How does one set obtainable health and fitness goals for the New Year? This question comes up around this time every year. There is no right or wrong answer: It just depends on what is going to work best for you. The first thing I like to do when I have a difficult decision to make, is make a T-chart. I list costs (cons) on one side and rewards (pros) on the other. This helps me see pinpoint my thoughts vs. having them swirling in my head and the making unconscious decision. Once you have set your health and fitness goals, you will have a better idea of how important it is to you at this time. Of course, you can always say it’s not my top priority. But should it be?
Why set health goals?
Before we answer yes or no, let’s take a step back and ask ourselves why we are doing something. I always ask my clients what their goals are and why they want those goals. If you know what you want, but do not have a strong why behind it, it will be easy to get off track and fall into your old habits. Let’s say you have a family member who is obese. You see how much they struggle their lifestyle choices. This should be enough motivation to make a lasting change. However, you still do not stick to your health goals. Two years later, you have a child. Now, it is not only for you to change, but for you to be a good example for your child. You now know how serious you need to take your health to live a long, healthy life and raise your children with the same standards.
Get support in achieving your health goals
An important thing you can add to your “why” is mental health. Yes, physically, we need to take care of ourselves to live healthy lives, but if our mental state is inconsistent and wavering, then our results will be temporary. After the last couple of years through the pandemic, mental health has never been more important. People are starting to realize how critical it is to take preventative measures to stay healthy. We have also realized how much connection is needed. I am very big on the importance of community. Having someone with like-minded goals in your corner is key. Whether it is your spouse, a relative, or a friend, find someone to be accountability partners with. Work out together, create friendly competitions, and keep in mind that this is a lifestyle you are creating yourself. It will not happen overnight, so have patience with yourself.
Set specific, long-term and short-term goals
So, let’s get started. I would first recommend setting long-term goals for yourself. Maybe a one-year goal, a six-month goal, three-month, and one-month. You can work your way back from your goal. Yes, be specific with your goal. Whether it is wanting to drop 30 lbs., losing a certain body fat percentage, or gaining muscle. Then break it down from six months If your goal is 30 lbs., then that would be 15 in three months, and 5 lbs. every month. I would also tie in how you will feel once you achieve this goal. Something visual always helps me. Not only do you want your physical and emotional goals set but creating a mini celebration for each month you attain your goal will also be important. At the end of six months, when you attain your goal, maybe you cross something off your bucket list; skydiving, a big hike, scuba diving, a new pair of shoes, whatever fires you up. If you are a visual person like me, buy a large calendar that shows you every day. When you draw an “X” through each day, you feel accomplished. Once you get some momentum, the last thing you want to do is miss a day that you can’t cross off. Maybe moving your body twenty or more minutes per day, you get to cross the day off. Foam rolling, yoga, stretching all counts as well.
Be prepared for setbacks, and plan accordingly
One final thing you can do is to put yourself at the end of six months as if you failed. What went wrong? Once you are aware of the things that might distract you or get you off course, you will know how to better handle them when they do occur. For example, if I know I have a history of getting down on myself for not seeing progress, what will I do when I feel down? I will get some sun, put on my favorite song, and talk to my best friend. I will do something to get myself back into the zone. This is just an example, but if you have a plan for something that may come up, you will feel much more prepared and confident going for a goal.
Create a nutrition plan
Now that we have some goals set, the next step would be to create a plan. Now this all may all depend on how serious you want to get right off the bat. I do believe there should be a transition week or two, prior to starting, so you can get ease into it so your mind and body can adapt. There are many ways to go about a nutrition plan. My recommendation would be to either hire someone like a health coach or nutritionist. You can also calculate your macros, based on your goals, in numerous places online. Make sure you dispose of any unhealthy snacks in your pantry to avoid temptation. Next would be to lay out your options for your lean proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Take your list to the grocery store and figure out what you want to prep for that week. However, if you are busy like me, I also recommend looking into a meal prep company. There are some that are reasonably priced and some that will customize them for you and your needs. Depending on your schedule, you may have three meals a day, or two meals that are larger. Some people use meal replacement shakes to drink during work if they are working long shifts and only get one break to eat. I always recommend supplementing to make sure you are getting all your vitamins and minerals in throughout the day.
Try a new fitness regime
As far as fitness goes, I would say to choose something that you are going to enjoy. Get out and try new things. You can drop in and take a class. You can also get week-trials at some gyms and fitness centers. Environment is very important for me when it comes to working out. If I’m not excited to be there, it’s going to be hard for me to put forth the effort. You can always get a trainer. I believe learning proper form is very important as well as proper engagement of muscles.
Pay attention to your fitness form
Most people can perform a squat, but just because you are going through the same motion, it does not mean that the same mechanics are there. I’ll briefly talk about squat form since that is a popular exercise. Before any workouts, make sure you warm up properly and do some dynamic movements. If you are going to be working out your legs, it is essential to get your glutes, quads, hamstrings, etc. all fired up. You can use bands, but I like to do agilities and/or animal flow to warm up.
You can look on YouTube for these. I also recommend starting barefoot. You want to make sure your heel, big toe and pinky toe are in contact with the ground. Have your feet about shoulder and a half width apart. You want your knees to externally rotate as you sit down and back into the squat. Make sure your core is engaged especially on the way back up. Another thing to pay attention to is having a neutral spine. You don’t want to arch your back or round your back. You can have someone videotape you so you can see. Before adding any weight, start with air squats and get the form down. Whether it’s your nutrition or perfecting a squat, it will take time.
Enlist a friend workout partner
The important thing is that you are getting started. It’s OK if you fall, have a rough day or week. We have our whole lifetime to form good habits. Remember, it’s 1 percent better each day. Really, it’s like .001 percent better. Yes, let’s get disciplined and consistent, but have patience and allow for flexibility. Give your mind and body time to adapt and set yourself up in an environment to win. Enroll your family, a friend, significant other to do this with you. More people in your corner will make your life easier. Likeminded people with similar goals will help you stay on track and want to see you win.
Blaine Strong, is a fit lifestyle entrepreneur, with a passion to help people reach their fitness goals. He’s a fitness coach, model and influencer. Find him on his website. https://www.blainestrong.com/ His other SLB stories include Gained the quarantine 15? Here’s how to lose it.