You want to make this coming year YOUR year, every sign in the sky is showing that this is happening. Absolutely NOTHING will stop you this time!
Two thirds of Britons are making New Year resolution of getting fitter and losing weight and 80% of those resolutioners succumb to the old habits, mainly within the first month. What happens next is a period of giving up, frustration, and self-ridicule. Then we forget about it, so we can do it all over again next year.
This is how it happens to most of us. Frankly, it’s quite depressing.
How to get out of that rut?
What makes the 20% so successful that they follow through with their resolutions?
Goals have to be realistic
Setting up a goal is usually a wishful thinking process; it goes something like ‘I would like to achieve X (be it certain weight or size) by Y time (usually unrealistic time frame)’
Problem here is three-fold
1. Setting realistic time-frames for your expectations
For weight loss, it is realistic to think of losing 0.5% - 1% of your current bodyweight per week. This is 10 TIMES LESS than what contestants on shows like The Biggest Loser lose.
It may seem like a small difference but the mind shift that is required for such small loses is huge. Don’t think big.
Let’s say you weight 200lbs (14 stone or 90kg), you are aiming at losing 1 – 2 lbs per week ( 0.4kg – 1kg).
Even though it may seem like a pathetic result (due to unrealistic expectations set by the aforementioned shows and similar), and no one will notice it initially but, over 12 weeks time it is still a 24 lbs weight loss (almost two stone or 10kg). And this is amazing!
More important, it is realistic and possible to do it and keep it off.
2. We focus on the goal rather than a process
Close your eyes for a minute and think of two people, let’s call them Ben and Jerry (you can guess my dessert after last nights dinner, can you buttercup?:)
Ben wants to lose weight and that is where he leaves it, he looks at some fat-free or low-calorie options in the shop to swap his usual breakfast and lunch choices, decides to make a smoothie for a snack, and throws some typical health buzzword foods, like kale and goji berries and hope for the best.
Jerry wants to lose weight as well, but he wants to control the process, Jerry wrote down a list of things he knows he needs to change (wine in the evening, one to many tablespoons of dessert after the wine, chocolate bar in the afternoon, etc.) and decides that some of these are easy to replace with lower calorie options or forego altogether.
Do you think these guys will achieve similar result? More importantly, which one do you think will stick to their New Year resolution longest?
Focusing on the process and looking at things that are within your grasp are much more powerful strategy to achieve your goals.
You can’t know for certain when you will achieve your goal but, you can start behaving NOW in a way that will help you get there.
You can open your eyes now.
3. We don’t have emotional attachment to our goal.
We often throw our goals in the air based on our previous experiences and friends’ suggestions. We rarely identify ourselves with our goals.
Truth is, meaning comes from internal dialogue and only you can decide what is truly meaningful for you.
Losing two stone? Sure, it will make you look better in that dress but, think of the moment that your knees will hurt less from playing with your children or that your fitness will allow you to tick that Machu Picchu trek off your bucket list like you promised yourself for many years. Now this is way more powerful.
Find the deeper meaning in your goals and immerse yourself in the process.
Motivation doesn’t last
A popular quote says that motivation is like bathing, doesn't last so you have to repeat it.
I disagree. Motivation doesn’t have to be repeated, it comes and goes by itself.
Let’s compare motivation to driving through Italy, one scenario is with a Sat-Nav and knowing the language, and the other without the navigation or linguistic skills.
Starting with the latter.
Let's say you start in Bologna, 54 metres above the sea level, and let's say that sea level here represents your motivation threshold, the higher it is, more motivated you are.
Anyhow, you are happy and ‘ecstatic’, you have a Tagliatelle al ragù which tourists call Spaghetti Bolognese, your motivation is high and you want to achieve your goals.
Then you proceed to drive through Ferrara, elevation 9 metres above the sea level. Food is nice, everything seems ok, but your healthy habits are starting to wave off, you start to procrastinate. Next you drive through narrow and winding roads to a small commune called Jolanda di Savoia, 3 metres below to sea level - you lost your motivation and your map has pasta sauce all over it so you don't know how to get back to your high state of motivation; in this example - the town of Bologne.
So you start with high motivation, then it goes down a bit and then you lose it, feeling guilty and waiting. For what exactly?
For another wave of motivation, in the above story it would be someone who speaks English and is nice enough to direct you back.
Now imagine a different scenario, you’ve put all the routes into your navigation system, you’ve planned your stops and now just cruising and enjoying the view. Yes, you will still drive to Jolanda di Savoia and your motivation will go down but, you know that you have planned everything and you simply scale back, for example instead of going to posh restaurant you stay in the hotel room and have a simple meal. You get back in your car and drive to Bologne.
Lessons from this confusing story?
- Motivation doesn’t last
- Plan your goals when you’re really motivated
- Plan your fallbacks
- Keep in mind the big picture, good and bad times will pass
- Enjoy the process
You need to plan for moments of weakens
Important thing to remember is that You now setting your goals is the same You that gave up in the past.
This is a concept called Hyperbolic Discounting, you choose a smaller reward that is available now than bigger reward later.
If now you, say want to lose 14lbs (a stone) in 12 weeks, and all you need to do is to stop drinking half a bottle of wine on a weekday after work, and those three bottles that you have over the weekend. This seems realistic now.
But, comes second Friday in January and you already feel tempted. What happens next is you choose a smaller reward (wine) over the bigger reward later (weigh loss goal).
In order to avoid it you can do two things.
Be vigilant of your behaviour. Paying attention to your response is one of the most helpful techniques, one that works with weak and strong habits.
It is easy in theory but very hard to perform, especially on strong habits as we often do them on autopilot.
Monitor your behaviour and then you can do the following.
If > Then > Else
If (I want to open a bottle of wine) > Then (replace a healthier habit that gives you similar reward to evening glass, maybe favourite tea, walk, calling a friend, etc.) > Else (secondary option from the above list)
So the person that sets a goal is the same person that failed in the past BUT, and this is a big but, this time the person fool-proofs their future self from making a mistake that resulted in breaking the resolution a year before.
'Greg Mikolap, BSc in Physiotherapy, and a Personal Trainer based in Maidenhead, England. Greg is also a founder of www.PTFolder.com, training solution for people who want to get fit or for people who help others get fit. With almost 10 years experience in the industry, Greg is also a course director for Faster Health & Fitness and is working on his volleyball performance book.'