Goal Setting: It’s the Little Things

Part I. I’ve held back writing because I didn’t get that “aha” moment of a topic that propels me into creating a post. As a result, over three weeks went by! Truth is, I was just feeling a bit sorry for myself for not sticking to some of the goals I had set for myself.

Enough with that, however. Two things have happened. Taking a page from a great book called the War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield, I was giving into resistance. I won’t go into detail about the why (let’s just say self-doubt played a role) so instead I’ll share the outcome.

free pixababy weights-958749_1920First, when the New Year rolled around I thought about writing about goals and goal setting. I have one big goal for the new year and I thought about whether I should write about it in my blog. What if I fail to achieve it, what kind of fitness expert am I? I had to get over it. Instead, I can offer inspiration, motivation, and advice from trial and error. So I’ll state it simply, my goal is to lose 8 pounds. It’s the weight that I’ve put on in the last 18 months. This is the most I’ve weighed in a decade! For someone who is just over 5’3″ tall, it makes a difference and I am not ready to jump up a pants size. In prior posts, I’ve written about body image and how hard it can be since my personal trainer and competitive bodybuilding days – when now, I no longer have the lean, shredded body from either working on my feet in a gym all day or being a strict diet for competition. Now I spend a lot more time sitting for work and I have to figure out a way to be happy and comfortable in a new, more realistic body. So with that said, I’ve given myself a goal of five months to lose the weight and I’ll be writing about it here. Slow and steady I say, so I give myself plenty of time for my body and habits to adjust to a new weight that I can maintain with general ease.

How much should i eat
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At first, I was convinced there was something wrong with me physically so I went to see my general practitioner and gynecologist to get myself checked out. So far, I’ve ruled out any thyroid issues (a hypo thyroid slows down your metabolism) and it’s not related to any female hormones going amuck (meaning estrogen and progesterone levels are just fine). OK, what else could it be…I know that stress played somewhat of a role last fall but not that much, and let’s not count out the nesting I’ve done from living with my boyfriend for the past year. I’ve seen a nutritionist, written down my food, learned I was eating too much fat in the shape of hidden oils for grilled veggies, salad dressing, and especially from nuts I was happily eating by the handful instead of carbs. I don’t have a very big sweet tooth and sugar, especially refined sugar, is not the culprit. I’ll tell you what the culprit is – it’s portion size, eating out, and not moving my body enough! So it will be interesting to share with you the changes that I make and the things that I try over the next few months. Next week I see an integrative nutritionist for the first time. I am interested to find out what strategies and eating suggestions she will have for me.

KA SMART letters

This leads me to the second thing I’d like to share with you. For years, I’ve coached clients, and now colleagues, on the best way to set goals (and something many of the books on happiness ask you to do). First make them S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Where a lot of us get lost is in the action plan we create to achieve them. I typically focus on three things you can do toward achieving that goal. So it made me think about my own goal and what were the three things I can do. For me it’s incrementally increasing my cardio sessions, getting back on a consistent strength training program, and eating cleaner while watching my portion sizes. Now that was set, how do we translate that into actually doing them. That’s when I realized it really is all about the little things. It’s the micro decisions that we make on a daily, hourly, and even minute-by-minute level. It’s made me hyper aware of the decisions I am making toward sticking to my action plan and paying attention to why or why I am not doing them. By becoming mindful of these micro decisions, I set off a new awareness tactic that I can use toward my benefit (and to get my ass moving toward taking positive actions instead of ones that sabotage myself). For example, for weeks before New Year’s I’d have an idea of a workout plan at work (with a state-of the -art fitness center that I manage) so I have access (and no excuse) to use it. But when the time rolled around for my scheduled workout, I would talk myself out of it (resistance winning the battle here). I simply gave in. Since the new year began, when I felt that same resistance building up, this time I paid attention right at that very moment to analyze why I was ready to give up – again. Just this moment of awareness helped me to overcome the resistance and get my ass downstairs to the fitness center. It was a small, but a big victory no less. Best of all, I’ve been able to workout pain free from past injuries that had really held me back. I also ordered a great new book on weight training for inspiration, the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises.

free pixabay lightbulb focus-2244304_1920Now to Part II.  I did have that big “aha” moment that propelled me to get excited about writing a new blog post. Again, it goes back to the little things. I am due to re certify by Spinning certification that expires in February. Although I am not teaching a regular class, it’s important to me that I stay in the game and be ready to jump on a bike to sub at any time. I was looking to take the Schwinn indoor cycling certification (I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback) but they didn’t have any trainings nearby for months). So back to Spinning it was. I am really fortunate in that work pays for my fitness re-certifications (a certification for Spin needs to be renewed every two years and there is a cost attached to it). I signed up for three courses for my Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) with three online courses. So far, two down and one to go. When I complete the second course last week, I was completely energized. I realized not only how much I love learning new things, but how much I already knew! I indeed am a fitness expert (despite my own personal struggles I was having). It took one little thing like taking an online course for that lightbulb to shine brightly.

This brings me back to goal setting. First, it’s important not to set too many goals. This can set you up for failure right off the bat. Second, it’s really important to set goals that really matter, ones that you feel invested in, to know the why behind the goal. Third, create a simple action plan. I suggest three actions that are easy wins. Lastly, and most importantly, pay attention to the little things – those micro-decisions you make on a daily, hourly, and even a minute-by-minute basis. Hit the pause button when you feel resistance rise up and return to the “why” of your goal. For a lot of us, this is uncharted territory. Play the “what if?” game. What if I actually did the thing from my action plan – even if it’s just this time? What if I actually do it? Now, doing just doing that one thing would be something spectacular, something that I didn’t do before. Celebrate that little victory like you’ve just won the lottery. You did it, you made that first shift toward your goal. Play the same game over and over and over again. Just like working out, the more you flex that muscle, the stronger it becomes. It’s all about the little things.

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