Success is often measured in numbers: How much money you make, how many pounds you lose, how long you train, heck – even how many “likes” you get on Facebook (Who else is guilty of taking down a status after 30 minutes of no ‘likes’?!). After all, it’s motivating when results are tangible – a decreased waistline, an increased bank account, shaving 3 minutes off a PR – these are all measurable outcomes that help us reap the fruits of our labors and push us to achieve goals. Why is it, then, that the New Years Resolution – a commonly measurable goal – often fails by February? We set many goals for ourselves throughout the year, but for most people, the resolution is doomed before it even begins.
This seems especially true with resolutions specific to diet and exercise. Come January 2nd, you have to sign up three days in advance to get a bike at your favorite spin class. Give it a couple weeks, however, and it’s back to you and the regulars. We in the fitness community see it all the time, and I, personally, believe that “numbers” have a lot to do with it. In a world where instant gratification is everywhere, fitness remains an area where results require commitment, time, and patience. People wake up New Years Day, open the shutters wide, and exclaim to the streets below “THIS IS THE TIME I LOSE THIRTY POUNDS!!!” only to throw in the (gym) towel when the scale doesn’t dip more than two LBs after the first week. It’s a numbers game, and I believe we’re looking at numbers all wrong.
The solution lies in developing a healthy relationship with those pesky digits. This article will take a brief look at three things:
1.) How to set smaller, measurable goals to mark your successes as you strive for big picture change
2.) How to measure yourself in QUALITY over quantity
3.) How to find “success in numbers”
Let’s take a look at how to make that New Years plan stick in 2015!:
-Aim for measurable, achievable, smaller, goals as your work towards the larger ones:
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your health dramatically change overnight. Instead of saying you’ll lose 30 pounds in 30 days, aim for weekly or bi-weekly goals. Something as small as recognizing how your body feels after eating healthy for two weeks or being able to appreciate a 3-pound loss instead of 10 or 12 can be far more encouraging than obsessing over the “long haul”. Try keeping a log or journal that breaks your goals down by the week instead of the month. Pick more than just diet or exercise milestones – don’t forget about your emotional progress, too! If you appreciate the little things, the big things will feel that much sweeter!
-Measure yourself in QUALITY instead of QUANTITY:
After three weeks of working out, do you have more energy? Has your stress level decreased? As it was stated above, it’s also important to pay close attention to the emotional and psychological benefits of your actions. More often than not, people stick to diet and exercise when they recognize it’s providing more benefits than just shedding pounds. Your risk for health complications decrease, your mood improves, and your body simply works with you more cooperatively. All quality reasons to adhere your goals in my book!
-Find success in numbers:
I can’t stress this one enough. Think about the most awesome fitness class you’ve ever attended (and if you haven’t attended any, think about a really fun time you’ve had with your friends). I bet your positive experience had something to do with the people around you, right? True commitment to change can be a surprisingly lonely experience at times (you order water when everybody else orders wine, skip out on Happy Hour to go to bootcamp class, opt for sleep instead of socializing, etc.). That’s why it’s nice to find yourself surrounded by people on a similar fitness mission, and it’s often very motivating, too!
Luckily for those of us in the Montgomery County area, there are no shortage of group fitness options nor enthusiastic participants to help you feel connected to your goals. Ryan J. is a Philadelphia resident who participated in CoreFitness’s “Commit30” program last January in an effort to make his resolution stick. He attributes the camaraderie in the class to his personal success: “For me the biggest thing was the family atmosphere. Like being in a family, I knew I had a responsibility not just to myself to get up in the morning and be there to work hard, but also to support my fellow family members.” Micaela A. also participated in the Commit30 program and reflects that being surrounded by people with like-minded goals was a large part of reaching her goals: “I wanted a program where people had the same goals,” she says, “You learn to account for each other whether it is pushing each other for a 3-mile run or being somebody’s alarm clock to get up for the 6 am bootcamp class!” Goal adherence is often supported by finding compatible people who check-in with you when you run late to your gym class or post healthy recipes to your Facebook wall. They won’t let you give up, and you’re less inclined to because of it.
In sum, breaking it down, recognizing change beyond our physique, and finding people to support your cause may just make that resolution stick all year long! Need help finding where to start? If you are gearing up for a healthier-you in 2015 and want to focus on the “non-numbers, it’s easy to find a program like Commit30 (CoreFitness, starts January 12th) near you! For more information or guidance on what you’ve read today, please contact Caitlin@core-fit.com. Have a happy and healthy 2015!
Caitlin Langan is a Conshohocken based personal trainer and licensed therapist who assists clients in a comprehensive mind-body approach to their exercise and wellness goals. For information on personal training and/or counseling services, contact Caitlin at Caitlin@core-fit.com or check out this page for more information.