The holiday season is always my favorite time of the year. As many of you know I live in Austin, Texas – but every year in December I pack up my car (complete with my fluffy white samoyed) and drive all the way to Virginia to spend a few weeks with my family. Below are some of my favorite photos from the holiday time. My little sister was home from college and we are very close so it was amazing having time with her, and our house was decorated as always with all our favorite Christmas decorations.
It is so important to have time off to rest, relax and enjoy the people we love. I always encourage my clients to take time for themselves and not be afraid to focus on self care even as we focus on our loved ones during the holidays.
The great thing about a new year is the time for a fresh start. Even though we can always set goals and make change any time of the year…there is something symbolic about starting a new year that adds an extra level of motivation and purpose. Once family has gone home, cookies have been eaten and decorations have been put away – we begin to make plans for what we want to accomplish in the new year. For many people this includes goals for improved health, fitness and emotional wellbeing.
Although the stereotype of new year’s resolution made in earnest and tossed aside after 3 days is a stereotype for a reason…it is possible to set a New Years Resolution that you CAN keep and WILL last the whole year.
Here are my 10 steps for setting a New Years Resolution that you can ACHIEVE:
1.Choose Your Resolution Wisely – Set SMART Goals
The first step is to choose your resolution wisely. Choose something specific that you can measure, not something vague. A goal of “I want to be healthier” is not all that helpful because how will you know if you achieved that? Eating one salad? Cutting out alcohol? Working out more? Goals that do not have a specific set of criteria are easy to ignore and feel that you failed at.
A SMART goal is:
1. Specific – choose an actual criteria or set of criteria for what your goal is trying to accomplish.
2. Measurable – make success easy to measure. For example, determine a set amount of lbs lost or cholesterol improved so you can know if you attained it and have something measurable to work towards.
3. Attainable – do not set yourself up for failure by setting an impossible goal that will frustrate you from the beginning.
4. Realistic – if you choose a goal that is impossible and unrealistic this will not help your new year’s resolution be successful.
5. Timely – pick a timeline for your goal so you have a set time in which to reach it.
SMART goal example: “I want to loose 15 lbs in 2 months” that is very specific, easy to measure by weighing yourself, is attainable and realistic at about 2 lbs lost per week and timely because it has a set timeline.
2. Plan Ahead
Change is difficult, and changing something in your life that has been set for awhile is even more difficult. Things will not happen differently unless you PLAN how you are going to do them differently. If you have a health and weight loss goal, then once you set your SMART goal – set in place a plan for how you will achieve it. This might include joining a gym, subscribing to a workout youtube channel or buying home dumbbells. This also might include going through your pantry, throwing away left over cookies and buying healthy clean foods to eat. Planning is half of the battle when it comes to making change and without the plan – failure is inevitable.
3. Anticipate Barriers
Once you have your goal written down, think through what might come up that would keep you from following through. If you goal is to workout every morning – what would stop you from doing this? Once you have anticipated barriers….think about how you can overcome these problems and avoid them. Maybe you are worried that you will have difficulty waking up and need to make a plan to ensure you wake up on time. Maybe you are worried you will not have time to cook healthy food and need to plan a way to meal prep in advance. Troubleshoot ahead of time to have success!
4. Pick a Start Date
In order to commit you need a specific start date. Thinking that you will begin “eventually” or “some time in the new year” makes it easy to put it off every day. Set a specific date and mark in on your calendar so have no excuses and can commit officially to a date when you will start working towards your resolution. Once you have your start date – make sure all your planning is done before that date so you can start with everything you need in place.
5. Commit 100%
A New Year’s Resolution will not be effective unless you have committed 100% to the change. If your goal is to quit smoking for example, but you have not really dedicated yourself to this and decided it is what YOU want…success is not likely. There are a number of stages of change. Early stages include contemplating the change before actually preparing or taking action. If you are still contemplating your goal and are unsure you are ready to make the change, it will be difficult to commit 100%. Take some time and think about why your goal is important to you and why this is something you want to commit to.
6. Have Self Compassion for When Setbacks, Relapse, or Slip-ups Happen
Change is difficult and a long process. Often when people make New Year’s Resolutions they are very good at following for a few days, and then a slip up happens (maybe someone brought donuts to work) and people give up. Recognize that slip-ups and setbacks WILL HAPPEN. We are not perfect people, and goals are never achieved without challenges. Just because you have a slip-up or are not able to follow through one day – this is NOT the time to give up. Look at what happened and why and use this as important data for the next time. Maybe there was a barrier you did not anticipate? Or maybe you need a new strategy for overcoming a barrier you did anticipate? Relapse and setbacks are PART OF THE CHANGE and having self compassion for yourself when they happen.
7. Reward Yourself
Plan rewards for yourself as you hit small milestones on your journey. Maybe plan a fun day with a friend after your first week of healthy eating, or save money that you do not spend on alcohol for a date night with your spouse. Think of a way you can reward yourself for your hard work and help you stay motivated on your journey.
8. Stay Accountable
We all need to stay accountable with our goals. Plan workout dates with friends to make sure you go to the gym. Make plans with your spouse or roommate to cook healthy meals together so you are sure to actually do it. You can also connect with me on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram and tag me in pictures of your meals and workouts to stay accountable. Find what works for you but set up checks to help you stay on track!
9. Change Out of Self Love
Even though the new year is often a time people want to change or improve things about themselves, I believe it is important to do this from a place of self love instead of self hate. Wanting to lose weight because you hate your body and hate how you look is not a recipe for success. The negative self talk that surrounds those mindsets is damaging, unmotivating and leads to failure. Wanting to eat healthy and workout because you LOVE your body and want to give it nutritious foods and wanting to workout to keep the body you LOVE strong and healthy creates a positive mindset to start change from.
10. Love Yourself NOW and ALWAYS
Even though there are things we all want to change and improve…I believe it is important to love your self NOW, exactly as you are, even as we work to improve and grow. The two are not mutually exclusive. I think you can love yourself now, exactly as you are – and still want to work to grow in health, happiness and strength. Taking a long hard look at the way you talk to yourself and the messages you believe about your body is important. Make it a goal, along with weight loss or workouts or healthy eating, to be kind to yourself, support yourself and saying loving things to your body.
I wish you all an amazing, health and happy 2017! As always I am here to support you all along your heath and fitness journeys. Do not hesitate to reach out on social media to connect with me, tell me your goals and ask me questions. Comment below with YOUR SMART goals for 2017. Happy New Year!