To all the goals I’ve had before…

Hope you’re all prepared for the Holiday and are excited as well!  Our (almost) 3 year old daughter is absolutely pumped for Santa coming, while our 10 month old is teething & trying hard to walk & talk (imitating her older sister) and is generally excited about life!!

I decided that with the holiday upon us, I would talk briefly about how to avoid becoming a RESOLUTIONIST (aka a Statistic)!  What do I mean by that?  Well, every year, people fueled by excess alcohol intake make overly dramatic statements of how they will be a completely different person next year!  Usually, when health related these goals start out strong in January and by the end of January have fizzled out to nothing!  WHY?  Let’s take a quick look.

New Year Fresh StartLet’s start with a common story.

Heading into the holiday season we might start to reflect on the past year & think about the things that we would love to change heading into the New Year.  Often we might have drank a bit too much of the liquor or maybe it’s just the sugar highs from the high carb sweets that are seemingly thrust upon us at this time of year.  Either way, we reflect on things that we would like to change & then it happens, we make a proclamation for that change!

Let’s say I’ve been gaining weight/body fat & while in the midst of a sugar-high and with my head affected by a bit too much of the good stuff (cognac or vino), I am moved by the spirits (liquor in this) that I am done with an unhealthy lifestyle, so in no uncertain terms I declare in front of my family/friends, etc… I will lose X number of pounds or that I will run a marathon this coming year, etc…  The goal really doesn’t matter, but what does matter is that I’m setting myself up for failure doing this?  Why?

Well, I’ve discussed goal setting before in prior posts here and here.  But let’s look at some of the obvious things that will likely lead to this goal NOT working out.  1) All or nothing thinking; 2) Not knowing how to chunk a goal down into manageable, time-appropriate sections.  Let’s look at these a little deeper.

1) All or nothing thinking. This is a concept from Cognitive behavioral therapy (of which I am a certified therapist).  It is a type of cognitive distortion (you can see more here), that in our example means that I all or nothingwill be all in or all out on my goal’s plan.  For instance, I might know that I need to eat less higher carb foods to achieve my health goal, but I think I must eat NONE and as a result if I make one mistake or give into temptation once, even in the smallest way, I’m now off the plan & worse yet, my self-esteem & efficacy are taken down a notch, because I’m a failure at this!!!!  Obviously, this is silly & we need to be able to step back outside of ourselves to recognize that we are thinking in a distorted way!  This in and of itself can be extremely helpful!
eating_elephant2) Not knowing how to chunk the goal down.  This further contributes to all or nothing thinking, because I might know I need to lose 40 lbs to be “healthier” but I haven’t figured out how long this might take, or even if this is the best indicator to use for my goal of being healthier & as a result every week that goes by that I haven’t dropped the 40 lbs (regardless if I’m heading in that direction or not) I will think that I am failing and am a loser!  Sound harsh!  It absolutely is!  This is why we are our harshest critics!

Recently, I discussed some tips that will absolutely help you better plan & achieve your goals and avoid becoming a RESOLUTIONIST aka another Statistic with Vinnie Tortorich on the CMOH PODCAST.  You can check that out here.

The bottom line is that we need to say Goodbye to our past goals, the ones we did not achieve & move forward with carefully considered healthy lifestyle goals that we chunk down properly so that we can achieve them!

Be sure to start slow if you need to.  For instance if your goal is to go no sugar, no grains and you know this will be hard, start with dropping some of the more common staple foods you eat (i.e. breads, pastas, etc…), then over the next few weeks/months eliminate everything containing sugar and grains, therefore achieving no sugars, no grains.  By the time you get here, you might find that you no longer miss them.  Remember, that you don’t have to eliminate them forever!  It’s really important to be off them for a month or 2 to allow your body to switch from sugar burning to fat burning & your taste buds to re-upregulate to sense more sweetness in less sweet items (since there is no longer high sugar/refined starch foods coming in regularly).  These ADAPTATIONS will act to help you need and miss sugars and grains much less (like not at all)!  If there was an addiction component, consider that broken!  Which is absolutely another plus!

Here are my top 5 tips for the best Goal Achievement Strategy ever:

1) Your lifestyle goal is a behavioral goal & you must plan & record the behaviors you want to do on a regular basis.  This helps you stay on track & will help you catching yourself doing things right!  Also, it gives you positive reinforcement that you are moving towards your goals, even though other measurable outcomes often take a bit longer to respond to the changes.  See my sample behavior checklist here.

2) Be sure to plan to “put life into living” (a Vinnie-ism). Don’t get stuck in all or nothing thinking.  You have to realize that REAL change takes time, and you have to make it something you can do forever!  So definitely plan to kick your heels up once in a while.

3) Sharing your goals is fine, but avoid the overly dramatic MASSIVE OVERSTATEMENTS that many people do (i.e. I’m going to change my life starting tomorrow) & for GOD sake, don’t post it on Fbook! Accountability That’s annoying, especially if after 1 month, it disappears & no mention is made of it again!  Share it with people who can & will help you & absolutely hold you accountable!

4) Plan out your behaviors to achieve your goals – this could be slow and steady progressions towards your goal behavior (see the example above about giving up sugars & grains gradually).

5) Carefully choose your measurable outcomes to best reflect your healthy lifestyle goals (i.e. if you use weight loss, but want to become stronger, then this will be confounded by body composition changes & you’d be better off tracking your body comp changes)!

I hope you find these tips useful!

Be sure to comment with any questions/thoughts you have to contribute & feel free to contact us with your goals!  We can help hold you accountable!

We celebrate Christmas, so Merry Christmas!!!  Hope you have a great Holiday, whatever you celebrate and we look forward to giving you even more health information & motivation as well as reaching even more people in 2015!!

Have a great day!

Dan T

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