The SMART guide to New Year's Resolutions
Geraldine Campbell, MSc
January 2, 2019
The new year has just begun and it’s that time again where we confidently proclaim what we are going to achieve during the coming 365 days. Nowhere is this more prevalent than when it comes to health and fitness.
We've either made resolutions ourselves or heard our family, friends or colleagues say, “This will be the year I finally drop that excess weight”, or “This will be the year I sort out my diet”, or “I will start going to the gym”.
However, we also know that while we start off with the best of intentions, we often fail to achieve our goals. This could be for several reasons, but the following are fairly common:
- we have no clear idea of what we want to achieve
- we do not know how to achieve our goal
- we set goals that are not realistic or attainable.
Below, we set out the SMART way to plan and achieve your 2019 health and fitness goals and explain how FitnessGenes can help you achieve your desired results.
It is not enough to simply say, “I want to lose weight”, or “I want to increase my bench press”, or “I want to start going to the gym”, or “I want to eat less meat”. These goals are vague, difficult to monitor and shed little light on how exactly to go about achieving said goals. Instead, have a specific goal in mind, whether it’s dropping 20 lbs, wanting to bench press 1.5x your body weight, committing to three gym sessions a week, or not eating meat 3 out of 7 days a week.
Goals should also be measurable so you can track and monitor your progress. Measuring weight loss or the amount you lift in a workout is easy. Measuring dietary changes or simply being more physically active require some kind of diary. The FitnessGenes dashboard makes it easier for you to track your progress and measure your results. There are also various gadgets and apps to help you monitor other fitness parameters e.g. VO2max, body fat percentage, heart rate.
Make sure your goal is attainable and realistic. We are often extremely over-optimistic in what we expect to achieve, which can set us up for disappointment. For example, if you're very overweight, it would be unrealistic to expect to get a six-pack within a few weeks. This goal would probably be more realistic over a longer time span. Accept that we're all different, have varying capabilities and have different starting points on our fitness journeys - so your goal should be tailored to you alone.
Whether your goal is lose weight, gain muscle or maintain the same healthy weight, FitnessGenes will account for your current weight, body composition, eating behaviour and levels of physical activity and accordingly set realistic but attainable workout and dietary targets. We can tell you exactly what to eat and how to train for your genetics….but you have to act on these recommendations to get any results - we are certainly not some sort of “shortcut to success!"
If you haven't done any research on your goal, you are really setting yourself up for failure. It won't be possible to set attainable and specific goals without a basic understanding of what you want to achieve. Furthermore, you need to know how you are going to achieve your goal and this requires a little learning. For example, if you want to lose 20 lbs of weight, you'll need to understand how to create and sustain a calorie deficit. In turn, this involves knowing the caloric content of the food you eat and the calories burned during different forms of exercise.
We're here to help in that process and provide a wealth of information to assist you in your health and fitness goals. FitnessGenes will also continue to research the science behind our products to make sure we are providing our customers with the most up to date and relevant information. Your results and recommendations in the Member’s Area will be updated as the science and technology evolve.
Set yourself a time limit for when you want to achieve a certain goal. Having an open-ended goal can lead to you either never starting, or investing months or even years of effort with no real achievement. While big lifestyle changes do of course take a significant amount of time and effort, splitting long-term goals into smaller (but specific, measurable and attainable) chunks makes them less daunting and more manageable.
Research suggests that 4 to 16 week periods tend to work well for fitness-related goals. This is one of the reasons why the FitnessGenes Genetic Training Systems are structured over a fixed number of weeks and not just open-ended endeavours which could go on forever.
It's good being SMART, but it's better to be SMART-ER. With two additional steps, we can get even more out of our efforts, helping us achieve our next goal or get closer to a goal we didn’t quite reach last time.
Regardless of success or failure, if we never take the time to evaluate what we've been doing, we will never learn from the things we got right or, more importantly, from our mistakes. Not assessing what you've done can lead to repeated failures, or less success in new goals. Make sure you take the time to reflect on what you've done and achieved so far.
The R in SMARTER is more often represented by the word "reflect" or "review" but we think it should mean "resilience". Resilience, the ability to bounce back from setbacks, is something we all need to keep us going, as we work towards improving ourselves and achieving our health and fitness goals.