Yes, it’s that time of year when many evaluate where they are and where they would like to go. I believe it is natural and healthy to self-evaluate and want to make changes in one’s life. Over the years I have vowed to make changes such as drink more water, increase my vegetable intake, cook more, eat out less…and the list goes on and on. I will admit that I have not always been successful in these resolutions, but I have had successes, whether partial or complete. Remember to celebrate the little victories. I guess you can call it experience, and at 51 years old I’m getting more and more “experience”. So, I’ll share a bit of this wisdom with you in hopes that you will also have some victories this coming year.
The first step is determining your goal. What do you want to achieve this coming year? Be realistic in identifying this. For example, a goal of eating 6 servings of vegetables per day may not be realistic if you hate vegetables. So, where do you start? There are ways to get vegetables in your diet, even if you really don’t like them, but 6 servings would not be easy to achieve. A more realistic goal may be that you will eat a serving of vegetables daily (whether in one serving or split up throughout the day) OR you may want to incorporate vegetables in your morning smoothie OR start a vegetable concentrated supplement. Hey, like I said “celebrate little victories” …a win is a win. If you partially meet your goal, then you are better off than you were previously.
Secondly, instead of making a BIG goal, choose smaller incremental goals. How does a sedentary person achieve a goal to run a half-marathon in a year? Committing to go for a walk on your lunch break every workday (or even a smaller amount, such as 3 days/week) for the next month would be a realistic place to start. Once you achieve this goal, then increase the distance, frequency or intensity of the activity. This brings me to the 2nd part of this advice, set time limits on these smaller goals. What do you want to achieve in the next 30 days, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, year? Set goals for each of these time frames to keep charging ahead. Putting these goals in writing gives you something to look back on and evaluate your progress. Visually seeing your goals written down keeps it in the forefront of your mind and reminds you to keep moving in that direction.
Thirdly, find an accountability partner or team. Tell these people your goal(s) and your plan, so they know exactly what they need to do. Pick someone who’s going to call you out if you aren’t following through, but also support your efforts. This needs to be people who want you to succeed. Consider choosing people from different aspects of your life (work, home, school) to keep you on track. If quitting smoking is the goal, then ask non-smoking coworkers to help you with this by discouraging you from going outside with your smoking co-workers. Remember that you need to be receptive to the accountability police. You cannot get mad or upset when they step in to do the job that you asked them to do. They are there to help you, so accept that help.
There is also the challenge of dealing with those who don’t want to see you succeed, the saboteur can sideline your success. Don’t let them steal your joy. Let’s be honest, your change in lifestyle may put a kink in someone else’s. If you’ve made the commitment to eat a healthier diet, and you are the cook at home, don’t be surprised if your family isn’t all that supportive. Just because you want to eat healthier doesn’t mean that they do. Bringing home fast food for dinner, stopping at the store to pick up chips, requesting to go out to eat may all be challenges that you will need to deal with. Be ready, what will you do if this happens? Do you have the will power to not eat that stuff if it’s in the house or in front of you?
Remember, if you fall off the horse, get back on! Just because you get off track doesn’t give you permission to bail on the entire plan. Recognize the stumble and re-group. Realize that you may need to make some adjustments along the way and that’s OK. If you sprain your knee and can’t run for 6 weeks, then that half marathon may need to change to a 5K goal. You can plan for that half marathon down the road (see what I did there).
And probably most importantly, make a plan and BE SPECIFIC. What things are you going to do to get you to the finish line? Here’s an example:
Goal: In 6 months I want to fit back into my jeans from 2 years ago (2 sizes down from your current)
Specific strategies to get me there:
1. Every week make a grocery list of food that I will be preparing for the week and not divert from that list, unless it’s a healthy option. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. (The grocery store can be a dangerous place, all those goodies calling your name).
2. Meal prep for the week (including snacks) every Sunday, so I have better food options available, and less temptation to pick something up on my way home. Pack my lunch every day, include snacks. (If you’re a person who likes something sweet after your meal, then pack a small portion of fruit to satisfy that sweet tooth. Or if you crave that salty, crunchy snack try cucumbers or carrots with a sprinkle of salt. Having healthy options at your fingertips will keep you away from that vending machine or convenience store trip).
3. Subscribe to a healthy recipe group, select recipes to make and then make them. (It doesn’t help you if you just save a bunch of recipes and never try them. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this).
4. I am a stress eater, I will incorporate stress relieving activities into my routine: walking, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, music therapy.
5. Join a gym because I hate to work out alone. I’ve learned from experience that I will not do it on my own.
6. Go to the gym 3 evenings/week
pack my clothes the night before and take them to work with me so I can stop at the gym on my way home.
look at the gym schedule ahead of time and plan on when I am going
find an accountability gym partner who is expecting me to be there and will call me if I don’t show up.
have an alternate plan if something happens (i.e. class is cancelled, snowstorm, running late from work).
7. Substitute water for soda and juice.
8. Tell my plan and goal to my co-workers, family and friends and ask them to hold me accountable and call me out if I’m self- sabotaging.
All right, so you’ve got the plan in place. No excuses…GO GET IT DONE!