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Getting in Shape

Make your resolutions count!

Several tips can help you stick
to your goals throughout year


 
(January 2012)

Read previous Heather Foy columns!

Heather Foy

My online research, archived articles and personal interviews all summon similar New Year’s Resolutions. Traditionally, “Get Healthy Goals” soar at the top of the rankings.
Common goals and resolution this time of year are to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthy or improve (or just start) an exercise program. Jan. 1 always seems to be the perfect time to make a fresh start. This fresh start provides an opportunity to resolve to get healthy.
Motivation to start fresh might be exemplified from regrets of should-haves or simply guilt from too many super-size meals or the fact that your treadmill is still being used as a coat rack. For many, the thought of setting a New Year’s Resolution brings a rolling of the eyes and the memories of past resolutions-gone-bad.
For those skeptics out there who cringe at the words “New Year’s Resolutions,” eliminate the “R” word and think of the concept as goal-setting.
Setting goals is a harmless process, right? We set quarterly goals at work and develop a plan to reach them. Athletes learn how to set short- and long-term goals, and even use positive visualization to move closer to their destination. Think simplistic. Parents use sticker charts to track progress when it comes to helping our toddlers reach the important goal of potty training. The process of goal-setting can unleash potential and might be the baby step you need to get started.

workout cartoon

Focus your thoughts on planning your work – and working your plan. Legendary Dallas Cowboys NFL football coach Tom Landry states, “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”
I have witnessed countless attempts at starting and failing healthy habits during my 20 years in the fitness field. Growing up as a goal-orientated athlete and admitting publically that I am a detailed list-maker, I treasure a few tricks up my sleeve to help make you more successful with your New Year’s Healthy Goals (aka Resolutions, Intentions, Declarations, Purpose, or Ambition). Here are a few tips and life-lessons learned for how to and not to create and stick-to your new list:

• Give it some thought and be realistic. Don’t declare a resolution in a rush.
• Write it down and make it visual. Record your desired new healthy habits-to-be in a journal, on a calendar and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Reminders are a motivator. Consider writing down why you desire the change and what motivates you.
Example: I am going to take a walk with my children three days a week because I want them to see me exercising and I want to be healthy for their future.
• Tell a trusted friend about your plan. Not telling someone about your goal establishes no accountability. You are not asking them to nag you if you slip but simply seeking their support.
Examples: Tell your coworker that you are limiting fast food to no more than once a week. Email your best friend to tell her your goal of losing 20 pounds by May 1. Inform your spouse that you are getting up 45 minutes early four mornings a week to exercise.
• Be specific. Use dates, details and deadlines. Avoid a vague resolution like, “I want to eat better.” Instead, try saying, “This year I will switch from 2 percent to 1 percent milk and eat two vegetable servings at every meal.”
• Create a plan. Constructing a plan means identifying the exact steps necessary to help you reach your goal. If I set a goal to attend five exercise classes every week, I need to help myself find success. If this happens to be your goal, you can begin by committing to specific class days and time. Put them on your calendar (and stick to it) like a dentist appointment. Pack your exercise clothes and shoes in your car so they are handy. Have a friend meet you at a specific class to increase accountability.
• Set check-in “How am I doing?” dates and track daily or weekly progress. Develop a tracking system similar to how a child uses a chore chart. Use stickers to track exercise days, turning in your dietary log to a friend, or use an online tracking program.
• Consider starting simple. If you chose not to begin a complete “get healthy makeover,” start with one simple resolution. A friend recently shared that she was going to give up sodas and stick with water for 2012. Once your new simple step becomes a habit, chose a second change to tackle.
• Remain flexible. Do not give up or quit due to a setback. People striving to lose weight often have a “bad week” on the scale and decide to “blow their diet.” If you miss one exercise day, realize it doesn’t have to ruin your master plan.
• Celebrate your successes wisely. It’s obvious that you shouldn’t reward your five-pound weight loss milestone with a trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet. Shout out a “Yeah Me!” Pat yourself on the back and buy yourself a new pair of running shoes to celebrate your first three months of faithful exercise.
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2012!

• Heather Foy is a 20-year coach and group exercise instructor in Madison, Ind., who has been in the Wellness field for nearly 20 years. Email her at hnfoy@yahoo.com.

 

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