With the new year approaching quickly, I thought it would be prudent to share some tips on goal-setting.
Many people are going to vow to “lose weight and get in shape” this year both through exercising and dieting. Many will also fail.
This change (or failure to change) all starts with a game plan and if you can get started in the right direction, you may just survive.
Here are 3 tips to help you with that.
TIP 1: MAKE IT BEHAVIORAL (AND MAKE IT FUN)
No one loses weight by doing the activity “losing weight”.
Weight loss happens when our body becomes better able to burn our current caloric intake or we adjust our calories [slightly] lower so we don’t have to burn as much.
Behaviors that contribute to this are:
- Getting More Sleep. Make it a game/more interesting by wearing a ZEO.
- Eating Better. No special diet is necessary, just eat better than how you are eating now. For most, this means more whole foods (see: unprocessed). A strategy that has been successful for both myself and others is to eat primarily whole foods during the week (experiment with cooking?) and whatever goes on the weekend (reward: eating out?).
- Engaging in Resistance Exercise. The more intensely you train, the more supercharged your hormones and metabolism will be which will not only allow you a few eating hiccups but will give you more energy throughout the day. On top of this, more intensity equals far less time spent needed to exercise. In fact, to reach your goal, you will probably only need to spend 1 – 2 days a week for 20 – 40 minutes doing this. To make that a reality, recruit a training partner or trainer, join a competitive environment such as a training group or a gym, and/or dedicate yourself to chasing an ambitious goal such as competing in a Tough Mudder.
Whatever your outcome goal is, try to attach a behavior to it.
TIP 2: BREAK IT DOWN (INTO SMALL MANAGEABLE CHUNKS)
So your “I want to lose 50 lbs” goal is now “I want to compete in a 5 mile obstacle course”.
What’s the next step?
If you are not currently exercising, aim for the smallest most comfortable step you can take to get you to that behavior.
There is no need to rush into this and start exercising hardcore 4 times a week. Not only is this killer on your body but it will freak your brain out as well.
Instead, aim for teeny weeny change such as one 20 minute workout a week. Still, this may be too scary. If it is, go buy workout clothes OR go for a 1 minute walk OR do some research for your goal.
The key here is to always be moving forward however small that step that is.
Inch by inch its a cinch.
With this, you will eventually get to where you want to go.
Note: On the same token, attempting 1 small goal is ENOUGH. As Resolutioners tend to prove time and time again, the more one takes on (like trying to change diet and exercise at the same time), the more likely one is to fail. When in doubt, change one small thing at a time.
TIP 3: BUILD THE ENVIRONMENT (AND IT WILL COME)
When we are moving towards this goal we have in place, what is most important is not burning calories but building the habit. If we can make it a habit, we can make it automatic. With this, we can even make weight loss unintentional.
How we do this is by making our options more health/fitness friendly.
Because willpower is a limited resource (and when it gets drained we make shitty decisions), we must make sure the decisions we make are good one even when they are bad.
For example, I tend to only keep whole foods in the house. Regularly, veggies and meat is my main food. When I want to get “naughty”, however, I will cook up yam fries in heavy coconut oil. Both are wins, right?
Sure, I eat ice cream and pizza from time to time, but it is not a fixture in our house. If it was, I’d eat it every night.
Bottom line: If crap is in the house, crap will be eaten. “But it’s for my ___” ==> Shouldn’t they have the right to eat awesome too?
Working out at home is similar. Give yourself options (ie different equipment and routines) so that it is exciting enough for you to want to exercise even when you really don’t.
I’ve found, however, that we can only do so much in this arena. We are social creatures so, of course, our environment is filled with other social creatures. These people will impact our goal more than a cupboard full of treats ever could.
We may not be able to “get rid of” people in our circle that are negatively impacting your goal, but we will certainly be able to bring in new ones that will help spur us forward.
If you are scared, find others that can help make it less scary.
If you think you can do it yourself, look back at your track record and be honest about how much your goal really means to you. If you are not really good at “change” and/or this goal is “high value“, you may want to look outside yourself.
For example, I hired out for this website. Looks pretty nice, right? This is what it looks like when I try to do it myself (gross…).
In the end, people are the most critical environment piece. If you can get that down, you may not even need a goal. The environment will take care of it all.
And with that, you may just survive…