written by Lisa Maguire
It happens every year. The parking lot is full. The treadmills are all in use. The group fitness classes see record numbers. Gyms everywhere are delighted to have a sea of energized, eager, and determined members who are committed to keeping their New Year’s Resolutions. And much to our delight, some are very, very successful! But just as the full tide comes in, it also goes back out. By March, the parking lot is no longer full, there are always open treadmills, and group fitness classes are no longer packed. But most distressing is that there are so many people who didn’t reach their goals and gave up.
Worried this might be you? We’re here to help! HAC believes in enhancing people’s lives – really and truly. We want you to be successful, and most importantly, we want you to be the healthiest version of you that you possibly can. So how can you make it a habit in 2017?
First, let’s look at why we need to make it a “habit.” A habit is something that we do almost without thinking. Every day we brush our teeth, put our shoes on, eat, and go to bed. We need to transition our new behavior into an automatic behavior.
Set a Goal
HAC likes to use the SMART method of goal setting. Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Let’s say you want to lose some weight. We can make it specific by answering a few questions: How much weight? How are you going to achieve this goal? Why do you want to lose the weight?
Specific Goal: I’m going to work out at HAC to lose 15 pounds by summertime.
This can get even more specific by setting days and times that you’re going to work out.
Now let’s add measurement into the equation. This helps add some accountability by giving you a concrete method to track your progress. You have the goal amount – 15 pounds. Since the results will take time, it’s good to have a plan to check in on things. Maybe you’ll weigh in once a week. You can also add things like before photos or body circumference measurements.
Specific & Measurable Goal: I’m going to work out at HAC to lose 15 pounds by summertime, and I’ll measure my progress by taking a before photo, measuring my waist circumference, and completing a weigh in on the scale every Wednesday morning.
Now we’re going to go a little out of order. Let’s set a time frame. If the goal is over the course of a long time, it may not be challenging enough to motivate you, and if it’s over too short a period of time, it won’t be realistic or attainable. It’s January, and you’re looking to lose 15 pounds by summer. On average, most people can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week depending on how aggressive they want their diet and exercise regimen to be. If you plan on losing 1 pound per week, 15 weeks would put you into April.
In order to achieve this goal, you would have to remove 3500 calories a week. Removing 3500 calories solely through two nights of exercise a week is not realistic. From this point, you would need to go back and modify your original, specific goal to include the revelations here. By the end, you might find yourself at:
SMART Goal: I’m going to work out on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and I’m going to start packing my lunch instead of buying takeout, to lose 15 pounds by the end of 15 weeks. I will track my progress by taking a before picture, measuring my waist circumference, and weighing in weekly on Wednesday mornings.
Find a Trigger
So now you have a goal – a SMART goal. But you still haven’t made it a habit. One of the easiest ways to create new habits is to link them to existing ones. It’s not exactly easy to throw in a 60-minute workout between brushing your teeth and putting on your shoes, but maybe on Tuesdays and Thursdays your spouse doesn’t get home until 6:30 pm because they take little Johnny to soccer practice. If you get off at 5:00 and drive to HAC, you’ve got 90 minutes before any familial obligations. Here’s another one – let’s say you always do your grocery shopping on Saturdays. Now you can link your Saturday workout to before you shop. These scenarios may not work perfectly for you, but if you can find little breaks in your schedule when you can remove a couple of the obstacles in your way, creating the new habit becomes that much easier.
Tip: If you have trouble holding yourself accountable or finding the motivation, great ways to get started are trying a class, finding a workout buddy, or using a personal trainer. We know hopping into that first class where can be intimidating – it seems like everyone but you knows the moves or choreography. Fear not! They were all in your shoes once. Plus, classes are an easy way to make new friends at HAC!
Finally, Choose a Reward
And make it a good one! If you want to feel more comfortable in your beach wear next summer, try picking a reward like a couple of extra beach days or a new swimsuit or other summer clothing that you wouldn’t ordinarily buy. Remember to make these specific, too:
“On May 5th, I’m going to go shopping for myself, because all of my old beach clothes won’t fit!”
Still having trouble setting your plans for personal fitness into motion? Join us for our FREE Make it A Habit Contest for a chance to win hundreds of dollars in prizes!
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