Every New Year’s people make their resolutions. To be fitter, skinner, and to exercise more. January starts out okay but by February, for most people, the resolution is merely a forgotten promise to themselves for self-improvement.
As a nutritionist, I see a lot of people whose main goal is weight loss but I am lucky enough that I can help them set sustainable goals that can be achieved. I am going to share with you some of the steps that I recommend for keeping your health and wellness goals for 2017.
Set the Goal
Weight loss is a goal but it isn’t that specific. You can easily achieve this goal by losing one pound and ta-dah! You reached your goal! When setting your goals, you want to narrow in on what you really want––why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to get fit? Why do you want to change?
Some goals that I like to see with my clients are: to fit into that dress from two years ago (making sure that the dress size is something achievable); to be fit enough to run 5KM non-stop; and, to eat less sugar to balance moods.
Breaking Down the Goal into Bite Sized Pieces
Starting a new habit is daunting. You already have your old habits and to create new ones, it takes time. One of the easiest ways to set a new habit is to break it down into smaller pieces. For example, with weight loss, identifying why the weight was gained in the first place is crucial. As well as getting tested to see if there are any underlying medical issues that need to be considered (food allergies, PCOS, thyroid conditions).
From there, breaking your goals down can be as simple as aiming to eat five servings of veggies each day, to a weekly goal of going to the local Zumba class. Once you have mastered the first goals and they are habits that are firmly set in place, you can add the next steps.
Adding too many new habits to our lives all at once is generally the reason why most people opt out of their New Year’s resolutions.
Tracking Your Progress
You need a baseline to let you know that you are making progress: something to keep you motivated and let you know that what you are doing it working. In regards to weight loss, I recommend people taking a picture of themselves as a guide, as well as taking measurements around the waist, neck, and hips. For exercise, have a baseline test that you do once a month, which includes a number of exercises that you can test yourself on. This can be how many sit ups that you can do in a minute, or how fast you can do a 100m sprint.
Keep it Fun!
Sometimes change can seem like a lot of work and you just don’t want to do it anymore. Change is probably affecting another part of your life that you don’t like and at one stage, you are going to be wondering if it is worth it.
If you get to this stage, ask yourself: are you still having fun? What is bothering you? Is it not seeing your friends as much? Do you miss having a night out with the girls?
Then chose to have some fun! Get some friends and do an exercise class together. Sick of eating the same thing? Go out for dinner to get some inspiration on new foods. Workouts are feeling a bit flat? Try some new videos on YouTube or get out for a hike. Want to go out dancing? Then do that! Just because you want to be better for 2017, doesn’t mean that you have to give up on fun.
Don’t Take it to the Extreme
This goes hand in hand with having fun. Sometimes when setting a new goal, you want to achieve it no matter what! This might be not eating sugar, drinking alcohol, or never missing a training session. This is great, but it can get boring fast! I just want to remind you that if you have a drink with friends, you are not going back to square one. Missing one training session because you are exhausted just means that you know your limits and you want to look after yourself. Eating a piece of chocolate is so small compared to the amount of sugar that you might have consumed before.
Part of creating a sustainable health and wellness goal for 2017 is to allow for some cheat days. I always recommend the 80/20 rule. You stick to your health goals 80% of the time, but allow for that 20% flexibility. This really keeps you from going insane and wanting to give up on everything. Plan for that cheat meal once a week, and really enjoy it when you are eating it! If something unexpected comes up, just roll with it because you do have that flexibility. You don’t have beat yourself up about it. Life gets messy, you can’t plan for everything so keep the 80/20 rule in mind.
Make Sure You Have a Support System
Let the people around you know your goals for 2017 and some of them might even want to set the same goals. Have your friends to keep you accountable, but also to support you when things are a bit tough. Most importantly, have your support system to celebrate your wins because that is the best part!
Hope everyone’s New Year is shaping up to be a good one!
This article was first seen in the Tofino Times, January 2017 edition.