So the lazy days of summer are over. No more lying around the pool or on the beach as the time slips by. For many of us, summer house share, vacations and having the kids home from school leads us to neglect all of our otherwise healthy eating and exercise habits. Sound familiar? Well now is the time to get back to the basics of healthy habits. Just as the school kids are beginning a new chapter in their lives, so can you. With a little strategic planning, you can smoothly fall back into your healthy routine or maybe even start one!
The first step in reestablishing healthy habits is to assess the current situation; assessing both exercise and nutrition. Did you actually cease all cardiovascular activity on June 1st, or where did you make it to your favorite spin class once a week? Or did weeks of barbecues turn your skinny jeans into a distant memory?
Once the situation has been assessed, it’s time to determine your goals. When determining goals, here are a few guidelines that may be helpful. First, establish an overall “bigger” goal. For example, instead of saying, “I want to lose 15 pounds” ask “what will I be able to do when I lose 15 pounds that I find difficult or extremely challenging at my current weight? Many clients have answered with, “play with my grand kids” or “walk up the stairs without feeling short of breath.”
The important point to remember when establishing the big goal, is to think beyond the immediate quick goal, but to reach for a bigger, deeper and perhaps more meaningful goal. The second step is to establish a weekly goal that will help you achieve the overall bigger goal. A simple approach is to make several small weekly goals. For example a weekly fitness goal might be spin class 3 days a week instead of once a week. And the nutrition component might be, eat 2 servings of fruit a day instead of twice a week.
As each week passes, reassessing the each weekly goal is important. Suppose you have been making the three spin classes a week, can you make it four or perhaps add another day of exercise? Are you finding it difficult eating two servings of fruit a day? How about one serving a day? By tweaking the weekly fitness goals in to manageable and doable goals, the overall goal may not seem overwhelming.
The key to setting and achieving your goals is to think “SMART” and follow the basic principles of goal setting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timeline. Every time you set a goal, measure it against each of these criteria. If the objective isn’t say, realistic, then tweak it so it is more manageable.
Once the goal or goals are established, simplify. Boil down the goal to one specific sentence, so instead of “I want to go to Paris someday, make the goal “I want to go to Paris in April.” If you need to many words to explain you goal, chances are it may be too big or too complicated to tackle all at one time.
Make the goal meaningful. Set an intention that is significant to you and not anyone else. If you want to lose 10 pounds make sure the weight lose is for you and not to please someone else.
Find a “goal” model. Know someone who has achieved what you are trying to do? Ask questions of people who have successfully accomplished similar feats. By doing so you will gain insight from their perspective as well as learn from their do’s and don’ts.
Now that you have a better understanding of goal setting and some useful tools to create your goal, what are you waiting for? Today is the day to start a new journey on the path to reaching your goals!