Set Goals You Can Stick with All Year Long
By: Robin Amylon
It’s the beginning of a new year; time for a fresh start, clean slate. This is the time where people usually make “New Year’s Resolutions” and start the year with the mantra “this will be the year I do X.” One of the most common goals people make is related to fitness whether it’s to get in better shape, become stronger or faster, increase muscle mass or lose weight. I see this every January in the gym. For the month of January and February the gym is complete mayhem. Everyone is gung-ho at the start of the year but come March or April it calms down and traffic goes back to normal. The same thing happens with nutrition. While I was at the hospital New Year’s Eve, I overheard a conversation between two nurses next to me talking about how excited they were to start Weight Watchers. That’s how you know it’s New Years. Yes, it’s important to set goals. That’s how we grow and become the best versions of ourselves. But it is also important to work towards them all year long, not just the beginning of it. Yes, you can look at the New Year as a clean slate but when you think about it, the beginning of each and every day is a fresh start. You don’t have to wait until January 1st of every year to start changing your life. If that’s how you look at it then you’re wasting the other 364 days. That’s a lot of time to waste. Now is not the time to go on a “cleanse” or start doing 2-a-days at the gym. Now is the time to start making changes you can realistically stick to for the rest of your life. So how should you go about setting your goals? What’s a good goal to have? Here are some tips on goal setting.
Goals should be:
- Specific. Avoid general statements. Goals should answer the questions when, where and how often. Having a goal to lose weight is great but it’s not specific. It doesn’t tell you what changes you are going to make to achieve it. A better goal would be to go to the 8am WOD class at RCF 5th Ave every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Or to eat vegetables with lunch every day.
- Measureable/observable. You should be able to measure whether or not your goal has been met. With the example given above, if you do go to the 8am WOD class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday you know you have met that goal. If you miss one of those days then you haven’t met that goal.
- Achievable. Be realistic when setting your goals. If you’re someone who eats fast food every day, then cutting fast food out cold turkey may not be realistic. A more realistic goal may be to only have fast food 4 times a week. Once you’ve been able to do that you can then cut that down to 2-3 times per week, then 1-2 times per week, then none.
- Small. The smaller the goal the more likely you will achieve it.
- Stated positively. Positive goals create a greater likelihood of success. For example setting a goal of avoiding certain foods can cause feelings of deprivation. Instead set goals of eating healthier foods putting the focus on foods you can have instead of foods you can’t.
Examples of Goals:
- Increase fruit intake: I will eat one piece of fruit with my breakfast at 7am every morning.
- Decrease sugar intake: I will drink water instead of soda with my lunch at 12:30pm every day.
- Increase vegetable intake: I will add 1 cup of steamed vegetables to my dinner at 6:30pm every day.
- Decrease amount of times eating out: I will pack my lunch for work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week.
- Increase fiber intake: I will eat oatmeal for breakfast 5 times this week.
Set daily, weekly and monthly goals, focusing on one thing at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a million different goals to achieve at once. Focus on one or two things and then once you’ve been able to consistently follow those patterns for some time, move on to the next goal. Don’t be a typical “New Year’s Resolutioner” and try to change too much in the first few months of the year. By making small changes over a long period of time you are more likely to reach your goals and maintain the results. Slow and steady wins the race.
What’s Up Next Week: The Dangers of Weight Cycling. Why You Should Strive for Consistency
This Week’s Recipe: Coconut-Almond Green Beans
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp sliced almonds
- 1/2 medium onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cilantro
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced (2 tablespoons) (optional)
- Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add almonds and cook until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them; they brown quickly! Transfer almonds to a plate for later.
- In the same pan, sauté onion, garlic, cumin, cilantro, paprika, chili pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until onion is soft and beginning to get brown, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add coconut milk to pan and mix well, then add green beans. Make sure everything is blended, then bring pan to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook covered until beans are tender. The cooking time depends on how tender you like your green beans. If you like them crisp, it’s about 6 minutes. If you like them softer, let them braise for about 8 minutes.
- When beans have reached the desired tenderness, remove lid and let sauce cool down until it thickens a bit. Remove pan from heat and stir in almonds, lime juice, and fresh cilantro (if using).