‘I want to lose weight’ is a common refrain, especially at the beginning of every year. But, that resolution will not take you far without a concrete plan. You’ll be more successful if you know your goals and how to achieve them. “Fitness goals are very important. You wouldn’t get in your car and just start driving. You have to have specific destinations like going to the grocery store or picking up the kids. The same goes for your workout goals,” says Joel Harper, New York City-based celebrity trainer.
Think big. It’s best to explore all the goals you want to accomplish and from there on, condense them and determine which ones are realistic.
“It’s crucial that you have both long and short term goals. Short term goals are what keep you motivated on a daily basis, because they are bite-sized and can be tackled easily. You have a sense of accomplishment when meeting weekly goals. The big goal is just as important, because you need to have a vision that keeps you on track for the long haul,” says Susannah Van, a fitness expert and personal trainer in North Carolina.
Put these goals up on a mirror, your desk, the refrigerator, or even list them out on the note app of your smartphone for inspiration.
Establishing a clear, concise, time-bound goal is necessary for helping you plan. What is your goal, why do you want it and how will you achieve it? Joel gives an example. “I want to lose 10lb by April 1. I want to fit into a size 4 dress by the time my son finishes this school year.” Such timelines help you set up your mini goals. “This week I will exercise on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for 30 minutes. I will not eat 3 hours before going to bed and I will not go back for seconds.” Such specifics will teach you to respect your goals.
Keep It Real
Don’t kid yourself. Setting lofty goals may sound good, but may not be possible to achieve. For example, if your goal is to lose 10lb in a month, but you have a hectic work schedule and you’re eating a lot of junk food, you’re setting yourself up for failure, even before you’ve begun.
Your plan should fit in seamlessly with your schedule, depending on the kind of time you can realistically commit. Susannah advises a simple thing like aiming for 2-3 hours of exercise a week. “You need to think about what is doable. It may be great to work out 5 days a week with a strength and cardio program, plus eating clean every waking hour, but is it realistic with a full-time job, family and weekly events that are out of your control? Maybe 2-3 days and simply cutting sugar is a better choice. That way, you can stick to it and still reach your goals,” she says.
If you have specific criteria for monitoring and tracking your progress, you are more likely to stay on track. “Keep a journal and weigh in if your goal is weight loss. So every morning at the same time, weigh yourself and write it down. This helps you be accountable. If you want to change dress sizes, try on the dress you want to wear every single day. It is a reminder of what you want to accomplish. This taps into your subconscious mind and helps you make positive choices throughout the day,” says Joel.
“You want to keep track with multiple modes of measurements. A food journal, a weighing scale, progress pictures or even tape measures; no single mode tells the whole story,” adds Susannah.
Above all, it is important to have fun and reward yourself. To truly celebrate your weight loss, try shopping to dress the new you instead of eating out, for a change.