No matter where you are at currently in your health and fitness journey, it is time to look forward this spring (perhaps this is when your “new” year begins). Visualize yourself reading this column on this very day next year and create a clear picture of how you would like to feel and look. Are you 25 pounds lighter, did you make significantly healthier nutritional choices, have you improved your body composition so that your lean to fat ratio places you into the fitness or athlete category, do you feel physically stronger and less fatigued at the end of the day, have you completed a fitness event, such as a 5K or sprint triathlon, have you lowered your blood pressure—whatever the image is, set out today to make it a reality. Do not wait until May 2022—begin taking those steps today!
Take action by creating written, specific health and fitness goals for each day, beginning today, and throughout the remainder of 2021 through May 2022. Breaking down the year into 365 days, and determining exactly what you will accomplish each of those days, may enable you to stay on track for the entire year.
Below are a few tips on preparing annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. As you have read many times in this column regarding goal setting, keep the goals S.M.A.R.T.—specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
- Set this goal first. If the goal is to lose 25 pounds by this time next year, you will take that number and break it down into days/weeks/months/quarters so that it is achievable. For example, to lose 25 pounds in one year, you might set a goal of losing .5 pounds/week, which is approximately 25/26 pounds/year. This will require a 250kcal/day, 1750kcal/week, 7000kcal/month, 21,000kcal/quarter deficit. And, this is achievable by combining reduced caloric input with increased caloric output. (*Note: there are 3500kcal in a pound of fat)
- An excellent quarterly goal is to increase your frequency, intensity or duration of your workouts or change the type of workout. Choose one of these components for each quarter and modify it (i.e. add a cycling class and drop one of your running days).
- Assessment time. If the daily and weekly goals have been met, the monthly goal may as well. However, if your monthly goal is not met, then review your daily and weekly goals to make certain you have done the math correctly. Revise where needed and continue moving forward.
- How many days/week, which days/week, what program formats/week and what intensity/week all must be included (i.e., M/ F one-hour HIIT cycling class—Wednesdays – 75-minute moderate intensity circuit training; T/Th – 45-minute-high intensity muscular strength/functional training; Saturdays-one-hour recreational activity; Sundays-rest).
- Weekly menu; break it down into each meal and each day of the week. Grocery shop on the same day each week, with a list created based upon your weekly caloric input goals.
- What time, duration, intensity and format is the exercise program set for today based upon your weekly goals?
- What is the menu for today? Written menus, with the caloric and nutrient breakdown tend to create better outcomes in terms of weight loss and weight maintenance.