Goals and Resolutions: Accountability and Quantification, and How to Not Abandon Them
Ways to get back on track, just in case you have fallen off the New Year's resolution wagon by now, so you can be in better shape before summer!
If you're like countless others in our society, you made a New Year's resolution to either lose weight, get fit, have good nutritional habits or something like that. If you have been on the ball, you have been better in some way, and have had some results by now. Extra points for you!
But it is really hard to keep yourself focused for the long haul from straying from attaining your goals. This is the reason why so many give up on their New Year's Resolutions before February hits. Adherence. So how can we beat this issue? Below are a bunch of ways to snap back into the mindset needed to still make 2021 the year of redemption:
1. Record progress and embrace the starting point. The scale, fat and ugly half-naked selfies, measurements, BMI, all of the above. Yeah, bite that nasty bullet and tell yourself, on Facebook Live if you're extra brave, that this is the end of this crap, these numbers, this look, whatever. It's time to improve. You can begin that change immediately afterward and you'll feel better afterward. The "crap" is the starting point. It's the mark by which every improvement is measured. Every inch, pound, pants size, weight of a set, EVERYTHING.
2. Accountability: This is where your people come in. Everyone wants that super positive person or team in their lives to yell at them when they skip the gym or eat pizza. Sometimes we're lucky to have that person, but a friend or family member that's cool with listening to the good and the bad once in awhile can do. Maybe you can inspire them to join you or maybe they'll get a kick out of picking on you for cheating. Even if you're just telling your cat that you shouldn't have eaten cookies and should have had fruit instead, you're going through the motions of being accountable to someone, rewiring that brain. You can also be accountable to a journal, an online tracking system (like FitBit or Livestrong) or through online community groups that all share the same goal. You'll quickly find that the people on those forums are super positive!
3. Quantification: This one is tricky. How do you put a number to being fit and healthy with all those factors involved? Many use the numbers on the scale, work out a ton, gain muscle mass and then get derailed when they weigh more, and give up. (Been there. Not fun.) Yes, the scale is a way of quantifying weight loss, but so are measurements, BMI, pants size, accumulated macronutrients, calorie deficit, etc. Pick something, or a few somethings other than the scale to help you out, keep track somehow, and you'll see numbers change as you stick with it. So stick with it!
We are all our own person. Duh. What works for you may not work for me. What works for me may not work for you, but you never know until you try it out for a little while. It takes between 21 and 30 days to create a habit. What system will motivate you to stick to your plan that long?
So what little things can you can try to get started?
Food trackers, earned reward systems, journals, charts, computer charts, apps that you have to physically do something daily on, having other people hold you accountable, personal trainers and coaches, facebook groups, pictures of what a realistic goal can look like, an outfit that was too tight hanging up, positive people going on the nutrition and fitness along with you so you know you're not struggling alone, a fitness tracker, adding a healthy habit each week (like cutting out soda the first week, adding a vegetable the next, adding a bottle of water each day the next, etc.), and adding an accountability system.
What's my accountability system? It's stupid, but it works. I enjoy the satisfaction of picking up a tangible object and putting it in a “completed” pile. I also can't bring myself to lie about it. The best parts? It takes a couple seconds and after awhile you'll see which category you're weak on. It'll haunt you and you'll want to make a change because it's hanging there in front of you. When the first basket is finally empty reward yourself. Eat a doughnut, buy a pair of shoes or a wedge of expensive cheese. You earned it. Then start again.
So I have done this a couple ways. I used to use a couple of old Easter baskets hung next to my bedroom door. Inside are colored strips of paper, rolled up into “straws”. I have a certain amount of each color, with the most being red for cardio and green for having a non-cheating nutrition day. I also have blue for when I've done yoga, brown for cleaning, white for when I've written a blog post, and yellow for miscellaneous good things for me, like meditation. Before I go to bed, I pick out the sticks for things I honestly did and put them in the other basket. I had custom-tailored color goals. It worked for awhile, but then I kept forgetting what the colors were, and the goals were actually too strict and inflexible for when life threw a curveball at me. So now what has been working for several months is the same thing, but for my fitness regiment. I have cards for cardio, strength, flexibility, etc. hung on a clothesline in my basement fitness studio. Completed on one half, to be completed on the other, and they migrate in either direction each week. It works fabulously.
For nutrition I track using Fitbit's tracking system since it can coordinate with my activity. Since I'm still working on those pandemic pounds that resulted from months of quarantine and a few other health issues that arose from a tubulent 2020, I still need to calculate a deficit. If I'm under my goal, I write it down as an "earned" amount of calories. Then I have a surplus if I want to eat a little something extra at the end of the week. Think of it as a rainy day fund for calories that starts fresh each week. If I don't track my food or write down that surplus, I don't know what I have for extra, therefore I don't know what extra I'll have to spend, so I have to keep up on it during the week. I am a saver by nature, so it actually just results as a tiny 100-or-200 calorie binge and the rest is just bonus calorie defecit.
But understand that everyone's brain works differently, so it's important to find a system that works with the way you think and handle issues. You probably won't get your accountability right the first time- so expect some trail and error. So let's start with a first attempt using the Easter basket construction paper straw strategy:
Pick how long you want your cycle to be (week, month, etc.) and that's how many green (or good nutrition) strips and days we have. Ideally you want to eat correctly every day. Then add how many days per week for cardio for red strips. What are your other goals? How often should you do them? Designate a color for amounts of trips to the gym, or check-ins with your accountability person, or whatever. Get some construction paper, put on a TV show and get rolling!
Too hard? Too much work? Would you rather have someone design this or figure it out for you? Book a coaching session and we can do that.