Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New year's resolutions

Ah, it's that time of year again. The resolutionists come out of the woodwork only to disappear back again in about a month. Getting fitter and losing weight are perennials on the new years resolution top ten lists (usually in the top 3) but why do so many people come out in January only to be back to their old habits by February?

The answer is that they do not have a plan and that they have set unachievable goals.

The first thing to do is to look at your goal. A goal must have three components. It should be specific (measurable), achievable and have a timeframe. It's one thing to say "I want to lose some weight" but it's not likely to be successful. Try instead to add the three components for example "I want to lose 20 lbs by the end of April". Is this achievable? Probably, if you make a plan and stick to it. If however you wanted to lose 20 lbs by the end of January, I would suggest either changing the amount of weight or the timeframe. Setting goals that you are not willing to commit to will always fail so set a commitment that you are willing to live with.

Now that you have a good goal, it's time to set out your plan to achieve it. It won't happen all on it's own. Break your larger goal down into smaller chunks and write down what you need to do to make the milestones. Twenty pounds in four months can be easily broken down to five pounds a month. Five pounds a month is 1.25 pounds a week and we know that a pound equates to about 3200 calories. Now you just need to figure out how to get a deficit of 4000 calories a week that you are willing to live with. There are 2 ways of getting a calorie deficit; take less calories in and burn more calories. A combination of diet and exercise would be the most effective method.

Decide what dietary changes you are willing to make and what commitment to additional exercise you can realistically do and plan to do them. Don't make the mistake of over estimating the amount of exercise you will do which is one of the most common mistakes. If you currently do little or no exercise, it's not realistic to plan to be at the gym 5 times per week. Start out slowly and build up. Get used to exercising once a week. Once you're OK with that then increase it to two and so on.

The other common mistake is doing too much, too soon. This usually results in pain or injury and quitting. Give your body some time to adjust to the change before progressing to the next step. A realistic amount of change is 10% per week so if you are currently running 10K per week, increase it to 11K the first week. If you increase to 15K you will be sore and risk injury.

If this is too much for you, get help. If you really want to change, get the help of experts who can help you set a goal, make a plan and follow it. Hire a nutritionist or personal trainer but make sure they are qualified to be giving advise. There are a lot of people out there giving advise and if you are turning your hard earned cash over to them, ask what their qualifications are and make sure they are right for you. Even if you think you can do it yourself, you will be far more successful if you have someone coaching you through the process (Take a look at Hit The Road's Coaching Services) who will guide you through the process and give you someone to be answerable to.

Lastly, good luck. Don't become one of the 80% of resolutionists who are gone within a month. Set your goals, make a plan and achieve them.

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