Each gym’s population increases ten-fold during the first week of January each year. But after only a few weeks into the month, many of the New Year’s resolution-ers have dissipated and fallen back into more familiar routines. What is the reason for this phenomenon?
Creating health-related goals is easy enough, but designing a challenge for yourself that isn’t too extreme, yet still is outside your comfort zone is not a simple feat.
Well-executed health and wellness goals should ideally lead to gradual lifestyle modifications. One common barricade to maintaining health and wellness goals is what life coach, blogger and author Jenny Blake calls the “all or nothing mindset.”
We have all fallen into the trap of labeling ourselves “failures” after an off day on the treadmill or a late night cheesecake slice. But if you’ve fallen into a cycle of crash-dieting, one-week exercise spurts and setting health goals that take fall flat as quickly as you implement them—it may be time to re-evaluate your goal-setting process and methods.
Set SMARTER goals. When you set better-crafted goals, you’re more likely to attain them. I was first introduced to this concept as a participant in a leadership workshop (this method is applicable to career and other life goals as well). Although long-term goals are necessary at times, short-term goals help us keep our eyes on the prize. According to Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed community service and leadership fraternity, “SMARTER goals” are:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
E = Evaluation
R = Revision
The underlying concept is to use small steps when hiking up a mountain. Really dig your heels in and celebrate each footstep. We are our own harshest critics, but strive to keep a positive mindset and reward yourself for little victories. Determine benchmark prizes and place pictures of them somewhere where you’ll see them each day.
Everything in Moderation
Although you will likely have set-backs, remember that this does not undermine your overall progress. When you fall down, get back on the horse. If a friend told you she skipped one day of exercise after hitting the gym for five days straight, would you berate her or tell her she’s doing great? Show that same compassion to yourself.
Going “cold turkey” on a perceived harmful part of your diet is not a good idea without the proper research. For example if you eliminated all fats, you would be starving your body of necessary healthier fats, such as those found in avocados and olive oil. Do not believe everything you read in magazines and non-doctor run health blogs- check out some reputable, scientist-approved sources such as the Mayo Clinic, MedlinePlus, and .
Try to avoid making extreme lifestyle changes that your body isn’t prepared for. This can lead to quick frustration and a lack of motivation. As cliché as it is, a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. When training for a large-scale fitness event, such as a marathon, write up a gradual plan for the months beforehand. You’ll be astounded at how much long-term progress is made when you build a bit upon your routine each day.
Health and Wellness tips to get you started
1. Drink your water and eat your fruits and veggies.
When you get into the habit of continuously drink water daily, you will help to flush toxins from your system and lessen the likelihood of dehydration. A simple rule of thumb I’ve tried for fruits and veggies is to fill up fifty percent of your plate at each meal with them. Although this method isn’t fool proof, it’s a great starting point that doesn’t involve counting calories.
2. Finally get your sleep cycle back in check.
Sleep can become a foreign concept for young adults, especially for college students. Choose to take the steps to getting a better night’s sleep tonight (not after you pull just one more all-nighter). Your quality of sleep affects overall productivity, energy levels, and mood.
3. Take vitamins appropriate for your body’s individual needs.
Consult with a physician about what is best. I take a multi-vitamin for women and a vitamin C supplement.
4. Eliminate exercise monotony. Try some of these fun indoor and outdoor activities:
- Hiking (find out about trail conditions beforehand, bring a friend and plenty of water)
- Indoor or outdoor rock climbing
- Ballroom dancing (check your favorite coupon sites for deals)
- Biking through a local park
- Jumping on a trampoline
Most importantly, discover your favorite physical activities inside and outside of the gym by mixing it up a little. Don’t get stuck in the same old routine, especially if you’re unhappy with it.
What are some of your health and fitness goals for the New Year? What steps are you taking to maintain them?