Physical Activity and New Year’s Resolutions

The following post is by Guelph Physiotherapist and Pokémon enthusiast Veronica Wong.

Happy new year! For some people this is a time of renewal, this is a fresh start, this is a time to look back on the past year to see what we have accomplished and to look forward to see what we would like to accomplish and experience.

Do you want to be more physically active this year? Have you set a new years resolution about this in the past? Maybe you did really well for the first two weeks and then ended up not following through.

You are not alone! Today’s blog post will be about setting goals and how to go about setting them so that you are more likely to succeed. While the examples will specifically be about physical activity, you can apply many of these principles to goals in other areas of your life as well.

Here ten tips for achieving your goals:

1. Dig deep. Figure out why it’s important to you to make this change. What do you value? How does making this change affect what you value? Remind yourself of these values whenever you feel your motivation faltering.

For Example: You value your family. By incorporating physical activity into your life, you are being a good role model for your kids so that they also grow up healthy, and so that you are more likely to be able to be around for your family longer.

2. Focus on the process, not the outcomes. Set process-oriented goals, instead of outcome-oriented. You have more control over processes than outcomes. Once you have the processes in place, it will increase your chances of achieving your desired outcomes.

For Example: If your ideal outcome is to lose weight, instead of focusing on losing weight, set a goal around the processes that would help you lose weight. For example, if you currently walk an average of 5000 steps/day, a goal might be to walk 5500 steps/day for the next month.

3. Choose something you actually enjoy doing.

For Example: If you don’t like going to the gym, you don’t have to. There are many other physical activities you could try like gardening, a Zumba class, yoga, walking, dancing, martial arts, or any sports.

4. Be realistic and honest with yourself, start small. Start with a goal that you’re 80% confident or more you could keep doing for the next month, despite any barriers that might get in the way. Don’t be afraid to start small and build up slowly so that the change is actually sustainable for you.

For Example: Only you know what’s realistic for your life. Can you park your car a bit further each time you go to the grocery store so you can get more steps in? Can you go for a 5 min walk during your lunch break? Can you take the stairs instead of the elevator?

5. Get specific. Make specific (What? Where? When? How?) and measurable (How much? How long?) monthly or biweekly goals, and set an appointment with yourself to follow-up.

For Example: “I will walk more” is not very specific or measurable. Try “I will walk 10 min/day on Mon/Wed/Fri after dinner, either inside the house if the weather is bad or outside, for the next month”

6. Stick it to an existing habit. You do the old habit anyway, so now all you have to do is add the new habit each time you do the old one.

For Example: Do you brush your teeth everyday already? You could try doing 5 push-ups after you brush your teeth each day.

7. Write it down. Don’t just think about it, write it down, put it somewhere where you can see it often and you will increase your chances of success.

For Example: Write it down on a sticky note and stick it on your fridge.

8. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers. It’s another way of committing yourself to the goal and you will feel more accountable when they ask you about how your goal is going.

For Example: Share your goal on Facebook. Text a friend. Tell your family at dinner time. Ask them to follow-up with you.

9. Plan ahead. Think about what could get in the way of achieving your goal, and think of at least two strategies to get around those barriers if/when they do come up.

For Example: What if something unexpected pops into your schedule and you’re not able to make it to the gym? Could you do a make-up day another day? Or could you do a quick work-out at home instead?

10. Just get started!

In our next post, we will be talking about what to do when you try all these tips and things still don’t pan out the way you expect because – let’s face it – life happens. How do you pick yourself up and keep going? Stay tuned!

What are your goals for this year? What strategies have you found helpful in achieving your goals in the past? Tweet us @ClearPathChiro

PS: Sometimes it can help to have a little guidance with this process. Your Guelph Physiotherapist, Veronica Wong, can help you with this. It’s not personal training – it’s working with you as a consultant to make physical activity a sustainable part of your life. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more. We’re always happy to chat.

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