Those are my Official New Year’s Resolutions. Health-related and easy to execute. Obviously, I have many other goals – but I’m not labeling them Official New Year’s Resolutions. Saying on January 2nd that I’m going to lose weight and get healthy, well, is a painful rerun of Resolutions Past, and Round Two of this journey is much more important to me than that.
So let’s talk about setting goals. You must set goals. If you don’t, how will you know you’ve achieved anything? And how will you know when it’s time to reward yourself for a job well done?
It’s important to note that your goal does NOT have to be a number on the scale. I have long railed against the number on the scale, because it’s just one piece of the overall health puzzle. I’ve known plenty of people with “good” numbers on the scale, and lousy numbers in other areas. However, it’s what most people turn to, it’s easy to track at home (compared to your body fat percentage of cholesterol levels), and it is important. So set a weight-related goal, but let me encourage you also to choose a goal that is something more tangible and rewarding, something you can share, something that has more meaning.
For instance, your goal could be to complete a 5K in, say, March or April. It’s a community-type event, probably for a charity – so you’re getting fulfillment beyond your personal accomplishment. And a T-shirt! Whee! In order to complete a 5K, regardless of your experience or level of fitness, you’ll have to have a training plan, and follow it. You can’t help but stay on track, as long as you’re focused and committed. If it’s been years since you’ve walked further than from the couch to the fridge, then you’re not going to break any land speed records by this spring – but who among us will break any land speed records, ever? The goal isn’t to win the 5K. It isn’t even to run the 5K. It’s to complete the 5K, and follow through with the training plan to get you there. The journey is the destination, man.
Another goal I like is to complete a certain number of workouts (or exercise sessions, call them what you will) per week. Be ambitious, but be realistic. For you, two sessions per week could represent a vast improvement, and could be a good place to start. Most people should start with three, then move to four, and eventually five (or six, if you get into Athlete Mode). Write it down and commit to it: three 30-minute walks this week. Which days will you walk? What time of day? Who will go with you? What do you need help with to make sure it happens? Maybe you need prodding to get out of bed an hour early; maybe you need someone else to do the dishes after dinner so you have time to focus on your goal. Do what you have to do.
You can also set an eating and nutrition-related goal. Try increasing your water intake, if you’re not good about hydrating. Replace an unhealthy snack (Cheez-Its, how I love thee) with a better choice (carrots and hummus, I also love thee, and apples and cheese, and almonds). Make your lunch instead of eating out, cut out the Starbucks run (or get plain coffee instead of whappa-lappa-sugar-bomb-a-ccinos), skip the cheese dip at the Mexican restaurant (or skip the Mexican restaurant entirely, those places are minefields). Take one or two aspects of your diet that need to change, and change them. Then, pick a couple more, and change them. And so on, and so on.
Positive change begets more positive change. If you’re being more active, you’re going to want to make better food choices. If you’re making better food choices, you’re going to have more energy and you’re going to want to move around more. As you make positive changes, the people around you will see the changes, and the changes in you, and they may be inspired to make changes of their own. If not, they’ll at least be proud of you and cheer you on. If not, well – then we’ll deal with sabotage in a future entry.
For my part, I’m committed to using sunscreen every day. I’ve been woefully lazy about it, and I’m more than old enough to know better. I’m also committed to taking fish oil supplements. The research and my colleagues’ experience are compelling.
I’ve also committed to a popular home-based exercise protocol. Santa brought us the program, and we’re ready to complete it. More on this as we actually start it – we still have some prep ahead of us. Like hooking up a DVD player to a television in this house. Don’t get me started on that … how about a resolution of “be less chaotic?” Anyone with me?
Today is Square One, friends. What’s your goal?