New Years Resolutions or SMART goals? You decide.

It seems that this is always the time of year that people decide to finally accomplish all those things they wish they’d accomplished all year long. We’re all full of pipe dreams and big, hairy, audacious goals, most of which are unrealistic and unachievable.

Most people have at least some trouble setting and achieving goals, mostly because they haven’t discovered an effective way of making them work. S.M.A.R.T. goals is the answer to this dilemma. S=Specific, M=Measurable, A=Achievable, R=Realistic & T=Time. By following these patterns we’re able to define our goals in a way that will allow us to get the results we want, when we want.

One of the biggest struggles that I see in practice is patients using New Year’s as an opportunity to get back into the gym or to diet like a champion. The problem they have is that they bite off more than they can chew, (forgive the pun), more often than not. A good guideline for working out, or starting a new activity is to establish a timeframe that you’re going to be able to maintain long-term. Common problems I see are patients going to the gym, 5, 6 even 7 times a week, burning out, getting injured, or just losing interest after only a few weeks. Instead, try setting your schedule up to go to the gym once or twice and then maintaining that for a couple of months! If you’re able to do that without too much trouble, then you know it’s achievable and you can add another session to your week without much of a problem. This helps your body adapt to change and lowers your chance of injury considerably. Only on rare occasions can someone maintain a schedule as intense as 5-7 times per week to start. We’re talking world-class athletes here.

In terms of nutrition and diet, most often I hear patients tell me that they’re going to lose 20 or 30 pounds by Valentine’s Day or for that Caribbean vacation in March! Yikes.  Did you know that a healthy amount of weight to lose is about a pound a week? That doesn’t seem like much but when you continue to lose it week after week, it adds up.
Why not make the choice to select a couple of key nutrition concepts like burning more calories than you intake, or simply decreasing your portion size by 30%. You’d be amazed how much that can change your metabolism and shrink that waistline.

A big misconception is that weight loss is immediate and that you’ll lose the weight exactly where you think you should. Neither one of those concepts is correct. Your body will burn fat evenly over your entire body…unfortunately, which is the opposite of how it deposits it. For women, your body will deposit fat mostly on your hips and thighs, and for men the stomach. In a perfect world, those areas would be the first to change, but in reality they aren’t.
So, let’s make specific, measurable, attainable, realistic goals and put a time frame on them. The most important part of these goals is to write them down. Not only will this make the goal a reality for you, but it will give you a reference point in the future when you review them to see how you’ve done.

The next, and likely the most important step is to outline some Action Steps to achieve these goals. For example, if you want to exercise 3 times per week you might make actions steps like these: 1 purchase new workout clothes, 2 dust off gym membership 3 call workout buddy 4 schedule time for workout (ahead of time). These action steps mean nothing without a time limit, so be aggressive and put a short time line on them to encourage yourself to get started.

By putting all these concepts into place and avoiding some of the most common pitfalls, you CAN achieve your New Years Goals. Now you know how.

Good luck!

Dr. T

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