New Year, New You!
Every year, as the clock strikes midnight, we find ourselves with a clean slate and a new year’s worth of opportunities. If you are like most people who make resolutions, some of the coming year’s goals include fitness and lifestyle changes. Maybe 2015 is the year to finally run that half marathon. Or maybe 2015 is the year that you’ll get into the “best shape of your life.” We start out resolved and determined to reach our goals and usually about a month in, life’s other priorities get in the way and our health gets displaced to the backburner once again. Why do we allow ourselves to be deterred from our fitness goals? Is there any way to ensure that this year will be “your year?”
The Reason Why
The first step to sticking to a health related initiative is to identify the reason “why” you want to achieve this goal. This is the time to be reflective regarding your past and to acknowledge that it’s quite alright to be selfish with your goal. Maybe you want to live longer than your parents did, to be able to keep up with your kids, or to be more productive at work. Maybe you can feel time ticking away and your bucket list keeps growing. Or maybe you just want to not have to suck it in when you’re in front of your wife. Whatever the reason, identifying the “why” will help you to buy in to your goal. When times get rough, as they sometimes do, reminding yourself the reasons why you started the journey in the first place can often help you stay focused.
The SMART goal
The next step is to set a S.M.A.R.T goal regarding your health. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Declaring that you’d like to get into better shape is not an example of a SMART goal. Stating that you’d like to complete a 5K in under 40 minutes while utilizing a six day training program over the next 12 weeks is a SMART goal. With that particular goal, making sure you sign up for a 5K that is 12 weeks from the start of your program will help you remain accountable. Once you are able to uncover the “why” and then set the SMART goal, it’s time to announce your intentions to your friends and family. This adds another layer of accountability to your plan but beware; once you involve your friends and family, you may find yourself facing a game of mental toughness.
The Mental Toughness
There are people close to you who will be happy for you and supportive of your goal. Unfortunately, there will be others who won’t be supportive; in fact they may even try to sabotage your efforts. It’s a sad side to human nature; that someone close to you may see your efforts to improve as an indictment of their own unhealthy habits. If your spouse is pushing “just one little slice of chocolate cake” at you when you’ve declared yourself “sugar free for 12 weeks,” you will have to find the mental toughness to “just say no” and remind yourself of the reason why you started the journey in the first place. In running and in working out, we often say it’s not “you against the road” or “you against the weight rack,” it’s “You against yourself.” In order to be successful, you have to quiet that little voice inside you that sometimes urges you to give in or give up. It’s part of the mental game to go one more mile or to say “no” to that chocolate cake when the inner voice is telling you different.
The Mentor or Coach
So while friends and family may not be on your side, you can always enlist the help of a mentor or coach. These folks are always on your side. If they’re good, they’ve helped you to define the “why” and they’ve helped you to set that SMART goal. They’ve outlined a specific plan and they’ve created a system of accountability for you. When that inner voice urges you to quit or go easy, they are the ones who believe in you and encourage you to go on. They are results driven and can help you get past the point when you’re finding more excuses than reasons to stay on the healthy track. Whether in a group setting or one on one, we’ve found that more people achieve their goals when they are assisted by a knowledgeable, trained coach.