Are we already days into the new year? Yes. Should you care? No! The truth is that 10th of January is as good as 1st of January to apply “New Year resolutions”. And that’s what you’ll gonna do. But first, read below to make sure you do them right.
New Year is an important time for everybody to make plans and take decisions. You might pretend that you don’t care about New Year resolutions but, if you want to lose fat, you most probably do care, deep inside. Be honest with yourself and admit that you also want to set some goals to get you in shape by June and finally have the body you always dreamed of.
In the same time, you also tried this on and on, year after year and, chances are, you blew it every time. Why? It’s not because setting New Year goals is bullshit. It’s as good of a time as any other to set goals. The problem is the way you set up these goals. Let me give you some tips for making New Year’s resolutions that will truly work for you and make you achieve those goals.
1. Don’t cut, replace!
What do you mean “don’t cut”? Every diet or plan involves a cut of some sort. That’s the problem with most of them anyway. The moment you cut, you immediately feel that you lost something that you previously liked. By replacing bad choices with healthier ones, you won’t feel deprived of something that you liked, but rather happy that you managed to do something good for yourself instead of continuing a bad habit and constantly feeling guilty.
Example: Instead of cutting all sugary juices, replace them with smoothies. Instead of cutting cookies, replace them with fruits. Instead of cutting bread, replace it with healthy crackers (Wasa bread).
2. Make one change at a time
Just like the pressure added by cutting food without replacing, making more changes at one time messes you up. Especially if you’re a beginner in weight loss. It’s way easier to keep track of only one thing at a time, and the pressure added is minuscule. Allow at least a few weeks for your body and mind to adjust and embrace the new change. There’s no point in adding more changes and pressure if you can’t implement the one you’re on at the moment. Which means you also have to start small, with simple changes have a good chance of being implemented into your life.
Example: Instead of replacing all flour based food from your diet, in the first month, replace only the bread with a healthy alternative but keep the pasta. Only when you no longer eat bread 90% of the time for at least one month, replace the pasta with a healthy alternative (soy & beans pasta).
3. Keep a calendar
Why would you need a journal? If you have some fails, you’ll remember them. And anyway, if they already happened, it doesn’t matter anymore. Right? Wrong! We are very good at lying to ourselves. Which leads us to wrong assumptions about our current state, and about the measures we have to take.
A famous quote says: “You cannot improve what you don’t measure”.
The truth is that most of us are lazy to keep a journal. You actually don’t need a journal in the exact definition of the word. You need a calendar and a few things to track. Start tracking simple things, one at a time. Like the ones from point 2. above. Every night before bed, evaluate if you passed that goal for the day or not and mark accordingly on the calendar.
The advantages of keeping this simple calendar: 1) it takes very little time to fill it every day and 2) on a calendar you have a good overview of your days and you will soon see patterns of your mistakes.
I also wrote about making a calendar here.
4. Set SMART goals
Any goal that you set should align to this acronym. If not, adjust it so that it does, before setting it for yourself.
S = Specific goal. Bad example: I want to have a beach body by summer. Good example: I want to get to 20% body fat by summer.
M = Measurable. Taking the above example, your body fat can be measured. The internet is full of tools (choose carefully). If you can measure your progress, you know how you’re doing along the way.
A = Action based. What actions do you have to do in order to make the goals attainable? For the example above, in order of priority: 1) fixed eating schedule 2) make 10000 steps every day 3) run 2x / week
R = Realistic. Make sure your goals can be achieved in the set time limit. Example: You want to get to 20% body fat by summer (1st June). So you have less than 6 months to go and you have to lose at least 100 pounds (50kg). That means an average of 16 pounds (8kg) / month, which is very hard to achieve, from an average point of view. Even more, if you previously had troubles losing fat, you should take this into account and reevaluate if your overall goal is achievable.
T = Time based. Your goal needs a clear time limit. Otherwise, it’s easy to always postpone and delay taking action. Example: I want to get to 20% body fat by
summer 1st of June.
Example of a good SMART goal:
29 year old office worker female. Height – 5.5 feet (167cm), weight – 143 pounds (65kg). 1 small child, lots of house chores in the evening.
Goal: 115 pounds (52kg) by 1st of June = 28 pounds / 22 weeks = 1.25 pounds / week <- This average amount of weight loss / week is realistic.
Weight measurements will be made every Monday morning and actions adjusted in order to keep losing weight at this 1.25 pounds/week rate.
5. Anticipate failures
Whether you like it or not, failures happen. They are part of nature and the base of evolution. Now, in terms of weight loss, if you don’t accept and foresee failures, you can get really disappointed of yourself and quit your plan way too soon. You need to do 2 things in order to anticipate you weight loss plan failures: 1) Include a clear number of failures in your plan and 2) Don’t try to counter the failures by restricting even more afterward.
Example: Using your calendar, plan ahead 4 failing days out of 30. Do not plan the exact days to cheat. Strive for the none but accept that they might happen. After a failed day/ meal do not try to make up by not eating at all. This causes binges in your diet and continues the failures. The best thing you can do is to get back to your regular schedule asap.
From my homepage you can download an easy guide which contains a 30 days calendar template you can print and use.
P.S. the guy in the picture above is me, before and after.