My clothes are screaming at me to go up a size after all the Christmas indulgence.
But I WON'T give in!
It’s so difficult to navigate the holidays when the focus is around candy at Halloween, feasting at Thanksgiving, and then by Christmas we’re making candy and baked goods. Even if they’re gifts for someone else, you’re licking that bowl of icing, aren’t you?
I sure was! After all, I only bake pumpkin rolls during the holidays, so it couldn't hurt to have a little...
Yes, it sucks that my clothes are uncomfortably tight right now, but I accept that I chose to indulge a bit over the holidays. That indulgence kicked in my addictive tendency to sugar and carbs. I went overboard for sure. But I’m not going to beat myself up over it, because not only is today a new day, it’s a NEW YEAR!
Ever notice how many of us enter the new year with resolutions to do better, especially after a season of holiday indulgence, less movement and schedules crammed way too full? Already feeling out of sorts, making resolutions to simply do better can intensify that feeling of being in a less than optimal state of body and mind, rather than instill hope for the change we desire.
But this year, let’s change the narrative from one of guilt to one of growth. Rather than setting resolutions for the new year, which often feels like we’re focusing on what we interpret as things we’ve done wrong, let’s focus on setting goals, which move us in a positive direction.
Let's consider two key differences between resolutions and goals as we enter 2024:
1. A resolution is a statement of what you want to change, while a goal is a statement of what you want to achieve, the steps you need to take to achieve it, and when you want to achieve it by. In other words, it’s less about the “shoulds” that we too-often berate ourselves about, and more about framing our mindset around positive, life-giving action steps.
2. Resolutions are often very broad, overarching commitments or promises we make to ourselves, while goals are specific and usually about how you want to finish through specific steps toward the goal. Sharing our goals and how we plan to get there with an accountability partner or group can give us an added layer to help us stay on track.
Let’s face it, change can be hard. It’s even harder when it feels overwhelming. For example (because weight loss is a common New Year's resolution): If someone sets a resolution to lose 40 pounds this year, but they don’t establish a plan with smaller goals, actions steps, and accountability with support and encouragement along the way, reaching the desired end result is much less likely.
Because it’s too broad. It’s too vague. It doesn’t connect with your why. It’s also focused on a negative “I’m overweight” line of thinking. While that could be true, our focus needs to shift from the negative self-image toward one of growth in a positive direction. It also helps to add the why behind wanting to lose that weight.
By setting smaller goals and establishing sustainable steps toward those goals, our momentum gains traction and we get unstuck. We can align our why with our goal. So rather than, “I should/will lose 40 pounds this year,” we instead set a smaller, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART) goal that includes the why behind it:
Because I want to lower my cholesterol and have more energy (the why), I will lose 10 pounds by March 31, 2024” (40 pounds divided into 4 quarters of the year). This is specific (10 pounds), measurable (we can get on a scale from time to time - NOT daily - to measure, and check our cholesterol with a blood test), achievable (focusing on the smaller amount vs. the larger end goal), relevant (it aligns with the long-term objectives of losing 40 pounds, lowering cholesterol and having more energy), and time-bound (the goal date of March 31).
Now that we’ve got that goal set, it’s time to set some actionable, yet small and sustainable steps, to help us get there. Some examples one might choose from in this scenario could be:
Meet with your doctor for support as it relates to your overall health and medical conditions, and to establish baseline markers. This is a highly recommended first step, because even if the scales don’t budge for a while, our cholesterol and other health markers could change significantly, indicating a shift of health in a positive direction, giving us a deeper level of measurability and motivation.
Let’s face it ladies, the scales aren’t the only, and definitely are not the best, indicator of health and wellness. We could be gaining muscle, which weighs more than the fat we’re losing. Heck, our weight can fluctuate up to five pounds in a single day, just from cellular activity, bathroom visits, hormones, and water retention!
Yes, it can be maddening, so don’t rely on the scales to be the sole marker. Also, measure how you’re doing by how you feel, physically and mentally. A properly hydrated and nourished body feels much better than a body that is sluggish and tired from not being taken care of. Plus, a healthy gut churns out more of the feel-good hormones, leading to a healthier mind. A mind properly hydrated and nourished can focus and think more clearly. You may also notice your clothes becoming looser, another measure that isn’t an unhealthy obsession with the scales or a measuring tape.
Trust me, it’s much less stressful to enjoy how you feel as a measure of progress, than to focus solely on the numbers.
Establish a healthy hydration level and a way to track how much water you’re drinking. There are several apps to help you do this, and your doctor may have recommendations. I personally love the LoseIt app, which allows me to track my health goals, water intake, nutrition, and movement. Start with adding a few more ounces each day until you’ve reached your optimum level.
Begin to make small shifts in your nutrition. Maybe make the sweet tea with stevia instead of sugar. Bake with alternative flours with less of a glycemic load. Choose rice or quinoa over potatoes and macaroni. Add an extra vegetable to a meal each day. Set out a bowl of fruit where you’d normally go for less healthy snacks. Slice some peppers to have handy and snack on them and a few baby carrots with hummus. Switch to dark chocolate and allow yourself a small piece each day. These are just a few examples of small, sustainable steps.
Move a little more each day. While your coffee is brewing, walk around the kitchen or lift a few reps with small hand weights you can keep near the coffeemaker. Fold the clothes while standing instead of sitting. If you’re on your computer a lot, consider getting a desktop converter that allows you to stand instead of always sitting (I just got one for work and I love it. Message me if interested). If you’re listening to a book on tape or podcast, walk around while listening, lift those small weights, dance or just do something. Small changes, done repeatedly with intentionality, can lead to long lasting, sustainable results.
Ask someone to be an accountability partner. Who in your life do you trust that is supportive and encouraging? Don’t be shy! You may be surprised how much they would appreciate being asked to support you in your journey toward your goal, and it could be as simple as checking in once or twice a week by text on how it’s going. If you can’t identify someone, there are some amazing groups out there which can serve this purpose. The key is to stay engaged with the group, and not just as an observer. Or, perhaps a life coach could help fill this role for you. If you’re interested in learning more about our free coaching group on Facebook, or about personal life coaching, send me a message.
These are just a few examples of the small and sustainable steps we can commit to, each building upon the other. This goal is just one example. Maybe you want to learn a new language or skill, take up an instrument, or enroll in an online class. By setting a SMART goal that aligns with the why behind the goal, and then setting forth and implementing an action plan of small, sustainable, easy to do steps that will lead to the goal you want to achieve, you are much more likely to smash that goal!
So, as we enter 2024, what’s one SMART goal you’re declaring, and what is one first step you’re taking toward that goal? Share in the comments so we can support and encourage each other.
Let’s do this!