By Lisa Maguire
It happens every year. The parking lot is full. The treadmills are all in use. The group fitness classes see record numbers. Gyms everywhere are delighted to have a sea of energized, eager, and determined members who are committed to keeping their New Year’s Resolution. And much to our delight, some are very, very successful!
But just as the full tide comes in, it also goes back out. By March, the parking lot is no longer full, there are always open treadmills, and group fitness classes are no longer packed. But most distressing is that there are so many people who didn’t reach their goals and gave up.
Worried this might be you? We’re here to help! HAC believes in enhancing people’s lives – really and truly. We want you to be successful, and most importantly, we want you to be the healthiest version of you that you possibly can. So how can you commit to your fitness goals this year?
First, let’s look at creating good habits. A habit is something that we do almost without thinking. Every day we brush our teeth, put our shoes on, eat, and go to bed. So we need to transition our new year’s resolution behavior into automatic behavior. But how do we do that?
Set a goal.
HAC likes to use the SMART method of goal setting. Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Let’s say you want to lose some weight. We can make it specific by answering a few questions: How much weight? How are you going to achieve this goal? Why do you want to lose weight?
Specific Goal: I’m going to work out at HAC to lose 15 pounds so I’m comfortable in beachwear next summer.
This can get even more specific by setting days and times that you’re going to work out.
Now let’s add measurable into the equation. This helps add some accountability by giving you a concrete method to track your progress. You do have the goal amount – 15 pounds. Since results will take time, it’s good to have a plan to check in on things. Maybe you’ll weigh in once a week. You can also add things like before photos or body circumference measurements.
Specific & Measurable Goal: I’m going to work out at HAC to lose 15 pounds so I’m comfortable in beachwear next summer, and I’ll measure my progress by taking a before photo and my waist circumference, and weigh in every Wednesday morning on the scale.
Now we’re going to go a little out of order. Let’s set a timeframe. If the goal is over the course of too much time, it may not be challenging enough to motivate you, and if it’s over too short a period of time, it won’t be realistic or attainable. It’s January, and you’re looking to lose 15 pounds by summer. On average, most people can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week depending on how aggressive they want their diet and exercise regimen to be. So 15 weeks would put you into April. You have to remove 3500 calories a week in order to see a 1 pound weight loss. Removing 3500 calories solely through two nights of exercise a week is not realistic. So from this point, you would need to go back and modify your original, specific goal to include the revelations here. By the end, you might find yourself at:
SMART Goal: “I’m going to work out on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and I’m going to start packing my lunch instead of buying takeout, to lose 15 pounds by the end of 15 weeks. I will track my progress by taking a before picture, measuring my waist circumference, and weighing in weekly on Wednesday mornings.”
Find a trigger.
So now you have a goal – a SMART goal. But you still haven’t made it a habit. One of the easiest ways to create new habits is to link them to existing ones. It’s not exactly easy to throw in a 60-minute workout between brushing your teeth and putting on your shoes, but maybe on Tuesdays and Thursdays, your spouse doesn’t get home until 6:30 pm because they take little Johnny to soccer practice, so if you get off at five, and drive to HAC, you’ve got 90 minutes before any familial obligations. Let’s say you always do your grocery shopping on Saturdays. Perhaps you can link your Saturday workout to before or after you shop.
This scenario may not work perfectly for you, but if you can find little breaks in your schedule where you can remove a couple of the obstacles in your way, creating the new habit becomes that much easier.
Tip: If you have trouble holding yourself accountable or finding the motivation, trying a class, finding a workout buddy, or using a personal trainer are great ways to get started. We know hopping into that first class where it seems that everyone knows the choreography but you can be intimidating – fear not! They were all in your shoes once. Plus, classes are an easy way to make new friends at HAC!
Choose a reward.
And make it a good one! If you want to feel more comfortable in your beachwear next summer, try picking a reward like a couple of extra beach days or a new swimsuit or other summer clothing that you wouldn’t ordinarily buy. Remember to make these specific too – “On May 5th, I’m going to go shopping for myself, because all of my old beach clothes won’t fit!”