How To Set New Year’s Goals That Work

How To Set New Year's Goals You'll Stick To by Certified Personal Trainer and Healthy Lifestyle Coach Jennifer Ledford

Happy New Year!

A brand new year is upon us and, for many of you, that means setting brand new goals or, in some cases, resurrecting old ones.  For some, setting New Year’s goals is exciting and for others, it can be a bit intimidating.

If you find yourself in the camp that’s hesitant to set new goals, you are not alone.  It’s a normal feeling that usually stems from fear of loss and/or failure.  Based on the statistics that  1/3 of the goal setters will have already broken their resolutions by January 7th, it’s understandable why the fear to commit to new goals exists.  Whether you are someone who is all fired up to set new goals, terrified, or somewhere in between, the good news is it’s entirely possible for anyone to set goals that they can stick to.  It just takes a little reflection and some know how.

How To Set NEW YEAR’S Goals You’ll Stick To

One of the main reasons people have a hard time keeping their resolutions after the new year is that the goals they’ve set are usually unrealistic.  Even the most disciplined person on the planet is going to have a hard time meeting a goal that is so lofty, the odds of winning the lottery are better than achieving the goals they’ve set.

For example, if you only have thirty minutes a day to exercise and it take twenty minutes to drive to the gym, setting a goal of going to the gym five days per week is a recipe for failure.

Five Tips To Set Goals That Work

1) Make it personal. Take a moment to look closely at the goals you’ve set and ask yourself whether or not they are aligned with your values and current priorities.

While looking like the model on the cover of a magazine may seem like a fantastic goal, after discovering what’s required, you may decide that’s not for you or, even more importantly, that’s not your body type and it would be extremely unhealthy for you to even attempt to get there.

It’s critical that your goals be your own. Copying someone else’s life can be like wearing shoes that are a bit too tight. It never feels quite right. It’s okay to use general guidelines but when you finally set the goals, they need to be customized to fit your life and be meaningful to you. You are an individual which makes a cookie-cutter approach  tough to stick to.

Look at your calendar and be realistic about how much time you can commit to your new goal. This is really important! Often times, we can get so caught up in the excitement of setting our New Year’s goals that we forget to think about the time involved.  Most of us have existing commitments (family, relationships, jobs, pets, etc.) that don’t go away at the end of the calendar year.

If you are struggling to find time, ask yourself if there are other commitments that you should put on hold or can delegate to someone else.  In order to create time for new goals we usually need to let go of other commitments or, in some cases, habits that are not serving us well.   Consider multi tasking when it’s appropriate, like exercising while you listen to a conference call or walking during your lunch hour. Do what you can. It’s better to get started with a smaller goal than to never begin at all.

2) Change one thing. The people that usually see the most success do so by setting one to two goals they know they can implement right away.

Start by committing to your new goal for thirty days and then evaluate whether or not it’s working for you.  Don’t be afraid to change things up and tweak things.  Adding a new “thing” to your life usually requires an adjustment period so allow yourself some time to figure out what works for you.

3) Write it down. People that commit their goals to paper have a higher success rate. So take a moment to write down your goals for each area of your life for the new year. If you are keeping your list realistic, it shouldn’t be too long. You can always add more later in the year once you’ve accomplished the first set. Keep your list posted in a place you’ll see it daily to help you stay on track.

4) Do the work. Once you’ve set your realistic goals, follow through and do your best to stick to your plan. Research shows us that once one healthy goal becomes a habit, momentum occurs which then leads to success in adding other healthy habits automatically.  This applies to every area of your life, not just health and fitness.  Goals that serve you well should all be considered healthy. 🙂

5) Don’t be afraid to change things up. From time to time circumstances may throw you off track. This is normal and happens to everyone.  Oftentimes, all you have to do is get up, shake off the dust, and get back on track.  Other times (like when I recently broke my foot) you have to pivot and make some temporary and/or permanent changes.  That doesn’t mean you are a failure.  It means you are living life and adapting to whatever comes your way.

New Year’s resolutions should advance and take you forward long-term but not be so lofty or torturous that they are completely unobtainable. Keeping this mindset will allow you to set yourself up for total success.

Have a Happy New Year!

