If you are anything like me you are probably sick of seeing people posting their New Year Resolutions about how this is going to be the year that I lose weight or this year I am going to start going to the gym etc... I wish all of these people success but just like the throngs of people who will be rushing to the gym over the next few weeks meaning I struggle to get a spot in my favourite cycling classes, they just won't maintain it. Why? I have some theories.
The start of a new year gives us the promise of a fresh start. Maybe it is because most of us eat and drink too much over the festive season and we feel the need to do something about it. We start the year ready to do things differently to the last 12, 24, 48 or however many months that have come before. So people feel the need to make big declarative statements like 'I will lose weight' or 'I will get in shape'. Yes, these are great goals but they are vague, unspecific and unlikely to provide the motivation to actually achieve them. As anyone who has ever taken any sort of goal setting class will tell you goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. When I start with new clients and ask what they want to achieve I tell them to be as specific as possible. It gives them something to work towards, a line in the sand. But I still do not believe that setting a SMART goal is enough to achieve it.
If you have read some of my there blogs or ever spoken to me about weight loss you will know that I believe when you set a weight loss target you need to find a better reason for it than just losing weight. Whether it is because you are worried about your cholesterol or high blood pressure or to find love or improve sports performance, having a bigger reason for your weight loss will provide you with the motivation day in and day out for the rest of your life to keep working towards it. Now you may have noticed that I said 'the rest of your life'. The other reason why a bigger purpose is needed is because losing weight or getting active requires a massive lifestyle change for the rest of your life. A PT I know and respect a lot called Andrew Read who loves a good rant posted about all of these 12 week weight loss programmes or summer body programs and how they will ultimately lead to failure. I completely agree and it is why I say you need that bigger purpose. If you set out to lose 10kgs you may well succeed. But then what? Once you have hit your target you will probably slip back into the same unhealthy habits that got you into the situation where you wanted to lose 10kgs in the first place.
If you accept that the road to long term successful weight loss is by finding purpose and motivation from a reason beyond simply losing the weight and realising that you will not be able to continue with the lifestyle that you live currently you will, I believe, be more successful at reaching your goals and instead of being one of the people who pisses me off at the gym for the first 5 weeks of every new year, you might be the person who I start to talk to every week during our Wednesday RPM class... Who knows, in 12 months you could be writing your own weight loss blog and you will probably be giving the same advice I am now.
Losing weight is not easy. Changing to a healthy, active life is not easy. If it was there would be no fat, obese or unhealthy people. However just because it is hard doesn't mean that it is impossible. You need to accept responsibility and get on with it. If you need help then don't be afraid to ask. There is nothing wrong with admitting to your weaknesses and doing something to fix them. BUT, remember that at the end of the day it is on you. You will be the one who has to say no to that slice of cake no matter how much you want it. You will be the one who has to get up an hour early or give up your lunch break to go to the gym. But with some good goals and the right help and information and support there is no reason why every person who sets appropriate weight loss goals can not be successful...
As for me my goals for 2015 are very specific to my racing. I want to go sub 4:30 which I failed to last year but I also want to go faster than that. I will wait to see how long it takes for me to hit the first magic number before I set a new time. I also want to qualify for the 2016 World Championships. A non-performance goal I have this year is to help more people on their weight loss journey. So keep reading and please keep me accountable!
Good Luck, have a successful year and remember to TRI!