I have taught classes at the YMCA for several years and every year it’s the same. On Jan. 2 the place is packed. Treadmills are full, classes are waitlisted, and I have to wait to use the weight machines. Wow- this is exciting! Look at all these people who want to look and feel better.
Fast forward to Jan. 25. The Y is still fairly busy, but not like it was 3 weeks ago. I know in another month there will be even fewer people, by spring we will have lost at least half of those who joined with all sorts of great intentions. So..what happened? And why does it happen year after year? Here area a few of my observations.
>Many people have never set foot in a gym and have no clue what to do. I recommend booking a few sessions with a personal trainer. It is well worth the extra charge. I am also a big fan of joining classes. Trust me, no one is watching you, they are worried about what they are doing, not what you are doing.
>They work out like crazy for the first week and then feel like crap and can’t get motivated to do it again.
>They didn’t lose 10 lbs. in the first week so they give up.
>It is much easier to fall back on old habits than start a new one. Yes, laying on the couch is easy. But working out is more fun, you just need to make it a habit.
Let’s make a SMART action plan to help you make and KEEP those fitness goals.
Specific. Don’t just say “I’ll eat healthier” Say “I’ll eat 3 pieces of fruit on most days” and stick to it. I also like S for Small. Stop using your big dinner plates. Use your salad plate instead, it really helps keep portion sizes under control
Measureable. Use numbers to quantify frequencies and amounts. Instead of saying, “I will drink more milk,” say, “I will drink 3 glasses of fat-free milk per day.”
Achievable – Can you actually meet the goals that you are setting for yourself? If you haven’t been off the couch for years, don’t suddenly start working out for 90 minutes every day. Set an achievable goal like “I will walk 15 minutes 3 days per week” and stick to it, increasing the time as you build stamina. Walking 15 minutes everyday for a year is better than being an exercise nut for 3 weeks and then quitting.
Even if you need to lose 50 lbs, don’t say “I will lose 50 lbs.” Say, “I will lose 2 lbs. this week.” After you lose those 2 lbs, say ” Now I will lose 2 more lbs.” and so on.
Realistic – Saying that you will never eat dessert again is not realistic for someone who really enjoys those foods. Start out by having that piece of chocolate cake, but take half a piece or share it with a friend. The next time cut back to just a few bites. I’m told some people give up sweets completely but I’m not there yet!
Time Sensitive – Specify a timeframe for your goal. Instead of saying “more often” to decide how often you will eat fruit, say “twice a day, 4 days this week.” or “I will work out 3 times this week.” Schedule your workout time and put it in your calendar. Treat it like you would any other appointment that can’t be cancelled.
Be sure to write down your SMART goals and review them every day. Post them on the frig, on your workspace, in your car; anywhere that you keep them top of mind.
Being healthy is vital to life. Just as you spend many hours committed to your job, so shouldn’t you spend the time that it takes to be committed to a healthy lifestyle? This can only enhance your quality of life. So, there is no time like the present to invest in your well-being. If not today, when? Be S.M.A.R.T. Get started today!