Did you set a New Year’s Resolution that related to fitness? Many people set resolutions like “I will lose 20 lbs this year, or I will gain 5 lbs of muscle this year.” Many times, our intentions are in the right place, then life gets in the way. Slowly, as the months go by, we forget what our New Year’s Resolution was.
Here are some tips to make this year’s New Year’s Resolution an achievement that you will be proud of.
First, let’s be realistic. With an optimal program, the average weight loss is 0.5% body fat/4 weeks; in that same time you can gain of 1 lb of lean muscle/4 weeks (Bernardi & Andrews, 2010). So, start by getting your calendar out and setting a realistic achievement date. For example, if you would like to lose 5% body fat, then your goal date should be 40 weeks away. If you a week-long vacation planned where you know your nutrition will be suboptimal and you won’t workout, then just add that week to the end of your plan. For example, a goal date 40 weeks away with a 1 week vacation = 41 weeks till goal achievement date.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “but I can lose 5 lbs in 2 days,” you are correct. However, that is water weight, not a real change in body composition. If you’re wondering how contestants on “The Biggest Looser” and other popular shows achieve fast results, there are plenty of books and websites on how to do this. However, if you want a real and sustainable change, stick with the science-based guidelines.
Second, set a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-oriented. For example, “I will lose 5% body fat in 40 weeks”.
Third, set the behavioral goals that support your outcome goals. Behavioral goals are month-by-month goals that you are in 100% control of. They support your outcome goal. Here are a few behavioral goals that can get you started on supporting a goal like the weight loss goal above:
1. I will drink 8 glasses of water/day.
2. I will sleep 8 hours/night.
3. I will perform my planned workout 45 min/day.
At the end of a week or month, try grading yourself A-F on your dedication to your behavioral goals. If you have all A’s, refine your goals for the next month. Try to stick with no more than 3 goals/month. If you have all F’s, let yourself start with a clean slate for the next month. It’s a new month and it’s OK to move on. Decide if you want to try your previous goals again, or refine them for the coming month.
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