You reap what you sow

superhero.jpgAs we head into March I am told that by this time of the year most new Year’s resolutions have been unfulfilled with many people back to where they started before making their bold commitments. So it’s time for a reality check! Are you moving towards your goal or away from it? Every decision you make will invariably move you either towards your goal or away from it. Deciding to skip the gym and press the snooze button will move you away, just one more glass of wine will move you away, I’ll take the lift and not the stairs will move you away. Deciding to join a gym (if you use it) will move you towards, hiring a trainer or walking to the shops will move you towards. You get the point? Ultimately all your decisions will move you one step closer or one step further away from your health and fitness goal, which is it to be?

You reap what you sow!! Oh Yes what you invested in your fitness, health and well being last year you are probably sowing right now. And yes you got it, what you sow right now this week you will reap later on in the month or later in the year. Is what you are doing reaping the rewards? If not it’s time to sow something different. Join a gym, find a new activity or get a training partner. Remember what you sow now you will be reaping this time next year!! The decisions you take today will affect your health and fitness tomorrow.

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SMARTER Goals

You may or may not have heard of SMART goals ? This framework has been around in business and coaching circles for years and has been elaborated on to incorporate two extra dimensions, taking them from SMART to SMARTER goals. Confused ? Well, if so you may be about to learn something !!

S – Specific. Make sure your goal is specific. The more specific you are the less likely you are to end up with something you don’t want. Simply thinking “I want to lose weight or tone up” is very ambiguous and non-specific. You may be better off saying I want to weigh ‘x’ amount and have a size ‘x’ waist, with ‘x’ % body fat.

M – Measureable. Unless you do this how will you know you are making progress towards your goal ? Many people are excellent at doing this in a work context but seem to forget to apply it to their own health and fitness goals. So if you wanted to lose weight then a weekly weigh in or measurement would give you the feedback you need.

A – Achievable, Action Orientated, agreed, acceptable, accountable ? Take your pick for ‘A’ but I like ACTION ORIENTATED. Thinking about your goal is great, but there comes a point when you have to get off your behind and do something about it!! A goal that is compelling, motivating you towards something and action driven will get you going.

R – Realistic.  Pretty self explanatory. Given your abilities and current resources is your ultimate goal realistic. If you believe you can reach it then you’re in with a chance, if you think it is unattainable then it may well remain that way. Goals need to stretch you and challenge you but should always be realistic.

T – Timed. Although you can adapt, change and modify your goals it is essential to give them a time frame. This gives structure and also allows for regular feedback during the process. If you want to lose 2stone over 6 months you may break the goal down into ‘Chunks’ i.e. weigh ‘x’ amount in 2 weeks, ‘x’ amount in 4 weeks and so on…

E – Ecological. This doesn’t mean your goal has to be ‘Green’ but it does mean that it has to be congruent with your beliefs and values. Ecology is interested in the wider consequences of achieving or not achieving the goal. Asking yourself the following questions may help;What will happen if you achieve your goal ?What won’t happen if you achieve your goal ?What will happen if you don’t achieve your goal ?What won’t happen if you don’t achieve your goal ?If you want to lose weight then the consequences of that may be buying a new wardrobe or investing time at the gym, time you may have spent socialising with friends for example.

R – Rewards. My favourite, and the most neglected in the SMARTER framework. Each time you reach a target or goal then anchor that good feeling by rewarding yourself (probably best not to reward yourself with food, unless of course it’s healthy). Go on treat yourself you deserve it!

Goal Setting

This is one of the fundamental tasks for anyone contemplating embarking on a new exercise regime. Get it right and you’re in with a shout of achieving what you want… get it wrong and your chances diminish drastically.When considering a new course of action having a positive, realistic and achievable goal that motivates you is a great starting point. Once you have established what you want, start to imagine the benefits of having the goal. 

Write down as many as you can; the more you have, the more irresistible the goal will become. What will acheiving the goal give you that you don’t already have ? What will you see, hear and feel like when you have the goal?

Imagining the goal as if you already have it is a great way of convincing your unconscious mind to go about getting the goal. As humans we are task- and goal-orientated so having a goal that will motivate you will eliminate the need for willpower.

If you struggle to think of any notable benefits, then you may have to ask yourself “is this course of action what I really want?” Once you have decided on your goal you need to establish where you are right now in relation to acheiving the goal. The key to obtaining any goal is feedback. How will you know you are progressing towards the goal ? If your goal is weight loss then measuring and weighing yourself is a good way of obtaining valuable feedback. If you want to improve fitness then measuring your resting HR or timing yourself will show whether you are on target.