Set yourself up for success in 2015

I do believe in New Year's resolutions.  I think the beginning of the year is a good time to reflect and start fresh.  But often we set huge goals for ourselves making it easier for ourselves to give up and fall into old habits or routines.  Our resolutions start to feel too unattainable, because, in fact, we all know change does not occur overnight.  Maybe you are still going strong with your goals, or maybe you've already talked yourself out of all the hard work ahead of you.  Either way, it isn't too late to regroup and add a couple elements to your plan of attack.  I am sharing a couple of tips I give clients and even use to keep myself on track.  Whether your goal is to lose 40 lbs, or to work on your flexibilty, or even just to be healthier, here is something for you to help you along your journey!

1) Set specific, short-term goals.  Go ahead and keep your big goal in the back of your mind.  But let's use the 40 lb weight loss as our example.  If we are being completely reasonable, it could, and should take an entire year for most people (who actually have the 40 lbs to lose in the first place) to lose this weight the right way.  There is not a whole lot of instant gratification here.  It takes time and hard work, and, most of all, changes.  So instead of focusing on the big number and the scale, set up bi-monthly, or monthly short term goals.  A good example would be to exercise 5 times a week for the entirety of January.  Keep a calendar.  Make workout dates with your friends. Focus here on the way this makes you feel, and if you are eating clean and keeping your promise to yourself, you will lose the weight, too.  This will make February easy to maintain the same momentum.  Maybe you add another element here.  Keep a food diary.  Mix up your workout routine by hitting a different class this month.  Maybe you add a day of yoga to your 5 workouts a week.  Regardless of your method, keep the goals short-term!

2) Use visualization.  I'm a big believer in this.  Your mind is so powerful, and creating positive images in your mind of feeling confident in your favorite pair of jeans or your swimsuit can make a big difference.  Maybe you close your eyes and visualize crossing a finish line in a race, climbing to the top of a mountain, holding a headstand, or loving the way your arms are toning up.  Did your legs feel strong when you were running or climbing? How did you walk when you felt confident in your body?  Was your head held high? Were you smiling?  I'm not telling you to daydream your way to success, because it all takes a lot of "doing" but you are more likely to push yourself to feel the way you envision yourself feeling when you perform these mental exercises.

3) Use the 80/20 rule.  It's hard to be perfect all the time.  We have to cut oursleves some slack.  You can use the 80/20 rule weekly, or even daily. Stay within your guidelines 80% of the time, and allow yourself 20% flexibility. Maybe I ate clean all day long and I want a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine with dinner.  I say go for it, and most nutrition experts would, too.  If you allow yourslef to indulge a tiny bit, you are less likely to fall completely off track in the long run.  If you know you have a party Friday night or a happy hour on Thursday, plan ahead.  Maybe you add some time to your workouts that week to make up for the indulgent dinner ahead, or be extra clean with your eating in the days prior.

4) Reward yourself.  Plan out a reward system to line up with your short term goals.  A massage after a vigorous month of training.  That exercise jacket you have been eyeing and now feel great about wearing!  Have you gotten into a new type of fitness?  A new pair of running or cycling shoes or a new yoga mat would be an wonderful reward, and keeps you on track until your next short term goal is reached.  Maybe a big vacation or trip could be your long term reward, but, believe me, the way you feel when you reach these milestones is the true gift to yourself.  Make this all about you!

5) Take advantage of the "New Year's" offers.  Now is a great time when studios, gyms and wellness related businesses are having deals to take advantage.  And, if you pay for something, or sign up for something with a friend, you are way more likely to follow through!  Yes, the gym fills up faster in the beginning of the year, and your yoga class is fuller, but ride it out and be the one who sticks with the program.

What are your goals for yourself this year?  I would love to hear from you and help you enjoy the process, because it really can be enjoyable!