By: Danny Osias,
Fitness Center Assistant Director
Lifestyle changes don’t happen right away or just because a new year is here. With commitment and consistency, and specific tools, changes can happen any time. People often aim for massive, unrealistic goals at the beginning of the year, without setting up a plan or factoring in small setbacks. Be flexible in your approach, and realize that things won’t always run perfectly, and that it’s lifelong positive habits, not a temporary behavior change, that you’re working towards!
Be SPECIFIC with your goal
Most people pick ambiguous goals such as “Lose weight”, “Get healthier”, “Be a better person” with no real plan behind how they will achieve them. Instead, hone in on one goal and make sure it is concrete. Say the goal out loud as if you have already achieved it. You can quantify it by saying “I will lose 10 pounds in 6 months”, “I will get healthier by eating mostly whole foods” or “I will volunteer 2 times a month.” Whatever the goal is make sure to break it down and put a realistic number and deadline so you can see it in your mind and take action immediately.
Break it down into SMALL attainable goals
Set numerous reachable goals that you can hit as milestones along the path towards your big goal. Be realistic. There is a greater chance of sticking to your plan if you have small victories on the way.
For example, if you want to lose weight you can break it down to losing ¼ to ½ a pound every week or two weeks. That way it is realistic and doesn’t seem like a daunting task. If you are trying to eat healthier, start by replacing your usual snacks with lower calorie alternatives. If you want to run a marathon, start with a 1 mile jog a few times a week and the slowly increase every week by half a mile. The key is to start, be consistent by tracking, and gradually progress week after week.
Keep a detailed plan and JOURNAL
This is probably the most important step but is often overlooked. Without a written plan, it’s easy to give up when faced with adversity. Write down your goal, break it down into smaller pieces, set some realistic deadlines, how you plan to achieve these smaller objectives, and what difficulties you might face (special events, vacations.) Check in daily to keep it fresh in your mind and revisit when you go through some struggles.
Track you progress in this journal. Whether it is what you are eating every day, your workouts, or how much weight you’ve lost per week. If you see yourself progressing in any way it will keep you motivated by seeing those small wins. It also removes any guess work and unpredictability from the process.
Make it a HABIT
Unhealthy habits have accumulated over years, so it will take some time to change, but you can do it with these tools. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Your written-down, realistic goals, action plan, and journal will help you develop NEW habits you can keep for a lifetime!