With love,
Jennifer

P.S. Have a question or comment? Please post it below in the comment section and/or on my Facebook page. I love to hear from you!

Just Say No To The Diet Trap!

Woman is Hungry Dieting - Lose weight without the diet trap - by personal trainer Jennifer Ledford

Today’s article comes from deep within my heart.

It’s a brand new year and for many people a new year means fresh new goals and/or resolutions.  If your goal is to lose weight, it can be really tempting to try the latest fad diet that the fitness or diet industry is promoting.  It’s a normal human response to be intrigued by all the marketing that these industries roll out in January… especially if you’ve gained a few pounds over the holidays.

Before you jump on board and commit to a new diet, it’s important you know that temporary, restrictive diets have a 95% failure rate and can do more harm than good.

Have you ever suffered through the physical and emotional torment of the latest fad diet simply to find yourself unsuccessful and frustrated?

Or, maybe you lost a bunch of weight only to gain it back again. Even worse, you gained back more than you lost.

You are not alone. As a personal trainer I have seen and even personally experienced so much physical and psychological damage from dieting, it makes me want to scream!

Some of the reasons diets fail you are:

They slow down your metabolism
They cause you to store fat, not burn it
They’re unsustainable for most people’s lifestyle
When you stop starving yourself and go back to a normal calorie-consumption, you WILL gain weight
Lack of energy due to being hungry
Some diets ask you to eliminate entire food groups and key nutrients
They can cause binge eating
They can cause stress which is known to cause belly fat due to hormonal changes in the body

Look, I get it. You want to get thinner and you want it now. Most of us do not want to wait the amount of time it takes to lose weight that statistically stays off for life. The diet industry is counting on that and the marketing is very convincing!

Losing weight and keeping it off for good without dieting starts with a change in mindset.  The mindset that you are going to switch to healthy eating.  Eating for health and dieting to lose weight do not always look the same.  Things like portion control, cutting back the foods and or liquids that you know are excessive,  avoiding overly processed foods, and meal planning are all considered healthy eating, not starvation diets or skipping meals entirely.

HERE ARE SIX TIPS THAT WILL HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT DIETING

1) You need to eat.  It absolutely amazes me that there are still diets out on the market today that recommend dangerously low calorie meal plans when the science says otherwise.  Your body will get really good at storing what it doesn’t get enough of.  For example, if you eliminate fat from your diet, your body will not want to burn fat. It will want to store fat.  Sound nutritional research tells us that you need to eat fat in order to burn fat.  I am a firm believer that the low fat and low carb craze has contributed heavily to the obesity crisis in the United States.

Instead of restricting what you eat, you’ll find more success when you focus on a balanced diet that is centered around whole foods.   A balanced diet includes carbohydrates, proteins, fruits & vegetables, healthy fats, and water.  Any diet that cuts one of these important nutrients out should be avoided.

2) Exercise almost every day.  Do your best to exercise six days per week. Try an interval workout 2-3 times per week and alternate with more moderate activity on the rest of the days.

Choose a fun activity on your off day like a moderate hike, cross country skiing, swimming, or taking your kids or your dog to the park.

If exercising six days per week seems overwhelming, start with 20 minutes per day 2-3 days per week . You’ll still get better results than doing nothing at all.

3) Eat in.  This is the biggest tip I can give you.  Cook at home for the next 30 days and bring your lunch. Use light recipes from sources like EatingWell, Cooking Light, and Health magazine.

4) Cut back on liquid calories. Try substituting alcohol, sodas, and other higher calorie drinks with water. Try adding lemon or cucumber for some variation.

If cutting out liquid calories sounds extreme, take a more moderate approach and cut down to half or even a quarter of what you usually drink. You can always go back to your normal consumption if you want to.  This is about figuring out what works for you personally.

5) Cut back on dessert.  Desserts are usually loaded with calories. If you have a sweet tooth, try substituting with fruit or one piece of dark chocolate.

6)  Be authentically you.  It’s really important that you pay close attention to what’s most important to you.  Not everyone wants to be or was designed to look like the models on the cover of fitness magazines.  If challenging yourself to reach an elite athlete status is fun for you and you can achieve it in a healthy way, then by all means go for it!  However, if you know in your heart of hearts you’d just like to live a long healthy life, fit in your jeans, and have the stamina to do the activities you enjoy without a whole lot of restrictions in your life, then general health and fitness is for you so please don’t beat yourself up because you’re not “doing whatever it takes” to look like a fitness model.

