Crunching Numbers for the New Year

Tis the season for an influx of new gym memberships, 15 minute waits for the elliptical, angry regulars, confused beginners, and busy trainers cashing out. Yes, tis the season for fitness new years resolutions! While I treasure this time of year as much as I enjoyed seeing Penn State’s gym get packed right before spring break, I often see many people fail with intent to lose weight and get into shape. The epic fail lies in the goal setting. To meet your new body and most importantly, make it last, I need you to be SMART!

Let me demonstrate how to be SMART with one of the most banal resolutions there ever was: I’m going to lose weight.

Just saying you want to lose weight is a road headed straight to a cliff. How much weight would you like to lose? I recommend that people chose a pair of pants that they want to fit into instead. So looking at it like that, a specific goal looks more like this: I would like to drop from a size 10 to a size 8.

You need numbers! Weight is definitely one way to measure your fitness, but certainly not the only way. If you have the weight to lose, say, 15 pounds or more, using the term “weight loss” is completely acceptable. But I would rather see people look at body composition such as inches lost, and a body fat calculation as an indicator. I recommend before starting a program, to measure your bust, waist, and hips with that tape measure in your mom’s sewing kit.

Probably the best person to hold you accountable is a hired personal trainer. If you don’t have the extra money, find a gym buddy with a similar resolution to yours. Your spouse, coworker and your dog are ideal companions. Set regular gym dates and be supportive. If your goal is in regards to your longevity in particular, tell your doctor what your goal is and plan to make it happen before your next appointment. Think about who else besides you is going to care if you miss your workout for the day? The key is being held liable.

I would like to lose 30 pounds in 4 weeks, and I’m going to workout 6 days a week to do it. This is an unattainable goal that typically ends in burn out, defeat, and an injury. First of all, losing 30 pounds in a month is unsafe. One to two pounds per week is the standard recommendation unless you have a lot of weight to lose. Second, If you don’t exercise at all, I think it’s best to start small. For people who rarely, if ever, exercise, start with 2 days per week for the first few weeks, then progress from there. Be sure that your timeline and planning is rational.

I always tell my clients that they need to have a specific date in mind when it comes to their fitness goals. It could be a beach body for your tropical vacation; an athletic event such as a marathon, triathlon or 5k; signing up for a fitness competition; fitting into that dress for your wedding. Have a date circled on the calendar so you stay focused with a destination.

The biggest take home message here is that to make a lasting change, there are no short cuts! There is no substitute for putting in the time and doing it efficiently. If you are confused as to if your fitness goal, or any goal is SMART, don’t hesitate to e-mail me with your inquiries. I can help you get on the right track!


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