With the New Year upon us, it is not uncommon to feel compelled to make some changes.
I get it. A new year means a new opportunity for reflection, introspection, and the chance to become better versions of ourselves. While regular reflection throughout the year is optimal, a new year brings an opportunity for performing this skill at a greater magnitude. I love this time of year for that reason!
When making resolutions and setting goals, we often get caught up in the results, the ultimate end-goal. We get so focused that we forget the steps it takes to get there. We become consumed by the results, ignoring the small wins, like simply just taking action. This is one of the reasons many people fail to reach their goals.
Once the motivation of chasing the goal or results runs out, most people give up. We completely forget to celebrate small wins and taking action, unless that has directly led to the results we want.
When 2017 rolled around, I wanted to tackle this issue, so I tried something different with my goal-setting. Instead of falling for the typical resolutions surrounding weight loss, I dug a little deeper. I reflected on what change could have the greatest impact on my life and what goal would help hold me accountable, even when I’m wasn’t motivated. This was going to be the key for sticking with it.
At the time, I was at the tail end of physical therapy school. Thanks to the my erratic school schedule, sleepless nights, and countless other factors that physical therapy school entails, I was not consistent with my training. And it was showing up in my overall health. I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t sleeping well. I wasn’t feeling confident. I had low energy. But I was ready to get my life back.
HOWEVER instead of jumping to the conclusion that losing weight would take care of it, I took an entirely different route. I reflected on how I was feeling vs. how I wanted to feel. I realized that most of my issues would resolve or improve with exercise. I was training at the time, just not consistently and not enough. So I made a goal of consistency, and it was the best thing I could have done for myself. It has even become my most recommended theme for goal-setting.
The goal: “I will get 3 training sessions in per week, for the next 3 months.”
1.) Because consistency was my biggest weakness when it came to training.
When setting goals, it’s important to choose the factor that will give you the best ROI (Return On Investment) for your time and effort. Upon reflection, I realized my biggest issue that would provide the best ROI was consistency.
For most people, consistency is one of the biggest barriers for seeing results. When we’re first starting out with exercise, just about anything will work. As long as you’re consistent and you give it enough time.
At this time last year, I was sometimes making it to the gym 4 times/week and some weeks not at all.
I knew this lack of consistency was the root problem. You just can’t expect to reap the benefits of training without actually training consistently.
As I mentioned, anything will work at first. IF we are consistent AND give it enough time. Both of those factors are important. You must be CONSISTENT and PATIENT. This is why my initial goal was for 3 months. Short enough that it wasn’t a marathon, but long enough to actually see and feel the benefits of training.
2.) Because I was tired of feeling like my body needed to be changed.
I was tired of thinking my body was flawed. I was tired of spending energy picking apart things on my body that I hated. I was tired of telling myself I would be happier if I could just lose the weight. I was tired of using training as a tool to change things I didn’t like about myself. It made me resent training. It wasn’t productive thinking, and it wasn’t helping me achieve anything.
I had been at war with my body for 24+ years, and it had worn me out. I had enough.
I hoped that by making a goal based on consistency and taking the focus off my body would help relieve me of the pressure I felt to look a particular way. I was ready to train for something other than trying to change how my body looks. I decided that 2017 was the year that I was going to train to change how I felt. I wanted to feel strong, have more confidence, improve my mood, and get my energy back. I made a pact to reclaim all the energy I usually spent trying to morph myself into some idea of a perfect body that I thought existed and put it into something productive.
THE RESULTS WERE MAGICAL.
For the first time ever, I stuck to my goal the entire year! Training for consistency meant getting my training sessions in no matter what. This forced me to plan more and get creative at times. I did sessions on the beach during vacation, on the deck of our rental home, in the kitchen at my parent’s lakehouse, in the middle of my living room, and even outside or at the dog park. It didn’t matter where I was or what equipment I had access to, I just made sure to get something in at least 3 times every single week.
I began the process of actually mending my relationship with my body. Instead of resenting it, I made peace with it. I stopped comparing it to everyone else’s. I wore what I wanted, without regard to how my body looked.
For the first time in 25 years, I actually appreciated the body I had.
It was magical, unexpected, and refreshing.
I learned how to celebrate what my body could DO instead of what it LOOKS LIKE. I got stronger. I gained confidence. I did things I never thought were possible, and it felt AMAZING:
I deadlifted 285 lbs!
I did a weighted pull-up!
I did a Turkish Getup with a 70# kettlebell!
Finally, as the year progressed and I kept meeting my goals for consistency, my body started changing. I was putting on muscle and dropping fat. I was no longer putting my energy and focus into this, it was just a side effect of consistency. I actually loved seeing my muscles show up. In fact, I loved it so much that I started focusing my training more towards building muscle. And it was fun! I even dabbled in some BFR (blood flow restriction training)- something completely outside my original comfort zone.
At the start of last year (bottom right photo on both), I weighed 145 lbs. Currently (top left photo on both), I weigh 132 lbs. I did not change my eating habits (I already had been eating pretty healthy). I drank wine most nights of the week. I didn’t count calories. I didn’t weigh myself consistently (try hardly ever actually because I didn’t care and it wasn’t my goal). I just trained consistently and gave my body a break. I stopped picking apart my body. I used my newfound energy to start helping people. I even started this blog and online business!
So as you are goal-setting or creating resolutions for 2018, consider approaching it from a new angle. Dig deep and think about what you really want to improve in your life. New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be centered around changing your body, getting a 6-pack, or getting fit.
Also, consider including a goal centered around consistency. Whether you want better health, to drop some weight, to get strong, to improve your confidence, or any other benefit that occurs from training, you must be consistent. You will not reach any goal without consistency. Getting into the gym, cooking your meals at home consistently, performing an act of self-care every single day, or anything between will all require some degree of putting in effort regularly.
So this year, think about making consistency your goal, your focus. And watch the magic happen.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!