It is that time of the year where everyone is busy writing down their resolutions for next year. Among the number one list in New Year’s resolution is to lose weight or wanting to get fit. This is why if you visit the gym at the beginning of the year; expect to queue for cardio machines or come 20 minutes early to save your spot at a yoga class. Unfortunately, this spirit is usually short-lived as people fail to achieve their goals as early as Valentine’s Day.
So what really went wrong? Many people create barriers for themselves by having a general goal. An example of a general goal is “I want to be fit”. Notice how lose is this goal. There are no specific details such as why do you want to be fit? How much weight or body fat that you want to lose? When is the target? What are the requirements and constraints for you to do so?
A good goal should be SMART, that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
1) Specific: Example of a specific goal in wanting to be fit is “I want to have a lower body fat from 30% to 22% by 30 June 2014 so that I can fit in a size 6 dress. I will achieve this by exercising 3-4 times a week with a Personal Trainer at the nearest gym and follow a Paleo diet”. Note that by being specific you are more focus which subsequently increases your change in achieving that particular goal.
2) Measurable: By being specific about your goal, you can easily pinpoint ways to measure your progress. For the above goal, measuring your fat loss progress can be done using a caliper and ultimately your desired dress size every 4-6 weeks. In addition, you can also keep track of your progress by having a before and after picture preferably wearing the same clothing so you can see changes directly.
3) Attainable: Ever heard of a Goldilock Goal? A goal needs to be hard enough to stretch you but not so stretched that everything snaps. Sure you can lose 8% of bodyweight in 6 months but do you have the financials to hire a Personal Trainer or follow a strict Paleo diet? Revisit your goal and adjust accordingly to your own circumstances. Instead of hiring a Personal Trainer maybe you can opt for boot camp classes. Allow yourself some moderation if you follow a certain diet such as Paleo to avoid binging.
4) Realistic and Timely: Take a step back and rewind. Why is your body fat high in the first place? How long have you accumulated those gains and why? Be it a pregnancy or just simply bad eating habits, it take some time for your body fat to be creeping up, hence do not expect them to go down overnight. Set a realistic deadline for your goal so that you can adapt to your new lifestyle. It took me 5 months to lower my bodyweight from 30% to 22%. Adapting to a healthier lifestyle will always be a work-in-progress. There will always be holidays, nanny issues, colleague’s birthday, or that weekend where your nutrition will be compromised. However, a realistic deadline will allow you to get up and start over.
What are you waiting for? Grab a pen and paper and set up your SMART goals!