I recommend you try my suggestions above for the next 30 days and stay consistent.  However, If this all seems a bit overwhelming,  pick as many things from above that you can realistically implement right away and stay consistent.  Diet and exercise are very personal which is why a canned approach rarely works.  We all have different lives, different goals, and different needs. 🙂

To your long term health and fitness!
Jennifer

How To Set Weight Loss Goals That You’ll Stick To

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Millions of Americans will start off the New Year with the goal to lose weight and exercise more. It’s always great to hear those statistics! However, as a health and fitness coach for 26 plus years, I can also tell you from experience that 1/3 of the goal setters will have already broken their resolutions by January 7th. That is frustrating because I also know from experience it doesn’t have to be that way.

HOW TO SET WEIGHT LOSS GOALS YOU’LL STICK TO

Before setting any new health and fitness goals, it’s important to know what causes people to fail in the first place. One of the main reasons people have a hard time keeping their resolutions after the new year is that the goals they’ve set are usually unrealistic. Even the most disciplined person on the planet is going to have a hard time keeping a goal that is way too lofty to start with.

Permanent weight loss and maintaining a regular exercise routine is a lifestyle that is built by developing one healthy habit at a time — not created by some unsustainable fad diet or painful exercise routine!

FIVE TIPS TO SET WEIGHT LOSS GOALS THAT WORK

1) Know what you want. Take a moment to decide what you want your end-goal to be and whether or not that is aligned with your values and current priorities. While looking like the model on the cover of a magazine may seem like a motivating goal, after discovering what’s required, you may decide that’s not for you.

Keep your goals personal.  Copying someone else’s health and fitness goals can be like wearing shoes that are a bit too tight.  It never feels quite right.  It’s okay to use general guidelines, but when you finally set the goals, they need to be customized to fit your life. You are an individual which makes a cookie-cutter approach tough to stick to.

Look at your calendar and be realistic about how much time you can commit to your new weight loss goal.  This is really important!  Often times, we can get so caught up in the excitement of setting new goals that we forget to think about the time involved.  Adding a new “thing” to your life usually requires an adjustment period so allow yourself some time to figure out what works for you.

If you are struggling to find time, ask yourself if there are other commitments that you should put on hold.  If that’s not possible, consider being creative with your time like exercising when you watch TV or walking during your lunch hour.  Do what you can.  It’s better to get started with a smaller goal than to never begin at all.

2) Change one thing.  The people that see the most success do so by setting small incremental goals, knowing that they are committing to the long term and not just temporary behavior change. For example, if you eat out 4-5 times per week, set a goal to brown bag your lunch or cook at home 5 days per week for the next 30 days. Or if you want to add more exercise, tell yourself you’re going to walk 20 minutes per day for the next month.

At the end of the 30 days, commit to another 30 and then repeat. Once the first habit becomes as natural as brushing your teeth, you’re in a safe place to add more to your plate.

Or, if you’ve reached your desired goal, you are now in what we call maintenance mode. You can now continue your healthy habit for life. Mission accomplished!

3) Write it down.  People that commit their goals to paper have a higher success rate. So take a moment to write down your goals for each area of your life for the new year. If you are keeping your list realistic, it shouldn’t be too long. You can always add more later in the year once you’ve accomplished the first set.  Keep your list posted in a place you’ll see it daily to help you stay on track.

4) Do the work.  Once you’ve set your realistic weight loss goal, follow through and stick to your plan. Research shows us that once one healthy goal becomes a habit, momentum occurs leading to success in adding other healthy lifestyle habits automatically.

5) Don’t quit.  From time to time circumstances may throw you off track. This is normal and happens to everyone. All you have to do is get up, get back on track and you will succeed in the long term.

New Year’s resolutions should advance and take you forward, but not be so lofty or torturous that they are completely unobtainable. Keeping this mindset will allow you to set yourself up for total success.

Have a Happy New Year!
Jennifer

P.S.  Have a question or comment?  Please post it below in the comment section.  I love to hear from you!