A few weeks ago I wrote about a better way to approach New Years Resolutions. The cliffnotes version is this: When we set long-term goals there is no sense of immediacy. We don’t feel compelled to take action NOW because, well, we have a whole year to get it done! If we set a goal to lose 40 lbs over the course of a year, the first several months are no big deal –we can always get back on track and catch up so we might as well enjoy the Mexican food and ice cream!
I suggested setting 12-week goals with 3 sets of 4-week milestones. If you haven’t checked out that post yet, do so now before you keep reading.
I think breaking your goals down into small, bite sized, more urgent pieces is a wonderful strategy but its not all that it takes. We have to take the time and effort to make sure we understand exactly why we want to achieve our goals and what’s on the line if we don’t do it. This process cannot be glossed over. When the going gets tough, this is what will either allow you to throw in the towel or push you to keep going.
You cannot merely say that you want to lose weight because you’ll look better and feel better. That’s not enough. That’s not going to keep you from grabbing a handful of M&Ms when you’re stressed out. It’s just not. Sorry. You’ve got to go deeper. If weight loss is a goal, the first thing I want you to do is establish your 12-week goal and 4-week milestones. But you aren’t done there. Then I want you to set aside 30-60 minutes and WRITE DOWN your answers to the following questions/statements:
- In what ways is being overweight painful or uncomfortable? Consider the physical and emotional implications of your weight.
- In what specific ways is my weight negatively impacting my relationships? Consider your relationships at work, with your spouse, your family, your children, etc.
- List three situations where your weight held you back from doing something you wanted to do or enjoying something to the fullest.
- How would your life improve if you achieve your weight loss goals?
- How would your relationships improve if you achieve your weight loss goals?
- What pleasure do I get from being overweight? Seriously – don’t assume the answer is “none”. Overeating or indulging MUST bring you some pleasure or you wouldn’t do it. Be honest here.
- What pleasure will you get from WORKING towards your goals?
- What are the consequences might you have to face if you do not choose to make weight loss a priority?
You have to get real about what is at stake and what thoughts or behaviors might keep you from making progress. Choose think about the pleasure you’ll get from working towards your goals instead of focusing on the pain you might endure from changing your behavior. What you think about you bring about – so carefully redirect your thoughts from anxiety, deprivation and fear to excitement, progress and challenge. Commit to this daily. Be on guard against your thoughts and use them to help propel you – do not allow them to hold you back. This is 100% in your control.
You have to do more than wish for weight loss. You have to do more than think about it. And you have to do more than have one “clean” eating day a couple times a week. If you want more, you’ll need to act and act consistently. Want to reach your 2015 weight loss goals? You’ve got to carefully choose the highest impact behaviors for you, narrow it down to the most important one or two and then get your butt to work.
But sometimes it can feel so daunting! What should I eat & when? What should I avoid? How important is exercise? What IS most important? We read dozens of different recommendations and most of them are conflicting. We become consumed by analysis paralysis. There are so many options and we don’t know which course to take. Been there, done that. Wasted lots of time along the way! If my results were measured by how much I’ve thought about weight loss, clean eating and intense exercise – oh man – I’d be the leanest, strongest woman on the planet!!!
The good news is that we are over complicating it. At the end of the day, nothing you read matters. Nobody’s recommendations about the “right way” and “wrong way” are relevant to you. The ONLY thing that matters for you is what works for YOU and what YOU will consistently do. What makes you feel great? What kinds of habits or behaviors will you actually look forward to? Which give you energy? Which make you feel strong and powerful? What will you actually DO? CONSISTENTLY!!!!
Consistently [kuh n-sis-tuh nt-lee] adverb – constantly adhering to the same principles, course, form.
Constantly. To the SAME principles. Not getting distracted by the next new thing and trying it after a few days. Please, no more dieting ADD – looking at the latest, greatest approach from some random person’s point of view and deciding “oooh! shiny thing! I’ll try that!”
This doesn’t require creating a long list of rules and, with military precision, checking them off a list each day. Here’s a simple approach to finding, and doing, what works for you.
Each morning, set aside 5 minutes. Sit down with a pen & paper and think about where your life currently is and where you want it to be. Lets say you’re currently 180 lbs but would like to get to 150. That’s the point at which you can fit into your sexy jeans and feel good about yourself. Now write down 2 things you can do today to help you move from point A to point B. Not 20 things you need to do this month. Just two things you can (and will) do today.
