Action paralysis often comes about when we hold ourselves to unnecessarily high expectations and begin to fear one step in the wrong direction.
So if you’ve been struggling with getting back to your fitness or nutrition goals, it may be that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. This is very common in the wellness world where there is an unfortunate emphasis on perfection.
It’s true that motivation to get moving often comes from big goals but it’s equally true that small goals are more likely to keep us moving.
As a personal trainer and nutrition specialist, I know that every client will face a moment in life (or a few moments) in which they veer off track. Sometimes it’s because of the holidays. Sometimes it’s because of an unexpected lifestyle change (new job, new relationship, etc.) Other times it’s just because life gets busy and wellness tends to take a backseat to other priorities. Whatever the reason for your wellness lapse, you can get healthy again without any drastic first steps.
Try these three easy steps to instantly restart your wellness journey without feeling overwhelmed:
1. Make maxi wellness goals that are realistic
One of the best fitness sayings I’ve ever heard goes like this, “You didn’t get out of shape overnight, you’re not going to get back in shape overnight.” We need patience to realize change.
Give your maxi (big) goals a realistic timeline. For example, if you want to run a marathon and you’re not even jogging yet, you’ll want to take at least 6 months to condition your body. Similarly, if you want to drop 20 lbs, aim to do it over months, not weeks. A great tactic is to multiply however long you think it will take to achieve your maxi goal by four. That might seem disheartening but it actually makes the journey so much more enjoyable for you and, most importantly, it makes the results more likely to stick.
Avoid falling in the trap of quick one-week programs, detoxes or any other quick fixes. Unrealistic timelines will set you up for unsustainable results and eventual disappointment.
2. But start with small goals
To help you achieve those maxi goals, pick a few mini goals with timelines that will help you get there. Maxi goals are great to inspire you to get back into fitness but it’s the small steps along the way that will actually get you there.
I always have new clients start with 30 minutes of bodyweight training sessions before I ever progress them to the weights. For two weeks, they focus on building a fitness foundation. After two weeks, we gradually start to add greater intensity and challenges. During these sessions, I give them mini goals to start on their larger ones. For example, if a client would like to do a push-up, we start with holding a 30 second plank on the knees. This is because sustainable progression (results that actually stick) only comes from gradual, small steps. No matter what exercise I have planned, I always offer a modification that they can do 100% perfectly. Those modifications are stepping stones to bigger and better things!
Similarly, if you’ve taken a significant time off from training or healthy eating, start with small goals to get you back into healthy habits. Make those maxi goals to inspire you but also be sure to include small “modifications” to help you along the way!
3. And then share your goals!
Accountability is the greatest determinant of success or failure when it comes to wellness goals. While accountability to yourself is important, accountability to another person is essential. Share your fitness goals with someone whose feedback and opinion you respect. Tell them your goal timeline and explain how you will reach each goal. Ask them if you can check back in with them at certain milestones to report your progress.
The reality is that we don’t like to disappoint others. We’re more likely to perform an action if we’ve shared it with them and made our expectations transform into their expectations of us.
I always ask my clients to give me their top three wellness goals for out time working together and once we complete a program. At the end of the program I’ll let them know that I’ll be checking in on them again in four weeks. Without fail, 90% of those clients who agreed to an accountability and shared their goals with me, reach those goals.
Therefore, if you’re struggling to get back to fit, making goals might not be enough motivation. Perhaps, you have to share these goals with other people. Share what you want to achieve and how you will do it with a friend, colleague, group or coach. By sharing, you elevate your goals to missions.
What will your maxi goals be? What smaller ones will you use to measure your progress? Who will you share these goals with and when?