07 Jan Five steps to reaching your fitness goals this New Year
It’s a New Year, and for most of us, that means New Year’s resolutions. If you’re sick of hearing about making “SMART” fitness goals (cue eye roll), then this blog is for you. Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Deanna Niceski, gives you some practical tips that will actually help you to stick to your fitness goals and New Year’s Resolutions!
I’d sound like a broken record if I discussed SMART goals in this blog. We’ve all been going over that process since high school! But when setting your fitness goals, there are a few things that you do need to consider.
The key to any goal is painting a clear picture of what you want and why you want it. Think about all your deepest, burning desires… If you really want something bad enough, you’ll get there. So, let’s figure out what to consider when making your 2020 New Year’s Resolutions.
1. Find your why
Do you know why you want what you want? It’s important to really understand why you are doing something. Defining and recognising your values will help you through the process of achieving your goals. When you start with your why, your actions feel more important and therefore your adherence is greater.
This should be a priority and will help you crystallise your outcome. Before you get started ask yourself this question; “What do you stand for and why do you want this?”.
“He who has a why to live for, can bear almost any how” – Friedrich Nietzsche
2. Decision making
“The person who fails to develop their ability to make decisions is doomed because indecision sets up internal conflicts that can, without warning, escalate into all out mental and emotional wars.” – Bob Proctor
This might seem like common sense but becoming proficient at making decisions is the next step. An adult can make on average 35,000 decisions a day . We decide when we wake up, if we listen to the devil on our shoulder saying ‘5 more minutes’ or suck it up and jump out of bed. We decide what clothes to wear, what to eat and if we will go for a workout.
Remember, the buck stops with you and you have the power to change your actions.
Lastly, don’t forget that obstacles can and will create disruptions and you need to adjust your decision making around this. Just because you don’t hit the bullseye on the first go, doesn’t mean you have failed. Make the decision to try again!
“Failing does not make anyone a failure, but quitting does because quitting is a decision.”
3. Identify your health promoters and disruptors
Reflect on your current routines and break them up into productive actions and non-productive actions (or “promoters” and “disruptors”).
Promoters are physical, mental, environmental and lifestyle factors that contribute to enhancing your outcomes and goals. By identifying these we can establish a baseline to refer to whenever we need some motivation or to remember why we started. Think about when you implement and create a great sleep routine, it not only helps your body recover, but it also gives you energy for your day and helps with hormone regulation, a great health promoter.
Disruptors or inhibitors do the opposite. They slow and prevent our desired outcomes. These can include anything from work pressures, pain, anxiety, poor nutrition or leading a sedentary lifestyle.
4. The habit loop
“You can’t extinguish bad habits; you can only replace them”. – Institute of Motion
A habit loop is made up of three essential parts: Reminder, routine and reward. This is a powerful tool to breakdown and understand the anatomy of a habit to create and change behaviour.
Reminder is a trigger or cue that initiates a habit. If we change our environment, we have a greater chance of changing our behaviour. It’s important to provide an atmosphere where external stimulus promote positive transformation and help in our achievement of reaching our goals. For example, switch a jar of cookies on your bench or at the office for a bowl of fruit or keep a foam roller or massage ball next to your desk or by your TV.
Routine is the automated behaviour created by our reminders that set into sequence regular actions that are repeated. Simply seeing the fruit or foam roller over time will force you into a habit of eating an apple a day or releasing those sore bits. This is creating healthy rituals within the loop.
Reward is when we start to see results and our habits are reinforced and begin to stick. The rewards are fuelled by our hierarchy of values. Who doesn’t love a good reward? By eating that apple instead of a cookie, you’ve lost 3kg. By frequently releasing the tension in your body you no longer have daily lower back pain… Winner!
Most times when we test our willpower, we can come off second best. This can get overwhelming, so to combat this, try and focus on one thing at a time and gradually build. Evidence suggests that sticking with creating or changing one habit at a time or selecting a habit that influences multiple behaviours at once are the best options.
Habits take up to 66 days to form , so don’t expect perfection and be kind to yourself. Life will always get in your way so keep it simple and stick to one thing at a time. You need to learn how to crawl before you can walk.
Need a little extra help?
If you’re struggling with your fitness goals, motivation or sustained behaviour change, it’s OK to ask for help. An accredited exercise professional can help you to create a plan and implement changes that you will actually stick to. To find a university-qualified exercise expert near you, click here.
Written by Deanna Niceski. Deanna is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Global Wellness Tracking.