When I first started out on my weight loss journey they were things like:
- Pack my meals and snacks to bring to work
- Get to bed on time
- Eat vegetables with every meal
- Make sure that breakfast is fat & protein based
As I’ve progressed throughout my journey, my 2 things often include things like:
- Meditate daily
- Eat only when I’m hungry (I get tempted to eat when I’m bored or procrastinating)
- Eat more fat at breakfast (this remains super important to me)
- Journal my hunger/mood/cravings/energy
There is always something you can do to move towards your goals. You can stop worrying about the perfect plan or which set of advice is right and which is wrong. Just act. Pick something that is important to YOUR success and do it. Do it every day. Keep identifying small steps you can take towards your goal and practice, practice, practice.
I recommend keeping at least 1 of your 2 target items the same each day (until they become effortless or until they no longer produce results) so that you can make it habitual and part of your daily life.
If you feel like you’re ready to take this on – if you feel like 2015 is the year you’re going to crush your goals and get healthier than you’ve ever been – you’re EXACTLY the person I want to work with. I’m going to be working one-on-one for a FULL YEAR with only 15 individuals. We’re going to talk every single week. We’ll set goals, we’ll establish how to measure and monitor them and then we’ll adjust every single week. We’ll determine what works for you and what doesn’t. We’ll work with what you love, what you hate, what your life requires and what your major obstacles are. We won’t give up. I’ll provide education, motivation, inspiration, and, most importantly, constant, ongoing support. If you’re ready, check out all the details. I’m accepting applications for just another couple days. Get yours in now
Don’t give up. Don’t get frustrated. Just keep moving!
We often find ourselves with 5 minutes to spare. No matter how busy we are there’s always 5 minutes to check facebook or twitter, chit chat with a coworker, rummage through the kitchen for a snack or browse the internet for news.
What if, in just one of these 5-minute windows, you did something that would help transform your year and propel you towards your goals? I’m not talking about overhauling your life, going on a diet, getting to the gym or launching a new business. I’m just talking about something you can do every that in fewer than 5 minutes.
Here’s a list of little things to plug into your windows of opportunity as they arise that, if you do them daily, will make a massive difference in the quality of your year – 5 ways to improve 2015 in less than 5 minutes! If you’ve got more to add to the list, shoot me an email and let me know or leave a message in the comments!!
- Establish one goal you’d like to achieve and identify ONE THING you can do today (in less than 5 minutes) that will help you reach it. Example:
- Goal: Pay off $20,000 in debt
- Daily Brief Action: Take 5 minutes to plan out your meals for the week. Planning ahead and eating at home absolutely saves money from your food budget!!
- Write down 3 SPECIFIC things you’re grateful for. Gratitude will profoundly change your outlook but don’t be generic by always saying, “My job, my kids, my spouse”. Example:
- I am grateful that my wife prepared my favorite meal tonight
- I am grateful for my co-worker who went out of his way to help me with my project
- I am grateful that my body is strong and healthy enough to walk, run and workout!
- Get your blood pumping by doing 10 pushups, 10 body weight squats and 10 situps. No matter where you are, you can do this. You can keep repeating this circuit until 5 minutes go by or stop after one round. Remember that you physically & mentally feel better when you’re getting more blood flow to critical organs like your brain. And even a few minutes of movement releases “feel good” endorphins that will brighten your day! If you can’t do pushups on your toes, no problem. Do them on your knees. Can’t do them on your knees? I’ve been there! Do them against a wall.
- Let someone know you appreciate them and why. Imagine if you got into the habit of expressing appreciation to friends, coworkers, family members and strangers every day for a year. After a year you’d have more friends, you’d be happier and I’m quite certain you’d have many more people doing the same for you!
- Identify something you want to happen and spend 5 minutes visualizing it in detail. Think its corny? That’s ok. Research continuously proves that when we vividly imagine an event or outcome, our brain is unable to distinguish between our visualization and reality. Our brain accepts the event as true and begins working in your subconscious to bring it to fruition. The more detail the better!!
We all have these windows of opportunity. Will we continue to waste them reading about the Kardashians or will we seize them to help improve our future? This takes such little time. You can make massive improvements in your life with small actions repeated consistently. Why wouldn’t you???
It’s hard to put into words how I feel about 2014. There have been obvious highlights and low lights. I love being able to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and how I hope to improve 2015.
