By: Christine Morse, M.S., Certified Personal Trainer and daughter of Dr. William Morse, TPCA Integrative Family Medicine physician.
Let’s set some goals. Goals are essentially resolutions with an action plan. A goal has to be measurable and achievable. If it’s not achievable and measureable then it’s just a wish. How will you measure your progress? Pounds? Miles? Inches? Can you see yourself achieving this goal? For success, simply follow these basic principles: set short and long term goals, and prepare for discouragement and break through plateaus.
Short term goals are achieved in the immediate future, generally within six months. These will be small, manageable goals that will give you a sense of accomplishment. Even if you have a long term goal of losing 50 lbs, you will need short term goals to use as stepping stones. These short term weight loss goals may only be five or ten pounds at a time. After a few successful short term goals, you will see your long term goal draw closer and closer.
Long term goals are at least six months away. I often ask clients the following questions regarding long term goals: What do you want to look like this time next year? How do you want to feel this time next year? Do you want to run a certain race or lift a certain amount of weight? What is your ideal level of fitness? Whether it is a dress size, a 5k, a weightlifting max or a new skill, set a long term goal that will help you be healthier and happier.
Make a discouragement game plan. There are going to be days where you don’t feel motivated. There might be cold and rainy days, nights where you don’t get enough sleep and bad moods. What are you going to do when you are faced with discouragement? Find out what motivates you and use it like the proverbial carrot to lead you to your goal. Make sure your motivator is positive and healthy. Many people have a mantra that they invoke for an extra boost of morale. If a motivational speech to your reflection in the mirror is not your style, ask family members to write encouraging notes for you. Take a “before” photo of yourself and put that photo on your bathroom mirror, on your fridge, on the dashboard of your car, on your alarm clock, anywhere you can see it and remember that you want to change. NEVER use food as a motivator. To reward all your hard work in the gym by indulging in junk food is counterintuitive. It is not helpful. Physically and psychologically it is not healthy. Let me repeat: DO NOT USE FOOD AS A MOTIVATOR.
Even with all the motivation in the world, sometimes we can still hit a plateau in our fitness endeavors. These plateaus sometimes occur without a reasonable explanation. The body has certain set points, or comfort zones, that we try desperately to break through. When you find your progress lulling into a plateau you know it’s time to change it up. Ramp up the intensity of your workouts. Try a harder level, a heavier weight, a more advanced class or a longer workout. Try something new like a class or work with a personal trainer to learn new exercises and push yourself to the next level. Bulldoze those plateaus!
Let’s summarize. First, set a long term goal. Then, set several short term goals that will lead you to your long term goal. Make a plan for discouragement and find out what motivates you. When you hit a plateau, mix it up. Before long, you will feel the satisfaction of true accomplishment. Success is a wonderful feeling!