It’s that time of year again, when the masses hit the gym in an all out assault on their “resolutions” in attempts to take strides towards self improvement. These resolutions vary wildly, from losing xxx amount of weight to improving performance to just looking physically better in general.
Unfortunately, with the same vigor that gyms across the country see their numbers soar in January, those numbers plummet in February and March. In the 15-20 some years I’ve been in a gym, it’s always been the same story, every single year. (Oddly enough, it’s much less so here at CrossFit Sandpoint, but we’re special).
If you’re one of those people (whether you want to admit it or not), there are a few things you should keep in mind to give yourself a better chance of success this year.
1. Set goals. There are probably thousands of articles on the internet regarding successful goal setting, but in short, a good goal is Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, or SMART. In other words, a goal of “I want to lose body fat” isn’t a very good goal. “I want to lose 10 pounds of fat” is better. “I want to lose 10 pounds of fat by April 1st” is even better.
2. Be realistic. Whatever your goal is, it should be realistic. This is a bit redundant considering SMART has achievable and realistic as part of the acronym, but it bears mentioning again. All too often do I see people aspire to do things that are either completely impossible or unhealthy. Make sure that what you are setting out to do is something that is possible. If you are seeking reconciliation from some effects of some poor life decisions, take a look at how long it took you to get where you are now, and realize that it will likely take at least that long on the way up. In other words, if you’ve added 20 pounds of fat over the last year, you should probably count on another year of turning it around. That’s probably not the answer you want to hear at the start of the year, but doing it all in 4 weeks is either impossible or unhealthy.
3. Make a plan. Once you’ve put together a solid, realistic goal, you need a solid, realistic plan. Since your goal is SMART, you can probably come up with a way to attain that goal. If you want to achieve your goal in 6 months, you need to get a plan together of what you’ll do in the days weeks and months leading up to your deadline. Intentions are good, but putting pen to paper is the only way that you’ll actually achieve what you are setting out to do. Just like the goal itself, your plan needs to have the elements of SMART built in. Rather than saying “I will lose 10 pounds by April by working out 4 times a week and eating clean”, you need to design some elements that will hold you accountable. A better plan would be, “I will lose 10 pounds by April by doing CrossFit Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday as well as hiking or skiing on Saturday or Sunday and sticking within 5% to a macronutrient profile of 140g Protein, 110g Carbs and 50g Fat 6 days a week with one cheat day on Sundays where I can stray to 20% outside”. Remember that saying the words, “I’ll ____ for _____” is a lot easier than the actual day to day of doing that.
4. Be consistent. Once you set a realistic plan for your goal, you absolutely need to be consistent. If you intend to workout 4 days a week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sat/Sun, you need to do it, refusing to let anything get in your way. You eat everyday, you sleep everyday, you brush your teeth everyday. Those are habits that you don’t let anything get in the way of. Your actions for success can’t be any different. Its incredibly easy to slide down a slope of missing a day and believing you’ll make it up later, and then not. Then that week is a failure, and you feel like you're whole plan is derailed, so it doesn’t matter if you miss the next week. This continues until the goal disappears into the ether like years past.
5. Make it fun and keep a good attitude. If it ruins your life, it’s probably not worth it or it wasn’t a realistic goal to begin with. Your goals should work to enhance your life, not destroy it. If you hate exercising in a gym, don’t make that part of your goal. Now more than ever, there’s a lot of different ways to work out. Find one that works for you and that you enjoy, and do it. Exercise and nutrition don’t have to be miserable.
6. Find a coach. Every part of the list above is something that a qualified coach should be able to accurately help you with. They will help you set goals, make plans, keep you accountable and should be able to make it fun for you. Yeah, they can be an added expense if you’ve never used one before but if your goal is actually important to you, it’s a price you'll dramatically benefit from paying. Qualified coaches are professionals and (hopefully) have gone through a great deal of training and experience that will help you get where you want to go. Get recommendations from friends, look around on the internet and do some interviews. You’ll know when you find the right one. A word of caution; the fitness industry is full of worthless certifications that only prove that person knows how to enter their credit card information into a computer. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could call yourself a personal trainer or coach tomorrow, so do some research before you dive in headfirst with someone.
Make it happen this year.