I hope you’ve had a happy and healthy 2011. As we look forward towards 2012, I’m guessing many of you, like me, list health and fitness goals among your New Year’s Resolutions. One of my resolutions is to get in shape and lose 5 pounds. I changed my diet almost 10 years ago and lost 40 pounds by adopting a healthy whole foods plant-based diet, but exercise has always been a bit of a struggle. Over the years, I have joined gyms and have quit. Last year, I finally started going to the gym on a pretty regular basis, but have been slacking the last couple of months. Sometimes it really does take a few tries to get going. I know that anyone can change almost any aspect of themselves. To ensure I’ll follow through and actually get fit this year, I’ll use SMART Goals. If your goal is to begin eating healthier or to go vegan (or achieve any other goal for that matter), use SMART Goals in the same way.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For example, instead of simply saying that I’d like to get in shape this year, I’m setting myself up for success. Here’s how:
1. Specific: This is the most important step. Answer the questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why and How?
In order for me to get in shape, I will go to 24 Hour Fitness on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10AM-12:00PM and on Saturday or Sunday morning (depending on my teaching schedule). I already have a fitness plan in place that was designed by a trainer. I’ll have my audio books loaded on my mp3 player and will have my gym clothes laid out the night before my workout. I’ll revisit my exercise routine with a personal trainer every 3 months to make it more challenging as necessary in order to achieve results.
If you want to get healthy or go vegan, be specific. What is it you really want? Define your goal. Why do you want to make this change? Do you want to lose weight? Lower cholesterol? Reduce risk of chronic diseases? Make sure your reasons are really compelling and that you want that change badly enough to work for it. Define how you will make it happen. What books or programs will you use to help you reach your goals? What tools will you use? For my suggestions on books to help you on your way, check out my Store.
2. Measurable: I’ll make an appointment with a fitness trainer early in January for a fitness assessment including weight, measurements, BMI and the dreaded body fat analysis (where the trainer squishes your muffin top together with giant pliers – that’ll be fun! J L). I’ll schedule quarterly appointments to keep me on track and to hold me accountable.
If you are working on your diet or going vegan, how will you measure your progress? If your goals are health-related, schedule a doctor’s visit with blood tests. If you are going vegan for ethical reasons, are you planning to go totally vegan right away, or ease into it? Either way, give yourself a way to measure your progress.
3. Attainable: I’m never going to look like Angelina Jolie and have super-skinny arms (can you tell I have a thing about my arms?), but I can firm and tighten my arms so I can look better in tank tops and can certainly tighten up my abs enough to look great in a bikini. Setting high, yet attainable goals helps you become more successful as higher goals are more motivating. Yes, I do want to be able to wear a bikini not a mom style tankini. That is my goal. That is what I must reach for. It’s certainly attainable with lots of hard work. If I’m more reasonable and say that I just want to look decent in a one-piece, I might be less motivated to work really hard at the gym or just skip it all together.
Make sure your goals are attainable, yet still challenging. If you really want to lower your cholesterol, for example, get your blood tested, then book yourself for a re-test in 3 months and again in 6 months. If your cholesterol is 200, write down that you want it to drop down by 20 points in 3 months and another 20 points in 6 months. To make this happen, do everything in your power, such as following Dr. Esselstyn’s or Dr. McDougall’s programs.
4. Realistic: I can’t compare myself to anyone but myself, especially not to models or actresses, who have had plastic surgery or who are airbrushed in magazines. All I can do is to strive to be the best version of myself.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, just like anything else, you have to take it one day at a time. Losing 1-2 pounds a week will add up to losing over 50 pounds in a year! If you really want to help animals and the environment, but aren’t quite ready to go vegan yet, begin by sampling several healthy vegan meals each week. When you feel comfortable, then jump in and go for it 100% for at least 3 weeks. You deserve to give your body at least 3 weeks on a healthy plant-based diet. If you eat a healthy meal on Monday and an unhealthy meal on Tuesday, you’ll never see results. Consistency and Commitment are absolutely vital to achieving any goal.
5. Timely: I’m going to check in on myself every week, month and three months to see how I’m doing. I want to get in shape by summer. Now is a good time to start.
If you want to lose weight, get healthy or go vegan, give yourself a deadline and tell a supportive friend. If you have a friend or family member who will join you on your journey of health and compassion, you are fortunate, indeed.
I wish you all the best on your journey. If you are in need of additional guidance, please feel free to contact me at Emily@emilywebber.com to set up a private Wellness Consultation.
For more on SMART Goals, check out this site: http://topachievement.com/smart.html