It’s about to be a New Year! Soon it'll be 2022, hooray!! Let’s be honest, the past two years for everyone have not been the easiest. Here’s to hoping that this year will be better, right? Well if you’re starting the year like most people you have new goals or new resolutions. So let’s address that! Let’s look at goals and resolutions and how we can make them more achievable. Especially health and fitness related ones!
First off, what is the difference between a goal and a resolution? The literal definition of a goal is “the end toward which effort is directed.” By this definition from Merriam-Webster, the goal is simply the ending you’re aiming for. It has little to do with how you get there as long as effort is put forth. A resolution is defined as “the act or process of resolving such as the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones, the act of answering, or the act of determining.” Based on this definition, resolutions are a form of problem solving. So, when we set a New Year’s resolution we are technically defining a problem and finding ways to solve it. Interesting.
If you think about you, you can set a goal and use resolutions to achieve the goal. When we were all taught to set smaller goals to achieve bigger goals, we were actually using resolutions to achieve our goals. If this is something we were all taught in elementary school, can we apply it to our current health and fitness goals, whether they’re New Year’s resolutions or not? Yes!! As a trainer and nutrition coach, I work on this all the time with my clients! And there are three steps to it.
Step 1: Set Your Goal
What is your ending? What are you trying to achieve? In health and fitness, the most common thing I hear is “lose weight” or “get in shape.” While these are basic, are they good goals? I would say no. Neither of these things are measurable or specific enough to be a “good” goal. If you want to lose weight, how much do you want to lose? When do you want to lose it by? If you want to “get in shape,” how do you define shape? When do you want to be in “shape” by? Make sure you can measure your specific goal with a time limit. A better goal would be: “I want to lose 15 pounds in 4 months.” There is a specific number in which to lose in a specific (and realistic) time frame.
Step 2: Figure Out Your Why and Add it to Your Goal
Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to get in “shape?” How does this goal benefit you once it is achieved? Some solid examples for weight loss as a goal include reducing cholesterol or blood pressure, reducing the risk of diabetes, increase general health, and even aesthetic. Yes, I said aesthetic. There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight to change the way you look, just make sure that is truly your why. Once you know you’re why, add it to your goal. For example, “I want to lose 15 pounds in 4 months to decrease my blood pressure.” Now we have something specific and measurable in addition to a why.
Step 3: How Are You Going to Achieve Your Goal?
This is that resolution part! Let’s “solve the problem” of how you are going to lose the weight or “get in shape.” In health and fitness, no matter the goal, it is best to start small and get bigger. These smaller resolutions should still be specific and measurable with a time limit and the why is to achieve your main goal. Since resolutions are about resolving the problem, they should be written as something you will do, they are the action or effort toward your goal. An example of this smaller resolution is “I will walk for a minimum of 30 minutes, 2 times a week, in order to work towards losing 15lbs in 4 months to decrease my blood pressure.” Remember, you will likely need multiple of these in order to achieve your bigger main goal so they can be as small as you need them to be. When it comes to weight loss or health and fitness, plateaus are normal and when that happens you can add or change your small resolution that still moves toward your goal.
With these smaller resolutions I have found it best to make them something that you can make a habit. A lot of health and fitness goals we want to be sustainable, thus the resolutions should be habitual or something that can create a habit. That way, when you go to create your next smaller resolution you have something to build off of. Then once these become habits, you’re more likely to reach your goal and maintain it (depending on what it is, of course).
And there we have it. Three steps to make goals and using resolutions to achieve them. As you make your New Year’s resolutions and goals think these steps through. One other thing I suggest doing to help you achieve your goals and complete the resolutions is keeping a record of everything! Use a journal (digital or not) to record your main goal, your smaller resolutions, and your measurements. Remember the goal and resolutions should have something you can measure, make sure your keeping an accurate record of those!
Good luck in 2022!! You got this!