SETTING REALISTIC HEALTH AND FITNESS GOALS FOR THE MODERN WOMAN
"New Year, New You" is a common theme circulating around the health and fitness circles as women sit down to write out their personal and professional goals. It's tempting to want to make a lot of changes at once to reach your "ideal self" sooner rather than later. We all want a quick fix, immediate gratification, or fast turnaround time - that is a natural desire and consequence of living in the modern age. In fact, moms, in particular, are notorious multi-taskers and juggle multiple schedules simultaneously. Research studies have debunked the myth that you actually get more accomplished that way though. It has been shown that mastering one change or habit creation, aka baby steps, actually creates more self-efficacy and long-term sustainable results.
As much as we want to change our eating habits, connect with our family in a deeper way, experience body composition transformation, excel at our business, and invest in our friendships all that same time, if those aren't already lifestyle changes that have embedded within you, it might be discouraging when you realize that you can't "do it all." This is why so many diets, plans, and resolutions fail pretty early on.
So, how can you make plans and goals for the year that you are more likely to actually achieve? The first step is creating goals that you are more likely to follow through with, stack upon each other, and that align with your values as a woman.
5 TIPS FOR ATTAINABLE GOAL SETTING
1. Focus on one step or habit at a time.
Master one habit at a time before adding or stacking another one. You can take two weeks at a time and try to achieve 80% compliance. If you find that you are having difficulty making this goal work for you, it might be a good idea to reassess why the goal is important and how realistic the goal is for this season of your life. I really like the 5 Why's exercise for getting down deep with why you want to accomplish your goal to determine if it is truly of value to your life.
You can download the form here.
2. Be realistic and get honest with yourself.
You want to create habits that can be easily integrated into your life or that you can stack upon each other. If getting up to workout at 5 AM in theory sounds like a good idea, but you are having trouble getting to bed before 11 PM. First work on setting an earlier bedtime to make sure that a healthy sleep routine is established before trying to begin a new workout schedule. This is where the big rocks and little rocks analogy is important. If you are still working on mastering the big rocks in your life: sleep, stress management, mental/emotional wellness, daily movement, and nutrition, then the little rocks, like adding new workouts, supplements, or macro counting are going to be more difficult to integrate into your life.
A realistic goal is easier to achieve and creates confidence that you are making progress. If you want to go vegan this year but absolutely detest vegetables, this goal might not be realistic FOR RIGHT NOW. A better goal would be to try 1 new vegetable per week or cook one vegetable 3 different ways per month. Having self-awareness goes a long way when you are trying to make positive changes in your life. Questions to consider are: Who am I? What do I really want? What am I capable of in this season? What do I have space for in my life or what do I need to make space for?
3. Enlist Support.
This is huge for accountability. If hiring a professional isn't an option, maybe ask for help from family or friends or join a Facebook Group. Sometimes even posting about what you are doing and talking about it with others can help you stay on track.
4. Make it measurable, specific, and time-bound.
Have a consistent way to track your progress, write everything down!!! You can take to pen and paper, use an app, or create spreadsheets. Having a way to monitor progress will help you to see that changes are happening albeit slowly or in small increments. Any progress is progress!
Be specific as to what you hope to achieve. "I want to start running" is a great start. But in order to be more specific, you might state "I want to accumulate 3 miles per week of running" or "I am going to train for a 5K." With nutrition, this might look like instead of saying "I am going to eat healthier" you might say "I am going to eat a vegetable with 2 out of 3 meals per day."
Finally, having a deadline or some type of time parameter helps to focus your efforts. With our running example, it might look like "I am going to run the Spring 5K on March 30." With the nutrition example, you might say "I am going to add vegetables to 2 out of 3 meals for 3 weeks and then add another serving if that is achieved."
5. View failure as feedback and get flexible.
What you might see as failure is actually just information you can use to make adjustments to your goal or pivot entirely. You can view everything as a personal experiment. If I do this or don't do this, what will happen? Documenting your experience either publicly or privately can help you to examine what went well and what could be improved upon. Regular reflection of the process and progress is vital to assess how things are improving and what needs attention. This is where personal coaching is really helpful. It provides a pre-determined time, weekly, biweekly, or monthly to meet and go over your efforts.
Long-term goals and plan are critical to creating lasting change and sustainable habits, the real work is done on a daily basis in small, incremental steps. Breaking down your ultimate goal into quarterly plans, months actions, weekly routines, and daily habits will ultimately create the well-curated life that you desire and deserve.
Click this link, to work through your own goal setting.
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