It’s that time of year when everyone around you seems to be making plans to improve their fitness, physique, or activity level. For so many, the good intentions appear to fizzle by the end of January or shortly thereafter. However, fitness and health-related New Year’s resolutions don’t have to end in anguish.
The tips I’m going to provide are not mind-blowing, but practical and efficient. The S.M.A.R.T. acronym has been used for goal-setting in a variety of focuses from business to athletic performance and has been proven effective for those seeking health and fitness lifestyle changes or challenges. Consider your resolution synonymous with a goal. Goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines have a much higher chance of survival!
- Specific – Decide what precisely you are trying to achieve and more importantly, how you are going to do it. If you want to lose weight, what steps are you willing and able to take? Avoid forming broad or ambiguous goals.
- Measurable – Your goals should be quantifiable. A major New Year’s snag is setting resolutions that are too vague or subjective. For example, “I want to look good in a bathing suit” or “I want to have a hot body.” If you cannot easily measure it, how will you know if you're making progress?
- Action Oriented – Goals should indicate something that needs to be done. How are you going to reach your goals? Create a flexible game plan, (one that can be adjusted if needed down the road).
- Realistic – Goals should be achievable given various constraints. Don’t set yourself up for failure! If you have a busy schedule and are just starting to exercise, don’t plan for six days a week. Start off with shorter sessions, lighter intensity and slowly progress your way forward as exercise becomes part of your normal routine.
- Timely – Goals should be achievable in a reasonable time. Educate yourself or seek guidance from a fitness or health professional to learn what an appropriate timeline would be for your goals. Any program or diet that promises a quick fix is unlikely to live up to its claims or provide you with long-term success.
- Self-determined – Goals should be set by, or have input, by you! If you’re working with a personal trainer, he/she can help you create S.M.A.R.T. goals, but the plan should be in line with your aspirations. If you’re getting pressured by family members or a doctor to lose weight, you need to be invested and involved in the goal-setting process for it to actually work.
But beware of these Resolution Pitfalls:
- Setting too many goals too soon. Start with one major long-term goal and break it down into smaller, baby steps or short-term goals. If you want to improve your diet, an initial small step could be to eat four extra servings of fruits or vegetables in one week.
- Failing to adjust goals. Life happens and often when our exercise routine gets interrupted, we give up. Expect interruptions and make plans on how you’re going to get back into the swing of things when they do come up. Be flexible – life is not black and white so your goals shouldn’t be either!
- Failing to recognize individual differences. Don’t compare yourself to others or what you see/hear in the media. We have so many differences – physiologically, personally, professionally – that it just doesn’t make since to expect to make the same goals, follow the same plan, or expect the same results.
- Not providing evaluation. Record your goals and assess them. Create a schedule to check your progress and write down your achievements.
- Setting goals based on common fitness myths or misconceptions. As mentioned before, be sure that your goals are realistic, appropriate, and specific to you.
Don't hesitate to contact us at St. Laurent Health and Performance if you need any assistance with your New Year's goal setting at 860-783-5504 or email@example.com!