November 26, 2005 – It is January 1, 2006 the morning after much celebration and sealing your new year’s resolution. Yes, this year you will lose the spare tire, saddle bags, and J-Lo attribute! You make a mad dash for the computer and search for “lose weight super-duper fast,” you rush to the bookstore to read all the books in the diet and fitness section, and browse the aisles of nutrition supplement stores. You join a swarm of people on jogging paths, gyms, pools, and fitness classes in an effort to meet your new year’s weight loss resolutions. But the average resolutionists do not realize that in actuality it’s an exercise in futility. In the end, the effort is no different than a puppy chasing its own tail. The three major reasons are that goals are vague and unrealistic, there is a lack of accountability, and most people do not provide room for error thereby quitting at the first slip-up. Let me give you a guide to setting up your resolution.
The most important aspect of achieving your resolution is to set a specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic time oriented goal (S.M.A.R.T). Your goal should then be broken down into achievable objectives. In addition, your goals should be able to first meet a personal inner desire; it should really mean something to you. It should create a long lasting fire to drive you into action, to push through obstacles and barriers, and most importantly, keep a smile on your face. Here are the steps to writing your weight loss goal:
1. Identify why this goal is important to you.
One of my clients, I’ll name her Julia, told me she wanted to lose ten pounds before a trip to Italy that was going to take place in three-months. About two weeks into this “lose ten pounds before a trip to Italy” plan, she started to miss and cancel sessions. She must have canceled and been a no-show to our training sessions for about two weeks when I finally got her on the phone. During our conversation I found that she was doing nothing more than procrastinating a very vague and not so meaningful goal. In essence, there was a huge disconnect between the end results of losing weight and why it was important to her. After further conversation, she mentioned that she was going with her sister in memory of her father and that she was visiting her father’s home town in southern Italy. Her father had died young of cardiac arrest, was overweight, and had never realized his dream of taking his children to visit his hometown. In addition, she was approaching her father’s age when he passed away and this trip had made her reflect on her health status. Her goal now was to “reduce her weight by ten pounds and lower her cholesterol to normal in order to be alive and healthy to take her children on a trip to their grandfather’s home town before they went to college.” At this point she had a deeply meaningful goal that she continues to work as her children grow up.
2. Get S.M.A.R.T. with your goal and create objectives.
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting means that you are being specific about the end result, providing a way to measure it, making sure it has an achievable and realistic outcome, as well as a due date. That means that Julia’s goal to “lose ten pounds before her trip to Italy” only met only one of the five criteria. A more effective way wording your goal would be to write something like following:
Today, December 31, 2005 I plan on losing 10 pounds before my departure to Italy on April 1, 2006. In March I will get my annual physical and my cholesterol levels will be normal. After my trip, I will maintain my results exercising three times per week and maintaining healthy eating habits in order to take my children to Italy in five years.
Next, you need to set up your objectives. Your objectives are smaller goals that will lead to your goal.
In order to achieve this goal, I will lose between 1 to 2 pounds weekly by:
1. Completing a one-hour cardiovascular workout on the treadmill on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before breakfast.
2. Complete a 30-minute full-body weight-training workout on Thursday and Saturday.
3. I will eliminate all sodas and sugary snacks.
4. I will make sure to eat only single portion servings at each meal.
Her goal now is specific and measurable “lose ten pounds, reduce cholesterol to normal levels, “ achievable and realistic since we know that it is possible to lose one to two pounds per week, and she has a timeline that includes weekly actions leading to her trip departure in April.
What are you going to do to make you accountable for your goal? At work you have a boss that you answer too when you do not meet deadlines. I’m sure that it keeps you on the “straight and narrow”. For a weight loss goal who do you have keeping you on the straight and narrow? Also, do you have a way to track your progress? The key is finding multiple sources to keep your inner fire burning.
Then let me tell you of a simple way of doing this.
1. Get a coach!
Assistance should be two-fold, one to provide you with expert information to help you effectively and efficiently achieve your goals and, two, a support group to share your experience and boost each other forward. One way is to use a fitness coach. I don’t mean just a trainer leading you through a workout but a professional dedicated to assisting you through your goal. My online fitness coaching service is perfect for those looking for this type of support.
2. Join an online support group.
An online support group will allow you to share your experience, learn from others, and drive each other forward. My online support group myfitnesscoach-for-weightloss is a sure fire way to get you involved with others who have similar goals. In addition you will end up making lifelong friendships from around the country or even the globe.
3. Tell someone significant in your life. Let the important and significant person in your life know will do wonders for you. For one, you will end up with a cheering section composed of someone who knows you well. Second, they will be a personal source of accountability that will make sure you stick to the healthy options in a restaurant menu, assist you in choosing a power walk over an ice cream Sunday, and pick you up when you have a slip-up.
Learn from Slip-ups
My first lesson as a trainer was to let clients know that the sudden binge, occasional milkshake, or social eating is normal. The most important thing is that you learn to manage these slips and drive forward towards your goal. It is said that Thomas Edison had ten-thousand failed experiments in his quest for a light bulb. That is a ton of persistence! If you slip, recap that moment decide what your action plan will be the next time you have something similar. After the recap, you immediately go back to acting on your goal.
Second lesson I learned as a rookie trainer, is that you have to be flexible with your plan. For example, if Julia found that she suddenly was given a heavy workload and had to miss her evening workouts because of late nights at the office, she should find an alternative way of getting her aerobic exercise and her healthy eating. She could take two or three fifteen minute breaks, put on her cross trainers and walk up and down the stairwell or go for a power walk. For meals, she could pack healthy snacks, a salad, yogurt, and fruits so that she is not tempted to raid the vending machines. Of course, each case will be different but you will have to get creative and be flexible to adjust your plan.
The secret is to keep yourself moving forward through realistic and achievable fitness objectives on your way to your goal. The author Stephen Covey says to “start with an end in mind.” Write down a vision of your ultimate goal. Then set up realistic and achievable objectives lasting about 6-weeks each. Seek success at each objective and keep moving forward until you arrive at your ultimate vision. Six weeks will get you approximately six to twelve pounds closer to your goal.
My personal desire as a coach is to see you succeed. I hope that I have been able to provide a guide to taking your first step to a fit and healthy 2006.
Please visit my site for more information on achieving your fitness goals at myonline-fitness-coach.com [http://www.myonline-fitness-coach.com].
Eduardo G. Perez is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He has over 16 years of experience in assisting individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals. In addition he is owner of [http://www.myonline-fitness-coach.com] an online fitness resource for achieving fitness goals, offers tools to help you get started and stay on track throughout the year.