blog Jan 12, 2015

By now, I'm sure those that made a New Year's resolution around losing weight or improving health and fitness are knee deep in veggies and have been to the gym at least once.  Many people start off well and even continue moving forward for a few months.  However as we discovered in the last column, only around eight percent of people who make resolutions actually achieve their goals.  We all know nobody is perfect, but perhaps it's the lack of perfect  timing that sabotages success.

For a person to work towards achieving their resolution, or any goal for that matter, they need to have three things first.  There must be motivation.  One who is not motivated will not move forward, it's as simple as that.  There must be inspiration.  A person who is inspired is more likely to see themselves achieving and take steps towards their goal.  Lastly, it must be the correct timing.  Notice I said "correct" timing, not "perfect" timing?  I believe this small distinction is what has in the past, and what is still today, keeping many people from achieving their goals. 

If you made a resolution or set specific goals for 2015, you are motivated.  Perhaps your best friend wants you to participate in a 10km run with her this spring.  Maybe your 15 year old son wants to start lifting weights and you see the opportunity for some father, son time.  Or maybe your doctor has painted a grim picture for your future and has advised that immediate changes take place. Regardless, the resolve was made and the goal is set. Once the new routine is established, whether it be hitting the gym, daily walking, replacing coffee for green tea, prepping and planning home cooked meals or a combination of these, you will begin to see results. 

Enter inspiration.  At first it may be as simple as having better sleep and more energy that inspires you to press on.  Then, maybe your clothes start fitting a little better, and soon others begin to notice positive changes and start asking what you've been doing.  These little things on their own are not usually enough to keep most people going.  But combined, they are very powerful and inspire us to press on. 

Let's fast forward a few months.  So you're motivated, your inspired and you've stuck to your New Year's resolution for almost two months now. Well done!  And then life happens.  Maybe someone in the family falls ill or is injured; or a baby is born; a career change is made; a child moves back home or one leaves and goes off to college. Good or bad, the result is almost always the same - stress and anxiety build up and we tell ourselves "This just isn't the time to be doing...." or "I should have waited until next month..." and they very quickly abandon ship. 

Timing is not the whole issue here. Granted, the middle of a crisis is never the best time to begin a program, but for those that have made some progress and then had their goals interrupted, it's important to recognize that life happens to everyone.  Although we don't get to choose when these crises will occur, how we respond in these situations will either keep us moving forward to where we achieve our goals, or send us right back to where we started.  Starting over repeatedly is not only disheartening, it can have result in serious health issues.

When faced with these situations, it's best to lower expectations around progress and focus on retaining the results you have worked so hard to achieve.  Let's say you make a New Year's resolution to lose 30 pounds by June.  January starts off great, you're balancing PFCs, getting in some exercise and the weight begins to fall off.  By March you're down 18 pounds and feeling pretty good.  Then you get a call saying that your elderly mother has fallen and broken a hip.  Because you are the child that lives closest, the onus is on you to take on some of her care.  Consequently, life gets chaotic and the only thing constant about your daily routine now, is that it changes daily.

It's in these extremely stressful moments that many people simply throw in the towel thinking the timing is no longer perfect to continue working towards their goals.  Remember that eight percent of people who do make good on their resolutions?  These people still experience the same types of stress, however they acknowledge the fact that timing is rarely ever perfect and when 'life' happens to them, they go into "survival" mode.  Instead of throwing in the towel, they simply take a few minutes to assess the situation and commit to doing the bare minimum in order to retain any results they have had up to that point.

So even though your goal may have been to lose 30 pounds, it's ok to pause after 18 pounds.  When your schedule returns to normal, get back on track, adjust your timeline and focus on the last 12 pounds.

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