The first quarter was really about progress and anticipation. I was making great progress with my fat loss and was preparing to have my skin removal surgery in April. I was able to keep my head down and stay focused because I knew that was right around the corner and I wanted to be as lean as possible for that.
The second quarter was really about recovery and patience. I was healing from surgery and I was preparing to leave my job to start Primal Potential. Since I couldn’t be as active as normal, I had a lot of time to think, plan and structure how I wanted to spend my time once I left my job.
The third quarter was about transition. I went from a high-stress, non-stop corporate job to working from home on my brand new business. It took a while to find my groove. In fact, I don’t think I found it in the third quarter. I switched gyms – a big change for me – and was really working on finding a rhythm that worked for me.
The fourth quarter was where the hard work started. I realized that in order to get the to the last & final phase of my fat loss I was going to have to start doing the EMOTIONAL work. I had become really good at eating clean and working out consistently but I had hit a bit of a roadblock. Though I didn’t want to admit it, I knew that some of my emotional baggage was holding me back from reaching my true potential. I began meditating. I started taking long walks with my dog every day. I focused less on strict nutrition and more on careful observation of my thoughts and inner motivations. I’m still in this process. Though difficult, I know will be incredibly rewarding and will remove any and all artificial limits I’ve placed on myself. I’m learning a lot about myself.
- I’m learning that no matter how much weight I lose, some people still won’t accept me. I am learning that this isn’t a function of my weight, but rather of those other people.
- I am learning that weight loss doesn’t erase my weaknesses but exposes them. Fortunately, once exposed, I can begin to work on them.
- I am learning that I need to look to myself for validation, not other people.
- I am learning that shortcuts double the length of the journey and take you through some nasty places you really ought to avoid.
- I am learning to surround myself with people who want to be a part of my story and not to waste precious energy on people who don’t.
- I am learning that helping other people achieve their goals and transform their lives is the most valuable thing I can do with my time and energy.
- I am learning that I am completely in control of my outlook and my outcomes.
In 2014 I really evaluated myself based on the rate of my weight loss. Sometimes that left me feeling incredible and sometimes it left me feeling defeated. Going into the new year I really want to continue working on evaluating myself based on my consistency, effort & attitude. I want to have more fun, go on more adventures, focus as much on my mental and emotional fitness as I do on my physical fitness.
Yes, I definitely have some body composition goals and I probably always will – I think those are great goals to have! But I also have goals related to my enjoyment of life, related to my business development, related to my personal development and my attitude.
Overall, it has been an epic year for me. I quit my job and sold my house. I launched a new company and began sharing my storing with the world. I’ve written over 500 pages of education, inspiration and documentation of my journey. I’ve become leaner, stronger and most importantly – I’m leaving 2014 with a heightened sense of gratitude and hope.
All of my love & respect.
Are you thinking about New Years Resolutions? I’m actually gonna try to talk you out of it! Get this: 25% of people abandon their resolutions after just ONE WEEK!! The average person makes the same New Years Resolution 10 times WITHOUT success!!! And 60% of people give up on their resolutions by the 6 month mark.
I’m just gonna go ahead and say that statistically speaking, New Years Resolutions aren’t the best way to set goals. But screw statistics – lets look at our own behavior! I can say that I have NOT achieved the majority of my New Years Resolutions. I have incredible intentions but most of the time I fall short. What about you? Have you made them in the past? Have they worked for you?
One of the big issues I have with New Years Resolutions is the time frame. When you set a goal in January that you have a full year to achieve, there is no sense of urgency. Let’s say the goal is to lose weight. Well who cares if you screw up your diet a few dozen times in January? You know you still have the rest of the year to pull it together, right?
I think goals are SUPER important but I think we tend to make major mistakes when we put them together. Here are some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past and I think they’re pretty common:
- The time frame is too long – no sense of urgency
- We set too many goals, making it hard to focus on achieving any one (He who chases two rabbits catches neither, right?)
- We don’t hold ourselves accountable for our progress
- We aren’t specific enough
- We set them and forget them
I don’t know about you, but I love the start of a new year. I love the sense of potential and opportunity – I love the empowering feeling that I can make anything happen. I love knowing that when I look back after another year, I might have totally transformed my life, my relationships, my health, my finances and much more! Or, on the flip side, we could look back and feel frustrated that we haven’t achieved our goals and we’re at the same place we were in a year ago. No bueno. I don’t want that and I don’t want that for you. So I’ve put together a different type of goal setting paradigm that I wanted to share with you so you can set some New Years Resolutions that stick!!
