Here we are—2022. The start of a new year; it’s a time for self reflection and for setting our goals for the year to come. Who better to ask than my trainer, Thomas Lyonette, for advice about setting—and attaining—my goals for 2022!
While January is typically hyped as the time to make resolutions, we all know that February is usually when those grandiose plans start to fall by the wayside. The media craze of resolutions at this time of the year definitely adds to the pressure, but all things considered, January is genuinely a great month to set personal goals. You can shake off the dust from the previous year and start fresh with a clean slate. It also allows you to reset your health goals because you’ve had time off from diets with delicious holiday meals, along with a chance to unwind, relax, and contemplate the direction you want this year to take.
I asked Tom what kind of resolutions he had set for himself this year. Not surprisingly, he said, “Stronger, Happier, Healthier!”. However, he did mention that his goals have changed over the years. Whereas he used to set more sport-related goals like beating personal bests (PBs) and better performance, he now focuses on more long term health goals like living pain free into his old age because he wants to be able to play and go on adventures with his daughter for many years to come.
When contemplating any kind of goal, Tom has some suggestions to make the process easier. First,think about what it is that you want to change. Ask yourself where you want to be: Where would you feel good, happy? Once you have the destination in view, it’s a lot easier to see the path to get there. Second, have a plan; set a goal and work backwards to set the steps to get there, then begin.
It also helps to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, in which goals are: Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; and Timely. When you don’t measure your changes, there is no motivation and therefore no encouragement. A relatable example would be acknowledging that you may have to step on a scale to track weight loss. If you hate using the scale, you can actively record your workouts and track your calories instead to MEASURE the work you’re consistently doing.The first few months after setting and working towards a goal can be a shock. Give yourself room to breathe. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on; don’t beat yourself up!
It can be hard to get back to our workout schedules after a cold or illness has knocked us out of the habit. We still feel sluggish and slow, and flopping on the couch sounds pretty darn good. This is a very important point—nothing is a failure. Shake it off and start again; get rid of the self criticism and negative thought processes. There is always a way to keep moving forward towards your goal even when you’re not at 100%. This is called a growth mindset. Once we look at things with this mindset, the setbacks are not final. Just show up, and keep moving forward.
So what makes a goal realistic? Consider whether it’s mentally and physically healthy; does it build into your happiness and health, and is it sustainable? This last question is significant. For example, boxers need to make a certain weight to fight, so they may set a goal of losing weight by fight night. They can avoid hydrating and eat almost nothing to make their goal weight, but it’s NOT sustainable. If they kept that up for the long term, they would be light-headed, partial to fainting, and have a foggy brain… essentially, it’s an unhealthy long-term goal. Keep this in mind while designing your goals.
I’m sure we can all agree that setting the goals isn’t the hardest part; it’s actually achieving them! So I asked Tom how we can stay motivated to attain our goals. He suggested the following:
- Give things a shot for 3-6 months before making your judgement. When we first start out on our fitness journey, our bodies will not be used to it and we will FEEL the change, often in the form of muscle pain and stiffness for the next few days. Give yourself a chance to move past that to really feel the positive changes and stop feeling the new-to-this-type-of-movement pains.
- Try a group fitness class. Class settings are easier to “hide” in if you’re feeling nervous about the gym environment. It also provides a community of like minded people to help keep you excited and motivated.
- Talk to other students or instructors of what interests you.
- Listen to what pulls your interest; the more we enjoy an activity, the more likely we are to stick to it. Always wanted to try curling? Now’s your time.
- Talk to a coach or trainer. No one will know better what’s required for their sport than them! Interested in Olympic lifting? Talk to a personal trainer and they can assess you, your movement, and your current ability, then they can make suggestions on how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
- Write out your goal and put it where you can see it everyday!
- Keep the timeframe of your goals short at the start. Numerous small victories will build your confidence and will power for bigger, more long-term goals.