It is December 29th which means that New Year's Day is right around the corner. Every year many people make goals and resolutions related to health and fitness. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, many of the goals set can be unrealistic and nearly impossible to reach. If you have fallen victim to the endless cycle of starting your health and fitness journey on January 1st for it to only last a month or two, then this post is for you.
So what makes goals unrealistic and how do you set goals that are achievable? Many people who set New Year's resolutions have a very all or nothing mentality. They think that if they are going to exercise they need to do so 4-5 days a week and that they should be eating clean 100 percent of the time. This may feel pretty easy or at least manageable for the first few weeks, but if you're going from zero to one hundred you will definitely start to feel the effects by weeks 3 and 4 which ultimately leads to burnout. If you are not currently exercising a more realistic goal would be to start working out 2 days a week. This would be an increase in your current activity level but would allow you enough time in between workouts to recover. Consistency is going to be one of the most important factors when it comes to reaching your goals. If you workout twice a week for a year I guarantee you that you will see more progress than if you workout 5 days a week for one or two months. The same mentality can be applied when it comes to nutrition. Rather than starting a super strict diet, you can begin by striving to adopt a few healthy habits. An example of this would be aiming to eat a cup of vegetables with dinner or a cup of fruit at breakfast.
When setting up goals it's important to look at the big picture and think long term. As humans we tend to want things immediately. We set unrealistic goals because we want results quickly. We think that if we can be perfect with our workouts and nutrition for 30 to 60 days we will have the bodies we have always dreamed of. This unfortunately is almost never the case. I want to challenge you to think about what could happen if you gave yourself a year or even more time to achieve these goals. Instead of making drastic changes you could implement small ones over an extended period of time. This is a much more sustainable approach, it will help you create positive habits and will lead to longer lasting results.
If you are struggling with where to start I encourage you to write down a list of long term goals - think where you want to be a year from now. I then want you to think of 3-5 short term goals that will help you reach this goal. As an example I will set a long term goal of performing 10 chin ups in a row by the end of 2022. A few shorter term goals to help me get there could be to practice chin-ups two days a week, perform two accessory rowing exercises that will assist in chin-up strength two days a week and practice chin-up holds one day a week. All 3 of these short term goals are very realistic for my current activity level and lifestyle. If I had said I was going to practice chin-ups 5 days a week, I know that would be unrealistic for me and would probably result in no chin-ups at all.
This type of goal setting can be applied to most goals and resolutions. I personally find that breaking them down can make them less scary and seem more attainable. While I don't think having high expectations for yourself is a bad thing, if you set goals and resolutions that are unrealistic, you're just setting yourself up for failure. Setting smaller goals and staying consistent when it comes to fitness and nutrition is going to be the best way to ensure success!