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The Resolution Revolution

The Road Ahead by mkrigsman, on Flickr

The Road Ahead by mkrigsman, on Flickr

Well, we made it!  The holidays are over, and 2015 is here and in full swing. So, I have to ask – how are those resolutions coming along?

According to a study in 2014,  45% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions; the number 1 being to “Lose Weight”, with “Staying Fit and Healthy” following along at number 4.  The study goes on to report that 64% maintain their resolution after the first month, and that number drops to 46% by 6 months.  Sadly, when all is said and done, a whopping 8% manage to succeed in their stated resolution.  With statistics like that, what can we do to make sure that we fall don’t fall into the group that fizzles out and loses steam by February?

For me it’s a simple matter of semantics.  Rather than making resolutions, I set goals.  What’s the big difference?  Let’s look at their respective definitions, according to Dictionary.com:

Goalthe result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

Resolution: A firm decision to do or not to do something

I love that the definition for goal includes the word effort.  Compare that to the definition of resolution quoted above – to my ear, it sounds incredibly passive.  Read both definitions again – which one do you find has a more positive and achievable connotation?

Be Specific

“I want to travel more” -meh.  Vague.  The more specific you are with your goal, the better.  If we instead say “I want to go to Disneyworld”, we now have something to work with. What’s the timeline?   How do you get to Disneyworld?  Fly or Drive?  How can you plan a trip if you don’t specifics?  The same is true for goals that fall into the scope of health and wellness.

So rather than “I want to get fit”, you have to decide what “fit” means to you and go from there.  Better to state “I want to do a pull-up” or “I want to run a 5K race”.  This gives you something concrete to work towards so that when you finally get there, you know it!

Think Big – Act Small

With a goal, I can break down my (often) lofty target into smaller, actionable chunks.  I can create a roadmap to follow that will take me from where I am – point A, to where I want to be – point B.  If I take a wrong turn, I can go back to my roadmap and guide myself back on track.  By focusing on the smaller steps (or the next turn, in keeping with our journey metaphor), I am less likely to lose sight of the ultimate destination.

Start by thinking big – really big!  Go wild.  What do you really want to accomplish?  Let’s say you want to put 50 pounds on your squat.  How can you do that?  If you employ a linear progression with your training, that would mean you’d add 5 lbs to your squat each time you lift.  Simple math then tells us that it will take you 10 training sessions to increase your squat by 10 lbs.  Break it down even further, and decide how many times per week you’re going to squat and you now know how many weeks it should take you to reach your goal.  You can think even smaller by then constructing each training day so that you’ve got a solid plan for each and every time you walk into the gym for the next 10 weeks.

Reassess, Revaluate, and Revise

We’re on our fictional journey from Point A (NYC) to Point B (Disney World), cruising along I-95 when lo and behold, there’s a traffic jam.  The road is a veritable parking lot.  Do we just sit there and wait it out?  Or do we seek an alternate route?  The only way to know is by using the data you have on hand in order to find out whether or not it’s a simple disabled vehicle (in which case waiting is likely the better choice) or if the road is closed ahead, which then necessitates a re-routing.

If your goal is in the realm of weight management, and your big-picture aim is “lose 10 pounds”, you have to gauge your progress as you go along.  For simplicity sake, let’s just say that you weigh yourself weekly (the importance or lack thereof of the scale reading is a topic for another conversation).  Things go along swimmingly for 2 months, when all of a sudden – nothing.  The scale won’t budge.  Rather than throw in the towel, the better option would be to take a step back and gather more data.  Do you look different?  Do your clothes fit better?  Have your measurements changed?

If you conclude that you’re really, truly at a plateau the next step is to examine what you’re doing.  Are you really following your nutritional and fitness plans?  Or have you missed a few workouts here and there?  Been more social than usual?  NONE of these are bad things, life is made for living and you can’t exist as a monk.  But sometimes all that’s needed to get back on track is to simply realize that you’re OFF track.

But what if the above doesn’t apply at all?  Then it means that it’s time you changed things up!  Shake up that workout routine, swap out some of your favorite meals for something else.  Apply different stimuli in order to get different responses.

Be Consistent

If we get tired (or bored) while driving from NYC to Disney, we may take a small break but we have to keep on driving.  If we stop, we’ll never get there.  The only way to get to the happiest place on earth is by knocking out that journey, one mile at a time.   The only way we can be among the 8% that ultimately achieves our goal is to continually work at it, one step at a time.  We can ALL get to Disney World, the question is whether or not drive through the night, or stop at South of the Border and stay overnight.  Choose the route that’s best for you and stay the course.

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