In the season of New Year’s resolutions, goals for the upcoming year, and losing extra holiday pounds, many of us are hitting the gym and starting new diets. Along with that, we (physical therapists) often see injuries that occur during new workout programs and from nutritional imbalances. Here are a few things that can help you stick to your goals and keep you safe and healthy in this New Year:
1) Set realistic short and long term goals.
- When writing your goals, they should be realistic, attainable, and have a time frame.
- If your long term goal is to “lose 10 lbs”, then your short term goal will be the simple every day steps to reach that point in order to avoid a quick, dramatic change that will likely not stick. For example, having a goal to lose 1 lb each week for 10 weeks is more realistic (and healthier!!!) than trying to lose the 10 Lbs in 2 weeks. A safe amount of weight is 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week. It also includes steps in how to get to that goal; for example, preparing meals so that you are able to “eat clean”, exercising for 30 minutes each day 3x/ week, and carrying a water bottle so you can drink your minimum of 8 cups of water a day.
- Many goals people make as resolutions are unrealistic… if your goal is to lose 20 lbs, and you only have 5 lbs to lose to keep a healthy weight, then 20 lbs is not only unrealistic but also not healthy for your body. Also if you want to work out 5 days a week, and currently don’t have an exercise regimen, it might be more realistic to start with 3 days a week of exercise to avoid excessive muscle soreness, joint pain, or overuse injuries.
2) Don’t overdo it and listen to your body.
- The mind is a powerful thing… when we set our minds to do something, often times it can over shadow what our bodies are trying to tell us. When you are starting a new exercise program some discomfort or “muscle burn” is normal, but pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If you are starting to have pain with your new activity or exercise regimen, don’t keep thinking that it will “work itself out”. Physical therapists are available at our clinic to help you recover more quickly so you can get back to working on reaching your goals.
3) Visualize your goals in action and write it down.
- This helps in planning the process and focusing attention on the steps needed to achieve your goals.
- Visualization helps to reduce the stress or anxiety (or feeling overwhelmed) about new lifestyle changes/ habits, so you can have that “eye of the tiger” feeling when conquering your new challenge.
- Writing things down helps to put plan into action, and gives you a reference you can go back to when you meet goals or make progress.
4) MODERATION, MODERATION, MODERATION!!!!
- Instead of making drastic changes and depriving yourself to reach your goals, do everything in moderation. For example, if you really want that cookie, allow yourself a “cheat meal” 2-3x/ week so that you can treat yourself for all your hard work. Just make sure that your meals around that time are “clean” and healthier options.
- If you are feeling drained or tired from your exercise program, allow yourself that time to rest. Either go for a walk instead of that run (it’s still healthy) or give yourself a rest day, and just get back at it again the next day.
5) STICK it out!!! It takes at least 21-30 days (3-4 weeks) to make a new habit. Whatever you do, determine to yourself that you will do it for at least 1 month. It will get easier after that, and will feel more like a natural part of your routine.