- Set 12-week goals instead of 12-month goals. This automatically creates a higher sense of urgency and allows you to gauge your progress more easily.
- Break your 12-week goals down into bite size parts. I like to think of it this way: To achieve this goal in 12-weeks, this is what I’ll have to accomplish in month 1, in month 2 and in month 3.
- Create weekly targets. Break down your monthly tasks into weekly objectives.
- Every morning, establish ONE action step you will take to move your towards your weekly objective.
- Limit your focus. I recommend creating a small number of goals. Consider taking on one financial goal, one career goal, one relationship goal and one health goal. Your categories might look different but I absolutely recommend limiting your goals to 3-4 per 12-week period. And fewer is even better!!!
- Write them down. Keep them in multiple places.
- Read your goals every day. Ensure that your mind is focused on what you’re going after.
So here is an example of a 12-week goal and how you might break it down. Let’s say the goal is to lose 20 pounds in 12 weeks. I might break it down like this:
- Month one: Lose 8 lbs
- Week 1 target: Write my food intake down every day
- Week 2 target: Journal to learn which foods increase hunger/cravings
- Week 3 target: Green veggies with 2 meals
- Week 4 target: Limit processed foods to 1x/week
- Month two: Lose 6 lbs
- Week 1 target: Daily leisure walk
- Week 2 target: Limit starchy carbs to evening meal
- Week 3 target: Limit starchy carbs to evening meal
- Week 4 target: 2 HIIT workouts
- Month three: Lose 6 lbs
- Week 1 target: 10 minutes of visualization every morning
- Week 2 target: 2 weight training workouts
- Week 3 target: Protein & fat for breakfast
- Week 4 target: Whole foods only
I would write down my goal of losing 20 pounds in 12 weeks and I’d also write down my goals of losing 8, 6 and 6 pounds each month. I would monitor my progress every week by checking my weight and measurements. I think these types of goals have a MUCH higher chance of success than a goal of “I want to lose 40 pounds in 2015”.
As far as types of goals you can set for other areas of your life, I encourage you to make sure they are measurable. For example, instead of setting a goal that you want to save more money, establish how much money you want to save in 12 weeks and create weekly action steps of how you’re going to do that like eating out less often, getting a less expensive cell phone plan, selling old books & DVDs to a used book store, etc. Establish how much money you plan to save each month during the 12 weeks and create a weekly plan to make that happen.
If your goal is to improve your relationship, set a goal that defines how you’ll measure that progress. You might decide to focus for 1 month on improving communication by changing the way you respond to disagreements or spending more time sharing your thoughts & ideas with your partner. You might choose to focus on spending more time together via date nights or committing to having breakfast together 4 mornings each week. Whatever you goal is, make sure that you have measureable, incremental components so that you are able to evaluate you progress and adjust accordingly.
Here’s to making 2015 an incredible year of health, wealth and self-improvement!!!
I have these little notebooks I’ve been keeping for years now. There’s a particular brand and color I like, I buy them in bulk online and I always have one or two of them with me. I write my monthly and yearly goals in them, most days I write what I eat and which workouts I complete. I pay special attention and make note of my hunger, energy, cravings and overall mood. I really believe that these notebooks and the goals within are one of the primary reasons I was able to transform my life and not end in failure as I have in most past weight loss attempts.
As with any change you undertake in life, changing your lifestyle and adopting fat loss behaviors requires focus and discipline. For me, focus and discipline are much easier to come by when I’m working towards specific goals. While I have definitely set specific goals based on pounds lost, the majority of my goals have had nothing to do with the scale. And before I even wrote my first goal, I got really honest with myself and answered a few tough questions so I could see where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be. Here are the questions I asked myself (and my own actual answers!)
- When people describe the type of person you are, what do you want them to say? If they were to complete the sentence “Elizabeth is _______” how would you want them to fill in the blank?
Elizabeth is energetic, positive, happy, disciplined, determined, aggressive, fit and strong. She is confident, beautiful and kind.
(I wrote that in my phone and when I was struggling or having a moment of weakness I’d remind myself that I’m creating a new me. I am energetic, positive, happy, disciplined, determined, aggressive fit and strong. I am confident, beautiful and kind.)
- How will your life be different if you achieve your fat loss goals?
