doesn’t sound as insane does it? You would start out your year with a goal of losing 8lbs by February 1… which is pretty realistic. When you weigh in on Feb. 1 you can set your goal for March and just keep the train rolling!
Same principle can be used for just about any fitness/health goal you may want to achieve.
Alright – so there you have it. Don’t make a resolution – decide on a GOAL, write it down, and get some baseline measurements. Next week we’ll talk about setting up an exercise program.
See you then!