KOKOMO – As 2020 comes to a close and people across the world look towards 2021, many of those same people will begin to contemplate their New Year’s resolution. Losing weight, swearing less or being a better person are often discussed, but in the end, many find it difficult to see their goals through.
The question of how to keep resolutions has many answers, depending on a person’s goal, but patience and perseverance are two strategies many in the know agree on.
One of the most important processes to any goal or resolution is to break it down to smaller steps and then plot your course to those steps. Kokomo Family YMCA Director of Wellness Allysha Smith advises using S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based – goals, no matter what they hope to accomplish in the new year.
“Everybody is different, so because one person is able to lose a pound a week and the next person is only able to lose maybe half a pound every other week, it’s going to vary,” the personal trainer said, adding that goals like losing 50 pounds in two months would be unreasonable. “I think the best thing to go about is writing out your S.M.A.R.T. goals. I think if you can really sit down and think about what your S.M.A.R.T goal is … that will really help you establish a goal that you can attain reasonably.”
Megan Allen, a dietitian for Community Howard Regional Health, said goals and resolutions often fall off or flop due to being too vague or too big. Instead of these sweeping goals, Allen encouraged people to examine not just their goals but the steps to accomplish their goals, a process she calls “reverse engineering”.
For someone whose goal is to exercise more, she suggests examining what it’s going to take for that to happen. Needing a gym membership, subscribing to a streaming service, looking up workout videos on YouTube to get a library of routines to do at the gym are all parts of that goal. Once that’s sorted, deciding what time of day the gym is a possibility for someone and then examining if childcare or work schedules will need to be rearranged are things to look into. Any goal or resolution can be broken down.
“Even just having a specific, measurable goal … actually needs a lot more planning than just that,” she said. “You need to completely reverse-engineer that goal so you know exactly what that’s going to look like in your life personally.”
Allen added that she always asks people choosing to start a weight loss journey how they want to feel at the end. She said that while the number on the scale may be motivation at the beginning, sometimes it can lose its luster. She encourages people to take note of “non-scale victories” like how they feel instead of what their numerical weight is.
She also cautioned that the common “all or nothing” mindset of totally giving up certain foods being unhealthy and restrictions are common in typical fad diets. She recommends concerning yourself with the healthy foods you can add to your diet rather than telling yourself not to eat something.
“I tend to find that some of those less healthy foods just naturally work their way out, or the portions of those foods naturally become a little bit smaller, because you’re eating more foods that build you up,” Allen said. “You just naturally just don’t want those foods as much, but they’re definitely still a part of your diet, but it’s that mindset shift of ‘what can I add to my body?’ instead of just automatically going to ‘I’m trying to improve my body, what do I have to cut out?’”
Howard Community Executive Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health Matt Oliver also encourages breaking resolutions and goals into small parts. This gives everything the person does purpose, and giving actions is something Oliver cannot stress enough. Not only does this make goals more manageable, but it gives the person steps they can celebrate completing with their friends and family, which helps raise confidence.
“The more you do those small things, the more confidence you feel,” he said. The more confidence you feel, the more confidence you’ll have to go bigger, to go broader and to sustain that change.
“… [H]appiness is not the destination, happiness is in the growth and in the process. Be patient and celebrate the small stuff.”
Oliver said to make sure any resolution, for New Year’s or otherwise, are focused on purpose, break them down into small, obtainable steps, and celebrate all along the way. He stressed the importance of looking at why someone is choosing to complete a resolution and ask, “what does (the resolution) mean for you and what does it allow for you that’s different from today?”
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s reasonable not everyone who wants to choose weight loss as a resolution feels comfortable heading to the gym each week to work out. Smith said there are plenty of ways to be active while staying home. Searching YouTube for at-home workout videos is a place to start, and just trying to be active for 30 minutes a day though activities like aerobics or yoga can be helpful.
Whatever the goal, Smith said to remember results take time.
“It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be worth it in the end,” she said. “We are in a place in this world where we want instant results and, unfortunately, that’s not how this works. You have to give yourself time to achieve realistic goals.”