I wouldn’t have to hide anymore. I wouldn’t have to isolate myself and I could start enjoying the people and things in my life. That would allow me to be happy, to pursue my passions, to have more genuine & fulfilling relationships and to go on new adventures.
- What is one thing you will need to start doing to achieve those goals?
I need to make more healthy choices than unhealthy choices. I need to stop indulging in every single desire and start to retrain my taste buds to crave natural, whole foods. I need to move more. I need to face my negative emotions head on instead of running toward my crutch – food.
- Are you willing to do it?
Without a doubt. I need to. I have spent so much energy doing things that DON’T work so if I stop wasting my energy there, it probably won’t be all that much more of an investment to do something that DOES work.
- What is there to lose?
The momentary satisfaction of enjoying whatever it is I’m craving. But I need to start realizing that those foods aren’t “off limits” and I can enjoy anything in moderation. I need to start realizing that my health goals are far more important to me than momentary indulgences.
- Who can help you reach your goals and how can they help?
Aaron (my husband) can help. I’ll ask him to not keep my trigger foods (ice cream, chocolate, cookies) in the house or, if he does, to put them out of sight. Otherwise, I need to use this as an opportunity to allow myself to see how strong I am on my own. No one is putting anything into my mouth so this is all me.
After answering those questions, I challenged myself to set one goal in each of three areas: mindset, physical and nutrition. These three areas work together and are equally important when it comes to transforming your health and your life.
Mindset: I love the Marcus Aurelius quote “Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts”. For years I told myself that I was fat and no diet ever worked for me. I told myself I had no self-control when it came to food and that I was a chronic binge eater. Well you know what? All those things were true, in large part because I had convinced myself that they were! My thoughts about me and my success along this journey have a significant impact on my results. Setting small mindset goals helped to retrain my mind. Here are a few examples:
- Every day, for the next 90 days, I will remind myself of the type of person I want to be by reading my affirmations.
- I will stop avoiding the mirror and acknowledge one thing I like about myself each day
- I will stop saying that I’m fat – in my head or aloud
- I will read one mindset book each month
Physical: There is a reason I don’t call this exercise. Exercise is not the primary focus of a fat loss lifestyle journey. Yes, movement is important and exercise will eventually become a component but I certainly didn’t start there. Starting out, my goal was simply to move more. Here are a few examples so you can see that this is not related exclusively to exercise:
- I will walk on the treadmill during one TV show each evening
- I will take my dog for a 20 minute walk three mornings each week
- I will stretch for 5 minutes daily
- I will relax my body by taking a hot bath before bed at least 3 nights each week
- I will get a massage twice each month
Nutrition: 90% of my success along my fat loss journey has come from what I put into my body. I started with small, incremental changes and as they became my new normal I added more. Nutrition is the most important component and for many, myself included, it was the most challenging. However, when you commit to small, manageable changes it becomes much easier to swallow (pun intended, gotta keep it light, right?) Here are a few examples of small goals I set when I was starting out.
- I will include protein in all my meals and snacks
- I will drink a gallon of water each day
- I will have a fat loss friendly breakfast every morning
- I will limit my consumption of processed foods to one serving daily
- I won’t snack after dinner
- I won’t keep processed foods in my house
Maybe you’re ready to start working towards answering the first set of questions. Maybe those are pretty easy for you to answer and you’re ready to start working towards some specific goals. Here’s the most important thing about making these goals work for you: you MUST keep them in front of you. It’s easy to write up goals in a moment of motivation but the real challenge comes in pushing towards them every.single.day. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that this time is different and you achieve the fat loss lifestyle goals you are setting:
- Read your goals every morning. I still read mine at the start of each day and then I set two or three micro-goals for the day.
- Keep your goals in multiple places. I have them in my notebook and stored in a note in my phone. Whenever I have downtime or I’m struggling with motivation, I’ll re-visit them.
- Be honest with yourself. Don’t pretend the goals never existed after a weekend off the rails. Acknowledge that you veered of course, shake it off and keep going.
- Share your goals with a friend. I understand this is a private journey, but having someone who believes in you and encourages you is powerful.
- Realize that the only failure is giving up. Perfection is impossible so don’t even start out thinking it’s an option. You’re going to have off days. Everyone does. Don’t waste your energy beating yourself up. Every minute is an opportunity to start fresh
The possibilities are endless and you can achieve whatever goals you’re after no matter how big or small they are. Let’s push towards our goals together!!