‘Tis the season. Get ready for all of the “new year, new me” posts, resolutions, and promises. It’s the gym owner’s favorite time of year. And it’s when all the “before” pictures are taken that will flood social media from April til June.
But how many of those before pictures will never make it to the internet? How many people will quit their dreams by Valentine’s Day? Does that sound like you? Have you ever quit your fitness/health goals after 8 weeks into the new year because it was too hard? Or are you one of those people that doesn't even set fitness/health goals because you know you won’t follow through?
Then there’s the rare case of person who refuses to quit but struggles through 4-6 months of change just so they can look good for June-August. Let me give you all some advice so that you are set up for success.
There’s no need to quit because your life is too hard. There’s no need to fear setting goals because you won't achieve them. And there’s certainly no need to be miserable for the next 6 months because you want abs.
So how do you get back on track for the post-holiday season? You start with acceptance.
You need to accept that everything that has happened from Thanksgiving until now (over even before that) cannot be magically forgotten and you can’t just shed that extra 15lbs over night. What’s done is done. But it’s okay, because your new goals are going to fix everything!
And even better, YOU’RE NOT ALONE! Thousands of people are in the same boat as you. Including myself. Yup, I just admitted it. I’ve gained 12lbs since October and I’m about to start on a journey just like you.
So take a second. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and tell yourself: what’s done is done. And on the exhale tell yourself that you’re going to fix it all starting now.
Now that you’ve accepted that the Holidays got the best of you, it’s time to start setting goals. This is the part where most people set themselves up to fail. First, decide on your long term timetable. For me, it’s 5 months. I set Memorial Day 2017 as my end goal. By Memorial Day, I want to lose 15lbs.
Now that might seem daunting to some people. 15 pounds! Holy shit! I can’t do that! But take a step back and break it down. Once you know what your long term goal is break it into achievable short term goals.
So instead of saying I need to lose 15 pounds over the next 5 months, I’m starting by saying I need to lose 3lbs by the end of January. Three pounds over four weeks. Less than one pound per week. Sounds much less scary than 15lbs all together doesn't it?
For the next four weeks, all I care about are my January goals. Lose 3lbs by Jan 31st and work out a minimum of 4x per week every week. That’s it. Keep it simple, and set yourself up for success.
TIP: Write your goals down. Whether it’s on a piece of paper or in a word document. And separate them out by weekly, monthly, end goal, etc. Being able to see these goals in physical form will help you stick to them. And if you’re like me, give you the satisfaction of checking them off when you hit them.
When I get close to January 31 I will sit down and re-evaluate my goals. Did I achieve what I wanted to? Why or why not? Then I will write down my goals for February. Again, my goals might be losing 3lbs by the end of the month, but because I know it will be a busy month for me, my gym goals are working out 3x per week every week. And for the whole month of February I only focus on those goals.
I will sit down and do this every month until I reach my end goal at Memorial Day. Every month I will only focus on the current goals, not the overall picture. When you focus on small chunks, you have a much greater chance of being successful.
Re-evaluating is important to achieving your goals. What if you go over your goal and lose and extra 2lbs in one month? Well you can choose to either stick to your original plan of Xlbs for the next month or reduce it by the extra 2lbs and have a little less stress that month. Totally up to you.
Flexibility is key, and always being realistic and honest with yourself will set you up for success. For example, say that I know April will be a tough month for me because I have two vacations planned. Maybe my goal is to hit the gym 3x per week, but I only want to lose 1lb by the end of the month. I would need to pick up the slack somewhere, so maybe I push March and May with losing 4lbs each month.
Notice how I never mentioned anything about only eating 900 calories a day, or following a strict Paleo diet, or counting literally everything that goes in my mouth. Obviously diet will be a big part of this in addition to exercise. But the main thing is to just make sure you eat real food. Leave the cakes, cookies, and candy from the holidays behind you and move forward toward real food that you have to cook on a stove top or oven, not in the microwave.
I recently read an amazing article about how to be lean and eat whatever you want. This jist of it is this: whenever you are not in a social setting (eating at home, by yourself at work, while traveling, etc.) eat clean and healthy. All real foods. Whenever you are out socially with friends, co-workers, or family, eat as you please. That pizza and beer won’t kill you when the other 80-90% of your day or week has been spent eating healthy. There will be a link to the full article in this week’s Weekly Readings that will be coming out this Friday at 2pm. So be on the lookout. It’s a great read!
The point is, you need to be flexible. You’re not going to stick to anything that makes you miserable.
So in order to guarantee your success: accept where you currently are at, make sure you set REALISTIC goals and write them down, re-evaluate every month, and be FLEXIBLE!
If you’re interested in learning more about anything I just talked about, or you need help setting goals, creating plans, etc. please feel free to shoot me an email at email@example.com. I will be more than happy to help you out any way that I can.
Happy New Year, New You!