by Jennifer Trimmier
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to throw out the old (the cookies, sodas and fried chicken) and bring in the new (the fruits, veggies and workout clothes). Resolutions are wonderful, but did you know that nearly 40 percent of well-intentioned people drop their resolutions within the first four weeks of the year? That’s why preparation and planning is so important. Here’s a 3-step approach to help ensure that you keep your health and wellness resolutions all year long:
1. Create a Plan
There are two rules in this step: 1) keep it simple, and 2) write it down. A good plan will allow you to follow-through, while a bad plan (or worse, no plan at all) will likely leave you at the same place in December as you were in January. Books like “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Eat that Frog!” speak of planning and goal setting from the very first chapters. In the latter, author Brian Tracy suggests “setting the table” by giving readers seven steps to reach any goal.
To keep it simple, I’ve borrowed from Brian Tracy’s book “Eat that Frog!” which states:
“Only about 3 percent of adults have clear, written goals. These people accomplish five and 10 times as much as people of equal or better education and ability but who, for whatever reason, have never taken the time to write out exactly what they want.
“So, get out the pen and paper, the notebook and marker or the iPad and notes app and get to it. Write down your No. 1 health-related goal for 2014 (we’re keeping it simple, so stick to one). Now set a deadline for when you want this goal to be accomplished. Bullet out, down to the very minute details, what you need to do to reach that goal. Post your goals, deadlines, and details somewhere they are visible to you every day (mine are printed in my daily planner, hanging on my closet wall and posted on my refrigerator door) and then do something every day that gets you closer to victory."
2. Track Your Progress
Seeing what you’ve accomplished is a great motivator to keep going. Tracking your workouts, meals or other tasks allows you to find what works for you and what doesn’t. Having a record of good days, bad days, and the outcomes of each will help you plot the best course for future success.
Free fitness apps such as My Fitness Pal, Livestrong’s My Plate, and LoseIt track food and activity while others like Map My Run and CardioTrainer use GPS to track activity and estimate calories burned. Most of these apps include social integration and allow you to build a positive network that provides accountability and support.
3. Reward Yourself
Most of us require external motivation to kick our rear in gear. When there’s a carrot dangling at the end of a rope (or a massage or a new pair of shoes), I’m definitely more likely to stick to my plan. Make it fun and give yourself something tangible to look forward to. Place rewards throughout your plan, not just at the very end. For example, during a 16-week marathon training plan, I allow myself to get a massage if I’ve completed 95 percent of my workouts at the end of six weeks. New shoes are the reward if I make it through 12 weeks. That shiny finisher’s medal and a spa day await me at the finish line.
At first, even this three-step process may seem hard, but you’ll likely find that getting started is the hardest part. Be sure to revisit your plan and goals periodically and modify them as necessary. All good plans allow for mistakes, re-dos and updates, so go forth without fear and conquer!
Still feel lost and unsure of how to start? Contact a professional to help you. Most personal trainers include goal setting, fitness planning and accountability services in their training sessions. Trainers and coaches can ensure you’re on the right track and lead you to success.
Jennifer Trimmier is an ACE-certified personal trainer who owns Strong Body San Antonio Fitness & Wellness Coaching. She provides at-home and on-location personal training and wellness coaching for individuals and groups. To learn more, visit www.strongbodysa.com or call 210-445-0448.