By Emily Sabbah
What makes the New Year so great? Is it the below-freezing temperatures? The post-holiday sugar crash? Or maybe it’s because now we can eat both breakfast and dinner in the dark?
I don’t think so!
The New Year represents a time for reflection, inspiration, and change. January brings with it the time to reflect on our achievements, challenges, and growth from the last year and the opportunity to make plans and goals for the future.
With all of this new year inspiration, what types of goals do we make? Research indicates that goal setting is linked to higher achievement, but what types of goals really make a difference?
When it comes to fitness goals, it can be easy to focus only on weight goals - losing fat, gaining muscle mass, or getting to a “goal weight." But our overall wellness is SO much more than a number on the scale. So what kind of fitness goals will really help us level up our whole wellness game? We have a few ideas for you!
- Functional Strength
- Flexibility, and
Shift your System
First, let's consider how we make goals.
Have you ever noticed that no matter what your goal is, you tend to be all-in for a few weeks, and then slowly fall back into old habits? That’s because over the long-term, big, sudden life changes are rarely sustainable.
But what is sustainable? Small, calculated changes. As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, explains, “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” If you want to make transformative changes, begin by making small adjustments to the systems of your life.
Start by choosing one small change that will be easy to implement. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Set out your running shoes before bed. Fill up a glass of water and bring it to your desk in the morning. Over time, the positive feelings you experience from each small success will create behavioral momentum and increased motivation for change.
So how exactly can you practice these small changes?
- Nutrition. Think about what you can add instead of what you can restrict. When in your day can you add an extra glass of water? Or what can you add to your water to make it more appealing? Could you choose one meal each day to increase your fiber intake through an extra serving of whole grains, fruits, or vegetables?
- Functional Strength. How would increased strength improve your life? Would it allow you to pick up and play with your kiddos? Help the neighbor with a move? Carry the team in your pickup basketball game? Find a muscle group and focus on safely pushing just a little bit heavier each session - either with weights (add 1-5 lbs) or in real-life applications (give your kiddo a piggy-back ride up the stairs). And remember to have adequate rest between sessions - your muscles need rebuilding time!
- Endurance. Want to be able to make it to the top of your favorite mountain? Or just keep up with the kids in their pickup soccer game? Find a small regular way to build your cardio or strength endurance. Tack on 30 seconds to the end or your run. Hold that squat for a few extra moments. Listen to your preschooler’s retelling of Frozen for the fifteenth time (mostly kidding!).
- Flexibility. You may not be working on your middle splits, but what about being able to pick something up off the ground easily? Regular stretching and increased flexibility not only feels excellent, but also decreases your risk of injury. Try setting a goal to spend 5 minutes stretching before bed, or commit to adding a warm-up or cool down stretch to your workouts. Keep it simple by yourself, or make it a party by inviting friends or family members to do a yoga video together.
- Mindfulness. It might seem small, but starting your morning with a few minutes of mindfulness can have lasting impacts on your whole day! Research indicates that regular mindfulness practice can decrease anxiety and depression, improve immune function, and increase focus. Try making a goal to download a meditation app and open it each day, or spend 2 minutes before bed sitting quietly or writing in a journal.
Whatever goals you choose this year, remember to start with small changes and regularly celebrate your consistency and improvement.
What are your non-scale fitness goals? Let’s cheer each other on!
If you have any questions or you would like to be a guest blogger, please email us at blog@liftingthedreamblog