By Conor McManus
The new year is fast approaching and we all most likely be reflecting on what we had achieved in 2016 and, more importantly, what we wish to achieve in 2017.
Jessica (name has been changed), a participant in one of our Operation Transformation programs (OT), has 4 kids under 10. She had never been able to lose her baby weight, but had always wanted to be healthier for her family and herself. Through the OT program however, she learned to set small and achievable goals for herself that would lead to her overarching goal of being fitter and healthier. She learned how to keep track of her diet through a food diary, gage healthy portion sizes, and ensure she ate enough vegetables. Through this process, she realized how much sugar and unhealthy calories she had been unknowingly consuming before this. She also made it a point to exercise regularly and her confidence grew as she realized she could do more and more of the exercises. In the end, Jessica managed to achieve her goal and even found unexpected benefits, such as feeling more energy throughout the day.
Like Jessica, we all want to achieve our goals in life. To achieve your goals, we must be committed and motivated. Motivation is part of our daily lives. You are motivated to eat when you feel hungry, you are motivated to sleep when you feel tired, you are motivated to work when you something needs to be done. Motivation affects our desire to achieve our goals. It refers to the intensity and direction of effort. It is what drives your behavior. However, to achieve your goals may not be fun. If you think about your goal and are filled with an inner dread, it is time to figure out your inner drive.
To assess your motivation, please ask yourself the questions:
- Do I feel in control of my decision to achieve my goal?
- Do I feel capable or achieving may goals?
Take stock of your real life situation in all aspects- social, fitness, health, work and relationships.
For example, am I already physically active? Am I under a lot of pressure at work? Nothing drains our motivation more than feeling powerless.
Or how much support have I got among friends and family to achieve my goals? When you don’t feel supported or understood about why you need to achieve this goal, you won’t feel as motivated. Social support empowers you to achieve more.
How do I feel about myself? Am I intimidated by fitness because I don’t believe I can do it? In short, if you think you can be good at something you will be more motivated to do it. You are directed by your beliefs. Oftentimes when people assume that someone has a lack of motivation, what they have is a lack of confidence.
But by getting started, as Nike said- “Just Do it”, we will surprise ourselves and we will build that confidence. When your inner confidence is high, you are less likely to get derailed along the path to goal success.
“Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself “- Franklin D. Roosevelt.
What is your goal?
First of all, write out your goals. Many studies have shown that those who put down their goals in writing can have almost 10 times the success rate compared to those who merely think about them. When writing out your goals, ensure they are specific and measurable. All too often, we make our goals too general, such as “lose weight”, run a marathon. To be successful in goal setting, make it very specific enough so that you can focus on particular aspects of that goal. For example, lose 5% body fat in 6 months, or run a 10km race in July.
“ Know where you are going you that you can get to the right place”
How will you achieve those goals?
The second step to goal setting, is planning how you will achieve success. If you fail to plan, you will plan to fail. For example, to achieve the goal of dropping 5% body fat in 6 months, you can set out the following plan:
Month 1 – Get fitter. 1st Week- Join a supportive fitness group. 4th Week- Work out for 1 hour 3 times a week.
Month 2 – Eat more vegetables. Train 3 times a week and increase workout intensity.
Month 3 – Eat less processed foods, sugary foods and drinks.
Month 4 – Replace alcohol beverages with healthier drinks. Work out 4 times a week.
Month 5 – Run a 3 km race.
Month 6 – Eat lean proteins with minimal fat and sugar.
“You will never achieve your goals until you change something you do daily”
What milestones will lead to achieving my goal?
All goals should have short-term and long-term components. You need to set milestones along the road to achieving the main goal. For example, you can have these as short-term milestones:
- Turn up to training 3 times a week.
- Get though the whole workout session without stopping.
- Run my first 3 km without stopping.
How will I know when I have achieved my goals?
Losing 5% body fat is not something you can achieve overnight. However, over time you may see these results and realize that you have finally achieved what you set out to do.
- Receiving the 10 km race medal on the completion of the race.
- Clothes becoming looser or not being able to fit anymore.
- Friends you have not seen for a while tell you have lost weight.
- Cholesterol levels have dropped.
What obstacles may get in the way?
Part of the planning process will be foreseeing problems in the road ahead. Some potential pitfalls may be:
- Work demands
- Eating at restaurants
- Peer/ social pressure
- Training on your own (lack of motivation)
How can I address each obstacle?
By anticipating these obstacles, you can also map out possible solutions to them:
- Discuss the problem with your family or friends.
- Talk to your boss / change jobs.
- Cook at home.
- Join a supportive fitness group.
- Get a personal coach.
- Take a few days break to rest to rest and recuperate/ get more sleep.
“ The harder you work the harder it is to surrender.”- Vince Lombardi
Big goals may seem daunting at first, but with a few small steps every day, everyone can achieve the fitness goals they want. Here’s to a healthier, fitter you in the new year!
1. “On Top of Your Game: Mental Skills to Maximize You Athletic Performance” by Carrie Cheadle
2. “Unbeatable Mind” by Mark Divine
3. Precision Nutrition Coaching- http://www.precisionnutrition.com/
Conor Mc Manus is a certified group personal trainer, rehab trainer, Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Coach, former military tactical fitness instructor, fitness enthusiast, and founder of Warrior Fitness & Adventure based in Penang. His passion is to help everyone get fitter for sports and life.