Return to Fitness 2011: Sticking to the Plan

By Rich Baudry, PT, DPT, OCS

The busy holiday season is almost over, leaving most of us a little run down and maybe even with a little extra weight.  For me, the end of the year represents a time to reflect, to make resolutions, and to start a new beginning. One of my resolutions for 2011 is to inspire and support our clients to keep their own resolutions in 2011, to really make a change. So I ask you, what are your resolutions for the new year? How do you plan to keep them? Making change is difficult. Statistics suggest that up to 80% of our resolutions FAIL within 90 days. If you usually fall off track somewhere between New Year’s Day and King Cake season, read on, and let’s make them stick!

Whether it’s to get back in shape, lose weight, stop smoking, or start running–how do you stay on track for 2011 and really keep your New Year’s resolutions?  First, let’s look at a few potential obstacles. What keeps you from sticking with your resolutions?

1.  Lack of commitment or a focused goal:

  • Am I truly ready to change?
  • Can I handle this change emotionally and psychologically?

2.  Lack of Knowledge:

  • What types of foods do I eat to support a healthy lifestyle?
  • How do I deal with my cravings and bad habits?
  • What’s the best exercise for me?
  • How do I exercise without hurting myself?

3.  Lack of Support:

  • Do I have people around me that support this process?
  • Do I have professionals to rely on and guide me through?

4.  Physical Conditions or Issues:

  • How are my medical conditions affecting my weight, my condition, my ability to exercise?
  • What are the best foods and most appropriate activities to help me look and feel better, based on my current condition?
  • What purpose do my habits serve and how can I replace them?

5.  Lack of Time:

  • Refer to obstacle 1.
  • How important is my health and wellness to me and my family?

Any of these obstacles can sabotage your efforts for change. Overcome these obstacles and you will greatly increase your chances for success. To help you, here are a few steps I rely on, that you might also want to utilize.

  1. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, Timely) goals . Write them down. Keep them visible and refer back to them often. Set interim goals that will lead you to the final goal by the end of 2011.
  2. Make a plan for success. Set some time aside to plan every day.  If daily planning isn’t a realistic goal, make it once a week. Specify the number of times you will exercise and what each session will look like.  Schedule it! If you have to cancel, reschedule it. Your health should be top priority.
  3. Log your activities. Create a log of your food intake and exercise routine.  Creating a log and keeping up with it is a great way to hold yourself accountable. You’ll be surprised what you will and won’t do if you have to write it down!
  4. Enlist support. You need the support of your family and friends to help you along the way.  Ask a friend or family member if they are willing to take on the same goals and challenges as yourself.  Having a partner is an instant motivator, especially for the competitive natured personality.
  5. Consult with professionals to lead you and to provide the best options in order to help you attain your goals, whatever they may be. You are not expected to face the challenge you’ve set for yourself alone. Statistics show that people who seek personal assistance have an 85% SUCCESS rate. Everyone can use a coach. Professionals can help you find the most efficient and effective ways to reach your goals. They can help keep you focused on your plan. Otherwise, you may be wasting a lot of time doing things that really are not beneficial to your end result.
  6. Be nice to yourself. This is probably the most important step.  It is impossible to maintain a strict program 24/7. Allow for breaks from the program or for an occasional indulgence. But make sure the breaks are short lived,  1-2 days only. Then get right back to your planned schedule.

Following these steps will provide you with a clear road to success.  In the end you will have created a healthy new habit. A lifestyle change that can carry you into 2012 and beyond! Don’t settle for status quo. GO FOR IT! You will be surprised how well you can do.