Goal Setting

I want to…

If you are like many of us, you want to live a healthy lifestyle. The first step is to define what a healthy lifestyle means to you.

What does being healthy mean to you?

This can differ greatly from one person to the next and you shouldn’t take someone else’s definition of healthy as your own.

Do the changes you are considering fit your vision of a healthy lifestyle?

I had an interesting conversation with a client today that wants to lose 15 lbs.
“I need some strategies,” he said to me.
As a trainer and coach, I don’t want to tell someone what healthy is. Each person has to decide what is important enough for them to change. If its not important then you won’t care if you change or not. When I asked him what he wants to work on he said the following.
“I don’t eat enough breakfast”
“I sometimes eat chips”
“I had a creme brulee coffee at starbucks, but I don’t usually”
“Portion size is a really big thing, I have to stop going back for seconds”
There were some other parts of the conversation but this is more than enough to make my point.

Now Change

I ask, “Do you want to set a goal around one or more of the items you mentioned?” “How about not going back for seconds… I’ll just put more on my plate.”  Insert desired cliche. This is where the rubber meets the road. You want to lose 15 lbs, this is where change happens.
When you want something, you have to CHANGE your behavior in order to get it.
If you want to get more rest, you have two choices. Change the time you go to bed or change the time you wake up.
If you want to eat more vegetables, you have to change your routine to make sure there are more vegetables around.
You have to make choices about which behaviors you are willing to change.
Goals are the yardage markers on the football field of life.
If your “endzone” is to lose 40 pounds, your goal is to get one first down. For those of you who are unfamiliar with football. A football field is 100 yards long and you have to go 10 yards to get a first down.
In the weight loss analogy that first down may equal 5 pounds. You can’t lose 40 pounds without losing 5 first.
40 pounds is a good outcome goal, however, outcome goals do not lead to behavior change. This is a critical distinction to make when you are setting yourself up to achieve anything.
The outcome goal has no clear action plan. Motivation alone often drys up in the face of adversity.
 adversity |adˈvərsitē| noun
difficulties; misfortune:
Allow me to add, eating out with friends, work life, kids, bottle of wine, unsupportive spouse, lack of sufficient rest and just general busy lives.

Wait, isn’t it about the outcome? No…Yes

If the outcome is our destination how do we get there? After you have chosen an outcome that is IMPORTANT TO YOU (this part is absolutely critical,) work to break it down into “first downs” or incremental goals.
  • Each goal should be measurable and include only one behavior change (I will measure my portions) This is just an example of a clear behavior i.e., measuring portions.
  • Be important to you and not imposed from outside
  • Must address environmental factors such as outside support and other issues that effect successful implementation
  • Evolve as you experience the reality unfolds.
Its ok to have more than one initial goal but keep each goal specific to one main issue.
I will go to bed at 10:00 pm and wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual to make myself oatmeal for breakfast and start off my day energized.
I will eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
I will substitute carrots/celery sticks for chips/pretzels/crackers.
***Just because the example is a weight loss goal doesn’t mean that your goal can’t be based around getting more rest, spending time with your family, exercising more, decreasing the amount of work you do outside the office. There are many aspects of overall wellness, weight loss is just the current example.
Treat each week is a trial run. See how you did at the end of the week and if you need to correct anything implement the corrections and try again. Always keep the incremental goals directed at the overall outcome from the vision.
Behavioral Goal: I will stretch for 20 minutes 3 times per week at the gym.
Desired Outcome: Decrease lower back and hip pain and move more freely
Behavioral Goal: I will shop for fresh fruits and vegetables at least weekly and eat 5 fruits and vegetables every day.
Desired Outcome: Lose weight so I will feel better and have more energy.
Enlist the support of those closest to you. Let them know how important these long term outcomes are to you and watch the response you get.
Behavior change is not easy but if you know what you want (vision) and you create a wellness plan (behavioral goals,) you may just be amazed at what you can achieve.
I’ve seen it work, I know it can be done and I know you can do it!