Friday, December 30, 2011

Setting Goals: The steps

I have been procrastinating writing about goals.  Doesn’t bode well for my New Year!  Every time I start to write – I decide I need to research.  I generally find the same information from lots of different sources so I think I need to dig deeper.  I get sidetracked and then the natives get restless – how many times do these boys need to eat anyway?  Am I that fun that they want me to play with them so much?

So, despite the general advice being so similar, I did find some very inspirational stories that I hope to share in the next couple of days.  I am also excited to share some stories from people I adore and admire!

Now for the basic tenets of goal setting:

1.        Set a specific goal with a timeline.  (For example – I will lose 10 pounds and increase my energy through regular exercise by March.)  To determine your goal you need to do your own research:

a.     Visit your health care provider to get a workup/physical.  Determine your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, body fat percentage, etc.  Letting your doctor in on your desires will help keep you from taking on anything too drastic or unhealthy.

b.     Check in with reputable sources online to determine a healthy/happy weight, BMI, etc.  I love (SELF: Happy Weight, SELF:  Ideal Weight), but there are countless other sites that can help guide you.

c.     Talk to others who have been there, done that.  These can be people in your life or on social networking and support sites.  And of course I will be passing on some very wise words from people who have been doing it!

2.        Determine your plan of attack! 

a.     Trying to lose 30 pounds?  Break it down to 1-2 pounds lost a week.  Find new recipes and add whole grains and veggies to your meals.  Try some new exercises and log it all.

b.     Trying to de-clutter your home?  Have a room-by-room or section-by-section break down.  Arrange weekly trips to the thrift store (say every Wednesday) or schedule a pick-up for big pieces.  Don’t forget to get tax receipts!  Another good idea is to plan a swap or yard sale with friends.  Nothing like a deadline to get you moving.

c.     Trying to sleep more?  Buy room darkening shades or a sound machine.  Start writing your worries down before bed.  Take a bath before turning in to bring down your body temperature (signaling sleep).  Make your room a tech free zone – this includes TVs, iThings, laptops, smart phones, etc.  Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every few days.

3.        Visualize.  This was such a great tip!  It helps weed out what you think you want versus what you really desire.  Whether it is getting back to your high school weight (probably not practical) or someone else’s opinion of you (doesn't really matter!) – you need to figure out what is right for you - your body, mind and health.

a.     Experts recommend visualizing yourself going through the steps and then achieving your goal daily.  Ideally upon waking, mid day, and again before bed. 

b.     Inspiration boards are really helpful.  Fill one with images and quotes that move you. 

c.     Make it personal:  whether it is a picture or memory that brings you joy – find a way to remind yourself often.  You might not have been a size 2 during a weekend trip with your girlfriends – but you may have tried things you wouldn’t normally try or put yourself first.  Tap into that!

d.     A mantra you can repeat and post in areas you see frequently (bathroom mirror, dashboard, computer screen) will help remind you of your goal.  This should be a positive statement!  Saying “I don't want to be fat" will not help you reach your goal.  Repeating “I am strong” or “I deserve health” will give you something to draw on.

e.     Ask friends and family to tell you what they think your positive attributes are.  Write them down (or have them do it!) and keep it in a positive file.  I got this tip on the Daily Challenge though Me You Health (  These people have helped me make great strides for myself – and I haven’t met a single one!  A very positive place to visit.

f.    The key to visualizing is being realistic and positive.  I have had Olivia Wilde up on my board for a while before realizing that I will never be as thin as she is.  And that the qualities I admire in her (besides her ridiculous good looks) are her drive and her attitude toward health.  She does yoga and eats thoughtfully and when I think healthy – that is what I envision.  You can’t photo-shop that!

4.        Share and ask for help.  This is definitely an important step.  I had a hard time sharing goals because, it seemed to me, I was inviting others to watch me fail.  But this blog showed me that it helps to hold me accountable.  Your friends and family can help support you in your efforts.  

a.     If you want to get to sleep earlier – letting your spouse or roommate know will make it easier to say no to a marathon of Storage Wars.  If you are trying to eat healthier – letting your family know will help at gatherings.  Again – positive is best!  Don’t turn this into the blame game or a chance to criticize someone else.  If your Mom makes fantastic, albeit less than healthy, food – ask if you can bring a healthy, delicious dish to share.  Use “I” statements and ask for their support for you.  I have decided to go vegan after 9 months of vegetarianism, but I definitely won’t be discussing animal rights at the next family dinner!  This is not a time to alienate – most people are more open to trying new things if you bring a positive, no pressure, approach. 

b.     You might find new allies.  I was excited last year to find that many of my friends in the MOMS Club were willing to walk with me.  We had stroller brigades walking to the river and back and we hosted workouts in my backyard.  A Facebook page helped us motivate each other and share tips and seek advice.

c.     Another way to gain from sharing is by signing up for a trainer, joining a class at the gym, enlisting a friend as a workout buddy, or volunteering at the animal shelter to walk dogs.  When you know there is someone else counting on you – it makes it easier to make the choice to do it.

5.        Track it.  There are many ways to do this:

a.     Food/Exercise/Sleep Logs – this lets you look back and see how much you have done.  Some people do this online, others in a notebook, whatever works for you.  Write down what you did or ate, how you felt, what you want to do next. 

b.     To Do List – Some people thrive on lists.  These can be short or long term.  It can entail what you want to do or what you already have done.

c.     Calendaring – A literal calendar where you jot what you want to do or what you have done.  For example:  Planning your workouts or de-cluttering schedule or noting what you have accomplished.  I loved tracking my runs (distance and time) on a calendar and it came in handy when I was having heart trouble because I could say – heart trouble after 3.3 miles.

6.        Reach your goal or Modify.  Some very wise, successful people don’t believe you need to modify your goals.  You set it and reach it, overcoming obstacles along the way.  I think that this is kind of like how you forget how awful childbirth was the moment you get to hold your little angel in your arms.  Then with the next pregnancy you remember and wonder how you got yourself into this again.  So – it’s up to you!  Sometimes you might realize that your goal was a little too lofty and scale it back a bit.  Other times you might surpass your goal and keep on going.  You need to be judge of this!  If you aimed for a size 4 only to realize that you are a really sexy 6 or if you wanted to train for a half-marathon only to realize that a triathlon would be way cooler – let you heart, mind, and soul guide you.

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