Frustrated and pessimistic can barely begin to describe the overwhelming majority of people I meet. Many are awestruck by the discipline of others and foresee an intimidating uphill climb, which they have previously failed to conquer.
When facing the daunting journey of fitness, most people are simply looking at the wrong things. The way in which you set up your goals can be one of the most critical factors in predicting your success. Let me share with you some of my goal-setting secrets that have helped my clients and I stay fit and happy. After all being super fit is meaningless if unaccompanied by happiness.
The most common mistake in attempting to make lifestyle changes is to make them all at once. I was guilty of this myself as it’s hard to restrain eagerness and excitement for the sake of success. Research shows a discouraging 5% compliance rate when three or more habit changes are attempted. That percentage reaches 35% with two and soars to greater than 80% when just one habit is changed. It also takes between 4 and 6 weeks of consistent practice to form a new habit. With this information we can effectively change one habit at a time and gradually practice a new healthier lifestyle.
A helpful tool I use when designing programs is what I call a goal calendar. Each month a daily goal is selected and written at the top of the calendar page. Then every successful day is crossed off. If three or fewer days are blank by the end of the month it is time to select a new goal to work towards.
While determining a suitable goal is highly individual, there are some good guidelines to follow.
Choose a Simple Goal: Especially in the beginning make sure to pick a goal you can confidently complete every day. In order to be successful we must practice daily success.
Action Over Deprivation: Goals that require added responsibility are typically much more successful than those that require you to quit an undesired behavior. For example, if you wish to lower your carbohydrate intake at a meal, a good goal would be to begin the meal with a cup of fresh vegetables. This would be a healthier approach than attempting to simply stop eating sugary carbs.
Choose Something You Can Measure: In order to determine an accomplished goal it must be quantifiably measurable and not open to debate. Drinking more water is ambiguous, but drinking 20 oz of water every morning upon waking is specific and easy to judge.
Unhealthy lifestyles are formed by years of practicing bad habits. Unfortunately, permanently replacing them with healthy actions cannot be achieved overnight. The good news, however, is that habits most definitely can be changed and with time become second nature. With realistic goals, strong dedication, and a lot of patience, anyone can change their life if they are motivated to do so. I challenge you to join us for the month of (insert month), put the calendar somewhere you can often see it, and cross off each day you successfully accomplish your new goal. Every action is a choice, so let’s get to work and practice being healthy and happy!
To health and happiness,
Chris Caden CPT
North Hollywood CA