This is day 11 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.
“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Lou Holtz
What goals did you have for yourself when you started this course? It has been 11 days, so I bet some of you wanted to lose 20 pounds by this point. Some of you would be ridiculous because that is not at all attainable. Your sense of accomplishment all boils down to your expectations. If you set your expectations too high you will never feel accomplished, but if you set them too low, you will not accomplish anything. When you are setting your goals, make them SMART! Smart stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Specific – When setting your goals, make sure you specify the who, what, when, where, why, and how of what you are doing. Instead of saying ‘I want to run faster’, say ‘I want to run my hometown’s 5k with my husband and finish 1 minute faster than I did when I was in good shape 5 years ago, and I’ll get there by running 3 miles, 3 days a week’. Another example might be ‘I want to walk my dog for thirty minutes every other day around the block to strengthen my legs and burn calories’.
Measurable – Avoid setting goals that you can’t measure or track. It’s great to say you want to eat fewer carbs, but if you don’t make it more specific and add the number of grams of carbs and then monitor your carb intake (day 5), you won’t know if you have reached your goal.
Attainable – It is good to be ambitious, but do not be so ambitious that your goal becomes impossible to achieve. If you currently can only walk a mile before you are winded, it is not a great idea to say you are going to run a half marathon in 2 months, you will fail and become discouraged.
Relevant – Ask yourself if your goal is worthwhile and worth your time. While a goal to eliminate red meat from your diet will help with your overall health, eliminating all meats may not be relevant to your overall goal of improving your health.
Timely – Set a time frame for when to complete the goal. Will it take a month, a year, a lifetime? It is up to you to decide, but a goal without a deadline will never be achieved.
Now that you know how to make SMART goals, I want you to sit down with a pen and paper, your tablet, or whatever you take notes on, and think of some SMART goals to improve your health. Pin them up on your refrigerator, your desktop, your bulletin board, or somewhere that you will see them on a daily basis. This will keep the goals in your mind and motivate you to never miss a workout, or not take that cheat meal.
Another way to keep yourself motivated is to make it fun! To a lot of people exercising and eating healthy is a fate worse than death. It really does not have to be painful, and should be a lot of fun! Becoming a healthier person doesn’t mean you need to go out and run for miles or eat tofu for every meal. One of the best ways to improve your health is to find a hobby you are passionate about that is also a great exercise. Then any time you go have fun, you are improving your body. Some fun and healthy hobbies are hiking, swimming, and most sports will make the list.
Keep the ‘why’ in mind. It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it. The ‘why’ is the core of intrinsic motivation. For some people, knowing why they want to get fit is an easy answer, for others, it is a bit more difficult. An easy answer may be to look good for the summer. A more difficult answer may be they want to feel better, but ‘feeling better’ is hard to measure. So the ‘why’ should be SMART just like your other goals. Regardless of your reason for wanting to live a healthier life, hold onto it. Add it to your vision board and look at it every chance you get. It’s the people who never lose the sight of why they are exercising and eating healthy that will ultimately reach their goals.
When you achieve a goal, make sure you reward yourself. There are a lot of different ways to do this, and they range from small items such as being allowed to watch your favorite TV show after exercising, or large items such as once you lose 40 pounds you will go on a cruise in the Bahamas to show off your new body. Regardless of the method you choose, set rewards for yourself for each of your goals or milestones and do not let yourself get the reward until you reach the milestone, no cheating. This will motivate you to keep working to perhaps eat some ice cream for dessert or go to the movies and get popcorn and soda as a reward.
Lastly, do not underestimate motivational videos. It is amazing how much motivational videos can alter the way we think. They discuss the core of our desires and the difficult actions that it takes to get there. Every motivational video is different, but after watching any of them I always have the desire to reach my goals and start right after the video ends. Watching a motivation video before a workout will put you in a mindset of action to achieve your goals. You can click here to view the top motivational videos on YouTube.
I hope you are continuing to exercise, and have a basic workout plan that you are starting to follow. Tomorrow I am going to discuss some details about workout planning, and how to plan workouts on your own if you do not have a personal trainer.