When trying to get in shape, we often set our objectives very high—our brains go into overdrive and we want to run a marathon, lose 20 pounds, completely eliminate sugar and lift weights every day. While each of these objectives is attainable, they may be difficult to achieve all at the same time (and most likely, you’re destined for failure if you attempt to do so). Instead, stick to a few simple, realistic daily goals for at least a month (join the FBG January 2011 challenge!) and see what progress you can make toward your objective. Reward yourself for your accomplishments at the end of each month, and then move on to your next attainable goal. Before you know it, you’ll be reaching your goal of running that marathon or losing those 20 pounds.
Simple Goals, Simple Rewards
1. Be goal-specific. Define the activity, as well as the days, places and times that you will complete it. If you are vague about your intentions, you will be less successful. Make it an official appointment, however, and you’re less likely to miss it.
2. Write it down. Post your goals up somewhere you look every day, and put reminders in your cell phone and on your calendar. If you’re consistently reminded of your daily goals, they will stay top-of-mind, and you’ll be more likely to reach your objective.
3. Be realistic. At first, set attainable daily goals that can be easily reached, like “Do 10 push-ups three days per week.” After two weeks, increase that goal to 20 push-ups. If you make it realistic in the beginning, you can build on the habit and increase the challenge. You’ll feel proud of yourself for achieving your incremental goal; and tackling one attainable goal at a time will offer a greater sense of accomplishment.
4. Measure progress. Set a definite number of repetitions or minutes so that you know whether or not you’ve reached the goal. For example, “Do 30 minutes of cardio” or “Run two miles.” Set specific, measurable numbers that act as a target.
5. Know your habits. Track your routine and behaviors. Do you have a hard time stopping at the gym after a long day at work? Is it tough to drive past the donut shop without stopping? These actions are called triggers, and once you understand what yours are, it’ll be easier to stay on track, create a fail-proof environment and keep the routine.
6. Be mindful. Pay attention to what you consume. Keep a food journal to track everything you eat. Seeing your meals and snacks in writing always helps uncover patterns and imbalances. Bottom line, you can exercise for hours, but if you are consuming more calories than you burn each day, it will be hard to see significant progress.
7. Broadcast your efforts. It’s very important to toot your own horn. You can write a blog, e-mail a friend or tell your spouse. Share your daily workout progress with others. A few pats on the back from your loved ones can really help keep you motivated!
8. Visualize your goal. A good way to actualize your aspirations is to post magazine pictures of a person finishing a marathon, baring a flat stomach or flexing a well-toned arm where you will see them every day. These photos will give you a visual way to focus your energies. Other sources of motivation can be quotes, e-newsletters, motivational Facebook pages and music.
9. Simple rewards. We all love winning a prize for hard work. Reward yourself with a new outfit, a night out on the town or a massage. Or simply give yourself a pat on the back. Keep it basic and keep it coming!
And what better way to commit to your goals by sharing them in the comments? Tell us what you want to accomplish in the New Year and your plan for doing it! Also, a big thanks to Life Fitness for the tips! —Jenn