KEEPING YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION TO LOSE WEIGHT
Insight from University Park Mom and Co-Founder of StrongestMom.com™
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top New Year’s Resolution for 2014 was to lose weight, and #5 was to stay fit and healthy. And according to that same Journal, just 8% of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions. Most people attribute this failure to a lack of will power, but I have a different theory: people have trouble keeping their New Year’s Resolutions because they don’t follow the right process for goal-setting.
A resolution is really just a goal: a commitment to follow a path that will lead you to something you value. People who set goals are more likely to achieve the things they want for themselves, and the mere process of setting a goal and trying to achieve it actually makes people happier, even if they do not reach their goals. Of course, not achieving a goal can also result in a person experiencing a feeling of failure. However, if you set the right kind of goals, you will be much more likely to succeed. The problem is, many people do not understand how to set a proper goal.
Here are some tips for setting a proper goal.
First, frame your goal in a positive light. Everyone has things they want to change about themselves or that they think they can do better. I know I do. Avoid beating yourself up and think about your goal in terms of a positive change. Second, think big picture about what you want to achieve, what habits you would like to form (and get rid of), and the actual concrete steps you can take to get there. Third, understand exactly what you are trying to accomplish. Set a time frame to accomplish a goal with achievable short-term goals to help you reach the long-term goal. And be sure and reward yourself for reaching those short-term goals. Fourth, make sure the goal is realistic and achievable. Fifth, make sure your goal involves you alone. Avoid setting goals that involve the actions of other people or things beyond your control. Finally, write down your goals and tell them to others to increase accountability.
Now let’s put those principles into action in a concrete way involving fitness.
Let’s start with the wrong way to set a goal: I want to lose weight. Why? Because I feel fat. How? I will diet. Time frame? 10 pounds in two weeks. Anything else? Yes, while I’m at it I will also make my spouse lose weight, but if I tell him about it he’ll just get upset. These goals are vague (what’s the diet plan?), negative (I feel fat), and probably unrealistic (too much weight too fast and whether your spouse loses weight is up to him, not you).
Here’s the right way to set a goal. Start with a positive by visualizing what you want to achieve. This will help you on the second step, of thinking big picture. Is “losing weight” really your goal? Or is it to look and feel fit? Most people if they thought about it would choose the second option. Now, think about the habits that will get you there: exercise and diet. While there are many fad diets, the fact is that with exercise, just eating sensibly will cause you to burn fat and look and feel better. As for exercise, choose something you enjoy that gets you moving. I also recommend adding strength training to the regimen because that builds lean muscle and muscle burns fat, even when you are sleeping! Now figure out what you can realistically accomplish: strength train X times a week for Y minutes each time, combined with Y minutes of aerobic exercise X times a week. Be realistic with your schedule and include associated time, like driving to and from a gym if that is where you choose to work out. Think of a way to reward yourself if you keep your schedule that first week, and so on. If you want to involve your spouse, resolve to do things you control, like asking him to exercise with you or presenting healthier choices for meals. Then, write down your goal and tell people about it to increase your accountability.
If you fall off the wagon, resolve to get back on. Just make a plan and do what you can! Follow these steps and I know you’ll be happy you made a resolution for this New Year!
Niccole Maurici is a University Park resident, full time mom of four and a former certified personal trainer. She is the co-founder and creator of the StrongestMom.com™ website and fitness videos. StrongestMom.com™ 30-minute videos and be+positive™ messages help moms be the strongest they can be, both mentally and physically.