New Beginnings

By Samantha Casmey, Manager Health Fitness and Recreation, YMCA of Greater Toronto

This year I’m going to lose 20 lbs. This year, I’m going to exercise regularly. This year, I’m going to run a 10K race. This year I’m going to (insert favourite resolution here.) Sound familiar? For many “resolutioners” Jan 1 inevitably signals expectations of success, of instantaneous good habit formation, of new resolve. Positive energy is great, but reality sets in quickly (sometimes by Jan 2!) and old habits resume. Oh well, there’s always next year. There has to be a better way. There is and the good news is you’ve probably already done it – just in another area of your life. It’s called planning. You may spend more time planning a trip to the grocery store than you spend planning how to lose 20 lbs. The level of planning will be individual. Some people will need a detailed roadmap, others will need a few checkpoints. If you go to the grocery store with a detailed list, including specials prices, sizes and quantities and can tell to the dollar how much you are spending, this type of detail will help with your fitness related goal as well.

Let’s use losing weight as an example.

Losing weight is a long term goal (if you want it to stay off) – expect it to be achieved over the course of a year. If you think this is too long – put it into perspective. Have you ever done something the quick way, only to have to do it again – at now twice the cost and twice the effort? Losing weight is the same idea. The changes you make should be sustainable and contribute to your good health, not detract from it (e.g. fad diets.) You don’t want to have to do it all over again.

So – losing weight – long term goal – check. Long term goals need to be broken down to more readily achievable targets. What are your short and medium term goals to get you there? Think small things. Think sustainable things. Think about the things you are doing (or not doing) that help or hinder your progress. Write them down and rank them. What would be an easy win? What might be a more difficult change? Tackle a few easy things first. This will help you feel successful. As your confidence grows, start tackling the harder stuff.

Want to increase your chances of success? Try these things: Tell people – Use facebook, tell your colleagues, tell your dentist. Find your supporters and let them support you. Track your progress – Give yourself a gold star for each successful day. Make sure you have contingency plans – think about where you might go astray and decide ahead of time how you will deal with it.

So, this year, take some time to plan and you may find the path to success a little easier to navigate.

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