Three Steps for People Who Set “Health” Goals and Never Actually Achieve Them
We began this blog series discussing getting in touch with goals that you *really* want. Last week, we stressed the fact that if you truly want to reach a goal, you must make time and/or sacrifices for it. This final installment is going to wrap both of those things together and tie them up with a bow made of tough love, and it will start with this: if you are constantly setting goals and not reaching them, you are the only one that can fix that.
Don’t worry, though; this post is dedicated to outlining steps that will help you fix that. But first things first, you have to accept the following items:
The process may not be pretty, easy, or fun at every moment.
You might have to accept that you will never be just like the people you strive to be.
You’re going to have to do SOME work.
The process may take time. It might take A LOT of time. And you may not want to give it a lot of time, because you have a vacation in 2 months or summer in (hopefully) 3. But if you DO NOT accept this- you are most likely never going to reach your goals.
Step 1: Describe what being healthy means to you.
Before you even start writing (yes, writing. You are writing all of this down. TRUST ME HERE) get rid of ANY images of other people that pop into your head when you think “health.” This is going to be difficult, because our culture is constantly shoving ideas of “health” into your face. Commercials, TV Shows, social media, etc.; we have never been more obsessed with becoming healthy. But I want you to think about YOU, and think about it for a little while- what does your healthiest you look like TO YOU?
This might include the following things: weight, body fat percentage, strength ability, endurance ability, skill ability, energy, dress size, skin/digestive health, sleep schedule, morning/evening routines, etc. Be SPECIFIC here (I want to weigh x pounds, be able to do x pushups, be able to run x miles…) and be extensive (there are never too many answers).
Now for the tricky part: after you have your completed list, go back over it and cross out anything that doesn’t have value to you. This may seem silly because you made the list, so of course everything is valuable. But this may not be true. If something has value, you’d be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get it. If you’re not willing to give up drinking for that six-pack, you probably don’t ACTUALLY value a six pack. A lot of times our goals are standards society has made us believe we should value, but we actually don’t. Whether or not those goals are true markers of “health” is completely irrelevant if they don’t matter to you, so toss them.
Don’t be afraid to add to this list as you grow and evolve, because your goals will likely change as you do. But it’s important to always have this clear picture because otherwise, the next step will not work.
Step 2: Determine your hell yes and hell no lists.
The next two lists you make are completely different. These lists might also take some time and a bit of research (if you are unsure how to meet your goals), and could be made a lot clearer with a trainer or fitness professional to refine them. If you don’t have a trainer, however, I am confident you can do it on your own.
Hell Yes List
This is a list of things/activities/mindsets/changes you need to be willing to adopt to reach your healthiest you. Perhaps you are already doing some of them, and if so, great! I still want you to write them down as positive reinforcement. This list should also be very extensive and cover every detail, no matter how small.
Hell No List
This is a list of things/activities/mindsets/changes you are NOT willing to adopt to reach your healthiest you (for my friend, Julia, this list would include donuts. No matter her fitness plan, she refuses to give up this occasional treat). It is vital that you be realistic here- if you are not willing to adopt a training schedule when your goal is to run a marathon, we need to evaluate that in step three. Think about things you truly value: Tuesday bowling league and the beers that come with it, Sunday night dinner out with your partner, sleeping from 5-6am instead of getting up for the gym, watching Netflix on Sundays instead of meal prepping, and so on. You have to be very honest with yourself here and distinguish between things you truly value and things you are afraid of changing. Fears we can conquer; values we want to keep.
Step 3: Cross reference your lists and come up with your healthiest and truest YOU
This is where being honest with yourself is even more important. Take your list of goals and match it with the things you are willing and not willing to change about your current life. I’m going to take a very extreme example to illustrate my point here.
Let's say my number one goal is to have six-pack abs. I currently have 25% body fat, and to have a six-pack, I need to be closer to 16-18%.
I am willing to go to the gym 7 days per week because I love working out. It is a social thing for me; I take a lot of classes with friends and it doesn’t even feel like work!
I am willing to skip breakfast to lower my calorie intake.
I am willing to sleep 8 hours per night and give up nighttime Netflix binges to give my body proper recovery.
I am not willing to meal prep; I don’t have the time and because I travel a ton on the weekends (#wanderlust) it’s not realistic.
I am not willing to follow a structured workout plan; I love my social classes and don’t want to go to the gym alone.
I am not willing to give up alcohol.
I hope you see some of the issues with my goal. Because I do not value some of the steps I need to take to reach my goal, something will have to change: either my goal or my values.
I can say from experience that goals are a lot easier to change than values. Many times, our values are wrapped up into our relationships, our beliefs, our culture, and our beloved routines. On top of that- I may think I really WANT six-pack abs, but unless I am willing to make those changes, there is a good chance it’s not as important to me as I thought.
Go through this step with each item from your first list. This will be a tedious task, but in the end you will have a much more realistic picture of achievable goals. This is also an activity you should be doing regularly, every few months! Life changes us, and with that, our goals, values, and time available may evolve too. Not only will your goals be completely relevant and realistic to you if you follow this three step process, but they will also fit into your life in a way that you can still enjoy the things you truly love.
I could certainly give you a nutrition and exercise plan that forces you to give up your weekend outings or spontaneous happy hours, but what would that be worth? If you aren’t living a life you wholeheartedly enjoy, what is the point of those end goals? Even if you think you will be super confident with that six-pack, you are likely still going to be unhappy in a lifestyle that doesn't bring you joy.
As always- we are here to help. At SpeciFit, we are Specific to Fit YOU. If this is too much information to navigate on your own, you know where to find us!