How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? If you find yourself slipping a bit, you might want to start over with a “goal makeover” using the tips below.
We asked for advice on these from Todd Lutz, the Get Fit coordinator at Splendido, an all-inclusive community for those 55 and better in Tucson. Todd works with Splendido residents to create personalized plans for getting and staying in shape. “I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t in terms of fitness plans that people can follow through on,” he says. “And I think the same guidelines can apply to New Year’s resolutions.”
Regardless of whether you’ve made resolutions for 2018, you can increase your chances of reaching goals by using the steps below. They are written to target fitness goals, but they apply to other arenas as well:
1. Be specific as well as realistic. “Rather than make a vague resolution to get in shape or lose weight, decide on a specific, attainable goal,” Todd advises. For instance, if you want to get in shape to maintain your overall health, maybe your goal could be to lose a certain amount of weight by a specific reasonable deadline. . . or to be able to hike two miles. This may require some research to determine what is realistic for you, but by starting with specific, measurable goals, you’ll have something to work toward, and that can be very motivating!
2. Big goal? Break it down. It’s great to think big when it comes to fitness goals. . . but a lofty goal such as being able to run a marathon can be daunting, and that makes it easy to abandon. Particularly for goals or resolutions about weight loss or exercise, map out a timeline of smaller milestones to help you reach the overall goal. Or schedule weekly or monthly check-ins to see how you’re doing.
Here’s a good example: On May 19, Splendido will once again be the title sponsor of the Veterans and First Responders 5K Run/Walk and Memorial Mile Run/Walk. If you’re a beginning runner who has set your eye on participating, Todd recommends starting with a mix of mostly walking with some jogging. “Begin with 20 minutes walking and slowly build up to a combination of running and walking, eventually reaching 30 minutes of running,” he suggests. “A good first week is 20 to 30 minutes’ total of walking/running every other day.”
3. Put it on your calendar. Once you’ve decided on a specific goal and broken it down if necessary, plan when you will devote time to working toward it. “I suggest you literally put it on your calendar,” says Todd. “Whether you are noting an hour every morning for a brisk walk or listing when your new yoga class takes place—if you don’t make time for it at the outset, you won’t be able to work toward that goal.”
4. Share your plan and take advantage of the support. Imagine two scenarios: In the first, you’ve resolved to lose weight, but you don’t tell anyone because you feel self-conscious. In the second, you tell your friends and family about your goal; this allows them to support you, and help hold you accountable. Results could be as simple as your dinner party host offering a low-calorie dessert based on your new diet, or as rewarding as a friend offering to join you as a “diet buddy.” “Having others who may ask about your progress, cheer your successes, or hear about your setbacks will help you stick to your goal,” says Todd.
5. Be resilient. With any major goal, you’re going to experience setbacks. Maybe there will be days you don’t make it to your scheduled workout, or you just couldn’t resist an evening of pizza and beer. “When you backslide a little, start the next day fresh and resolve to get back to your good habits,” says Todd. “It’s human nature to use one lapse as an excuse for more—but if you resolve at the outset not to let that happen to you, you’ll be ahead of the game.”
“You’ll notice that most of these steps happen before you ever lace up your running shoes or eat your first salad,” says Todd. “By taking some time and researching and selecting a realistic fitness goal, breaking it down into steps before you get started, and scheduling when you’ll work on it, you are making it easy to stick with good habits and make it all happen.”