Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
Have you ever heard Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”? I’ve never known something to be so true, both personally and professionally. I’ve watched many clients say they wanted something so badly, such as reaching a goal weight, hitting the gym every day, logging their foods, or starting to meal plan, only to struggle with the same things a year down the road.
It’s easy to make goals and get pumped up about the results you so desperately want. It’s also easy to “start” eating healthier or “start” going to the gym, but if adopting a new routine and reaching goals are what you really desire, there needs to be a plan to achieve them. But where do you begin? Sounds simple, right? Just write some things down on a checklist or in your schedule and do it. Nope, absolutely not! There are so many moving parts to making an achievable plan, and there’s certainly nothing random about making one. Don’t be that person a year from now still spinning your wheels and not knowing why you’re not where you wanted to be.
Follow this checklist to get started now:
1) Set a goal that is realistic and achievable. The first step to crushing your weekly health and fitness goals is to set a goal that is realistic and achievable. Sometimes we refer to this as a SMART goal which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. I won’t go into any lengthy explanation about SMART goals in this article so if you’re curious, give it a quick Google search or visit the BariMelts blog here. In general, your goal needs to make sense. You certainly wouldn’t want to set a goal to climb Mount Everest next week if you nearly pass out from climbing a flight of steps. I know that particular example is a little extreme, but you get what I mean.
Your goal needs to be as detailed as possible (what, when, where, how), and you need to be able to measure it (track weight loss, muscle gained, time improved running a mile, etc). Don’t set a goal that is too lofty or vague. You will be setting yourself up for disappointment. Alternatively, if you set a goal that is too easy, you will not be motivated to put in the work required to achieve it. Find a happy medium, and set a goal that you know you can achieve with some effort.
2) Make a plan. Once you have set a goal, it is time to make a plan for getting there. This is the big one, so take your time. Get out your planner and begin brainstorming! You’ll need to identify your day-to-day commitments, such as work, taking kids to and from school, or whatever it is you do. You’ll have some non-negotiables that cannot be adjusted, but you’ll also have things you can put on the back burner or delegate to someone else so you can free up more of your valuable time. Evaluation is everything.
Take this for example... If your goal is to go to the gym to exercise, start by asking yourself these questions:
- What do I need to do in order to join the gym?
- How many days a week am I willing to go?
- Is it convenient to go before work or on the way home?
- What will I be doing in the gym? Cardio, weights, classes, working with a trainer?
Odds are, if you don’t ask yourself these questions, you’ll find yourself paying for a gym membership you never use. Sure, you’ll have more more questions to ask yourself in addition to other factors to consider, but this is where daily/weekly planning begins.
3) Take action. The third step is to take action. Start putting your plan into action and doing what is necessary to achieve your goal. Will this require making changes to your lifestyle or daily routine? Absolutely, but it will be worth it in the end! You may have to start saying “no” to many things you generally would commit to, and that’s okay. If it does not serve you and your goals or lead you in the right direction, forget it. Goals aren't achieved by overly committing yourself to things or being a people pleaser. Also, communicate your plan with those who may affect your schedule. This can include significant others, children, or anyone who plays a role in your daily or weekly routine. Having others support you will optimize your success.
4) Stay focused and committed. It can be easy to lose focus and commitment when trying to achieve any goal, but even more, health and fitness goals. There will be days when you don't feel like working out or eating healthy, but you’ll need to push through these moments and stay focused. Remember why you are doing this, and keep your eye on the prize!
5) Evaluate your progress. Finally, you need to evaluate your progress regularly. And you’ll be able to measure your progress in some quantifiable way because you made a SMART goal, right?! Check in at the end of each day, week, and month to determine what is working for you and what isn’t. This will help you to see how well you are doing and whether or not you need to make any changes to your plan. It is also important to celebrate your successes along the way!
So, if things start to feel a little out of sorts, you’re not meeting your own expectations with the things you want, and you just feel like you’re in a state of reacting to life instead of being proactive, reflect on why. Have you made a plan? If you have, are you following it? If not, why? The quality of your results will always depend on the work you did to get there.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.