Aloha and Happy New Year! It’s New Year goal setting time, and if you’re like me, you’re thinking about how to bounce back from a setback. I know that these types of challenges can be daunting—I had a knee replacement last year that I still haven’t fully recovered from—but don’t let the task at hand discourage you. At the end of the day, the goal you set for yourself is only about you and how you’re going to get there. Not how long it will take or whether someone else beats you. Nothing else—just you and your plan.
To make your journey more manageable (and enjoyable!) here are some tips that have helped me over the past year.
YOUR GET-IT-DONE GAME PLAN
Set smaller, more achievable goals.
If you have one, big vague or unrealistic goal in mind, you’re setting yourself up for failure and frustration from the get go. Start slow and work towards a new bite-sized goal each month. For example, if you haven’t been active or eating healthfully, create goals that reflect your starting point. Trying to go to gym seven days a week and eat only kale probably isn’t the best idea. Instead, commit to moving more three to four days a week and cutting out your worst nutritional habit, like fast food. If you need help setting smarter goals, check out Personal Goal Setting, which launches later this month.
Have realistic expectations.
When I had my knee surgery, I thought I would be doing pirouettes after eight weeks. That didn’t happen. At eight weeks I was still limping around on a stiff leg. So I ditched my high expectations and just committed to the process my doctor had laid out for me. And lo and behold, I have been making gains each week. So even if you have an end goal in mind—like losing 30 pounds—try not to get fixated on it. Appreciate the small gains you make along the way.
Don’t rush your timeline.
Keep the faith and follow the plan you create for yourself. By focusing on short-term goals, as I mentioned above, you’re more likely to experience mini successes along the way that will keep you fired up and motivated to continue.
Beware of negative emotions.
If you wake up one day and feel blah or uninspired, let it out. Tell one person you can trust, then try to get back to a positive place. Fear creates anger and frustration. So believe in yourself. If you follow the plan and stay disciplined, you’ll reach your goals.
Create a nutrition strategy.
Food is a hugely important part of any get-healthy goal, but can we all agree to ditch the word “diet” for now? It has so many negative connotations. Think about creating a nutrition strategy instead. Here are some basic rules to follow, regardless of whether you’re vegan or eat animal products:
- Eat food that is as close to it’s original form as possible (i.e. potatoes vs. potato chips.
- Only eat until you are full.
- Avoid processed sugary drinks and foods.
- Use food as fuel and not as something to self medicate with.
- When offered something unhealthy, say “I don’t eat that” instead of “I can’t eat that.”
- When faced with temptation, ask yourself, “How is this food serving me and my goals?”
- Prep meals ahead of time whenever you can. For instance, if you’re cooking a healthy dinner, make extra food to take to work the next day. (Need some dinner ideas? Try this Big Batch Winter Meal Plan.)
Track your progress.
So much of health is about how you feel, so having an objective log of your journey can be a great help. If you feel down one day, flip through the Steps and Exercise logs in your Fitbit app for proof that you’re making strides.
And most of all, remember the words attributed to the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Whatever your goals are, you can do it. Just take that first step.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.