Humans. If we had to pick the one thing we hate most in the whole world, it would be change. It is just our nature. Change involves doing something different, pushes us out of our comfort zone (our favorite place to be), and honestly, requires work! However, what we don’t see is the fact that our lives change in some way EVERY SINGLE DAY. So, if that doesn’t seem like a big deal, then why do we see some changes as being monumentally out of reach to the point that even trying feels like wasted effort? Well, there are a couple of reasons: A. Only looking at the big picture. B. Seeing the goal as a means to an end rather than a process. C. Not rewarding yourself for small changes along the way.
See, when it comes to fitness and living a healthy lifestyle, the change you really need to make doesn’t have anything to do with dietary restrictions, working out to the point of exhaustion, or a number on the scale. It is MENTAL change. When you can change your outlook, the way you look at your goals, and believe that you and only you are in control of your own life, everything else falls into place. I’m going to make mental change a series of posts, because as I said before, none of us like being inundated with change. We want to be successful and in control of our own lives. (Trust me, I know this for a fact. I’ve lived it)
The first catalyst to change is a decision. It is a yes or no question “Do I want to live a healthy lifestyle or myself and am I willing to make small changes to live the life I deserve?” Now if you didn’t answer “yes,” what were you thinking about? What was holding you back? See, we are hardwired to protect ourselves from change and avoid commitment. You may be thinking about all of the factors against you, speak negatively about your ability, have already determined the outcome, or don’t really know where to start. First you have to say “yes.” Then, I can show you where to start.
Have you said YES? If you still haven’t, write down why. We will tackle these in another post (or many).
OK, you’re decided to make a change. Now, you have to create a goal, a SMART goal.
First, your goal has to be specific. What do I mean by that? It has to state what you will do, how long, and how many times, let’s say, per week you will do something that leads you towards an outcome. Examples: “I will walk on the treadmill at 3.5 mph, for 30 minutes, five days per week.” Or “I will incorporate at least one serving of vegetables and one serving of fruit into each meal, 3-4 times a day, 6 days per week.”
Your goal has to be something you can measure. Why? Because you need to base your outcome on where you start and where you want to be. Looking at the walking specific statement above~ That can be measured using a calendar. Each day, when you perform that activity, you put a big star on that day. At the end of the week, you can see if you reached that 5 days per week goal. The easiest way to measure a goal of this nature is, of course, by weight. I don’t like relying on a number, but for many people, it’s a huge motivator. You have your baseline, or starting weight, and can monitor your progress very easily and even convert it into a graph. You could also calculate your BMI throughout your fitness journey or take body measurements weekly/biweekly/monthly.
This is where the “Aiming-Too-High” (aka ATH) article comes into play. Many times, people set goals so high that no human being could ever achieve. If you haven’t worked out in 10 years, don’t expect to be able to start working out 6 days a week for an hour each day. When you set unattainable goals, it’s setting you up for what you perceive to be failure. Instead, smaller goals should be set. They should be a challenge, but not so much of a challenge that they put you right back where you started. Goals should be small because at each milestone, you know you’ve achieved what you had set out to achieve. Then, you can set another goal. With each triumph comes more self-confidence, more motivation, and more self-efficacy. You know you can do it. Also, you can reward yourself! Give yourself some credit! We’ll go into this in a later article as well! 🙂
When you set a goal, there has to be a starting point and an ending point (goal attainment). Without it, you lose motivation because you feel like you can just do it “whenever.” There’s no deadline, so what’s the rush, right? There’s a reason we have deadlines. So, again, make it attainable. Don’t try to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Not possible. (Unless you didn’t eat or drink and exercised for hours each day….seriously, don’t do that!!) A more attainable goal might be to lose 6 pounds in one month. So, one month from that start date is your deadline. Now, what do you have to do to make it happen? We’ll work through that too, but remember, each and every person is different. There isn’t just one way to reach your fitness/wellness goal, trust me. Find what works for you. There’s more out there than you think! There’s a soulmate workout waiting for you. You just need to find it.
So, putting that all together, you can see how important setting a goal is. Without a goal, what are you working towards? Without a SMART goal, it’s hard to develop a plan for getting there. When you write your goal, put:
along the side of a piece of paper. Then, write notes so you can tie it all together instead of trying to think about everything at once. It’s easy to get confused and lose perspective. Think of it as an outline, a guide, a tool, for writing your goals. Take it one letter at a time! Creating a SMART goal is the first step on your trip towards becoming the person you want to be…. the person you know you are.