How to set yourself up for success in reaching your 2017 fitness goalsby: Philly Powered Ambassador, Leslie Marant Many of us begin the New Year with a resolution or other promise to avoid using the “r” word. We set out with the best intentions and maybe even a new or renewed gym membership, DVDs, bands, and a set of dumbbells. We are ready and set to go go go!
For the first month or so we’re about it. We eat volumes of nasty kale (sorry but kale sucks rhino nuts) our fancy blenders are in use, we buy protein powder by the gallon and post gym selfies declaring that #noexcuses will stop us from #bringingsexyback.
The new diet, and new or renewed exercise routines feel fandarntastic and we wonder why we didn’t start sooner or allowed ourselves to stay off the wagon for so long. We are energized. We feel great! We let everyone know (and there’s nothing wrong with that).
Eventually the IG selfies and gym check-ins slow down to trickle and stop. What happened? Life. The challenges, schedules, burdens, and obstacles which kept us from reaching our health and wellness goals remain. Because we didn’t develop systems and supports to work around them and to keep our diet and fitness routines going they died slow and regretful deaths.
Make a System
We need systems, support and accountability to become and remain consistent. Rare is the person who can go from being sedentary and eating poorly to being active and eating well without help. Those who successfully maintain solo health and wellness journeys are the exception, not the rule.
That means the rest of us do best with help and a wellness partner, coach, or community. When we say we’re going to eat better who holds us accountable to that? If we’re not journaling food intake and having it reviewed by someone else we tend to stray too far away from our nutrition plan. And who helped us develop the new nutritional plan in the first place? God forbid if the answer is the internet, a friend’s plan or simply “low carbs.” Check your healthcare program for registered dietian coverage. Most plans permit six visits for only the cost of a copay. Also check with your employer or grocer to see if there are programs that offer nutrition services onsite.
The same thing goes for exercise. If we’re diligent enough to develop SMART goals, write them down, and begin following them, who holds us to those goals? What happens when working out four days per week decreases to three, then two, then only randomly or not at all?
Sharing fitness plans with people who will hold us accountable to them works. The key is that the person or group has to be willing to remind us of our the promises we made to ourselves. More than likely this won’t be a best friend or person facing similar health and fitness challenges as we are. Those people will too easily give us passes.
So what do we do? My recommendations are:
- Visit a Registered Dietician to develop a personalized nutrition plan.
- Share you goals with an accountability partner, coach, or group.
- Give your accountability partner(s) authority to call you out on your lapses and to call you in to your goals with love and support. Identifying the right people is key.
- Develop a fitness routine preferably with a partner or a few. If you plan to exercise three times per week try to find a different person/partner for each day. We’ll cancel our own workout. We tend not to stand other people up.
- Be sure that your accountability team knows to be flexible. Establish how many times, days, sessions, meals you get to mess up in advance, and establish a yellow/red warning system to get you back on track. Let the accountability partner know what to do and say to get you to recommit.
- Plan, plan, plan. Without a plan we fail. Period. Plan meals, plan movement, plan rest. Share the plans with your accountability team and review them regularly.
- Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. Be. Patient. Ask yourself how long it took to become deconditioned. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to become healthy. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are healthy bodies.
- Celebrate all achievements, no matter how small or large, without food.
- Set automated reminders to review your goals at least quarterly.
- Understand that maintaining healthy bodies is a lifelong process, like brushing teeth. To have pearly whites we have to brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly. Clean teeth don’t stay that way without a commitment to keeping them clean. Once the habits are established the maintenance simply becomes a part of life and if we don’t do what we should we have yucky mouths and unhealthy bodies.