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We all make New Year’s resolutions. Those things we know we should do, and haven’t got round to in the previous year become a priority in the upcoming one. But far too many people fall short of their goals due to poor planning.

Losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution. It’s not surprising – we’re always being told how the Western world is horribly overweight, how diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are on the rise and that obesity rates are soaring.

With gyms popping up on every corner and information on various diets even more prevalent than ever, there’s a wealth of knowledge out there and no excuses for not knowing but what to do.

But most people still fail in their weight loss resolution.

The trouble is, while most people know exactly what to do, following through with it, constructing goals and sticking to a plan are all different matters. Resolutions often fail because people just don’t think them through properly before starting out.

There are two approaches to take when setting your New Year resolutions and coming up with goals, one concerns the mental aspect of goal setting and the other the physical act of following through with your promises.

Goal Setting

Goals must be clear and defined.

It’s no use simply saying “I want to lose weight.” What does that mean exactly?

Would you be happy if you looked exactly the same, but the scales said you were 20 pounds lighter? Probably not. So be specific with what you want.

If you want a leaner mid-section, then say so. If you want to fit into size 10 clothes, then that’s your goal, or if you have a specific item of clothing you want to be able to wear without looking like a balloon that’s about to burst, go for that.

It doesn’t just go for weight loss either. Strength and performance goals are just as specific – to bench press 200 pounds for 10 reps, perform 10 body-weight pullups or to sprint the 100 meters in under 13 seconds are all specific, measurable goals with a set end point – you know when you’ve achieved them.

So we know that goals need to be specific and measurable. What else?

Your goals should be achievable and realistic too. If you’re currently weighing in at 300 pounds, getting down to 150 pounds might be slightly out of reach this year. There’s no reason whatsoever why two years down the line you can’t be exactly where you want to be, gut getting to 200 pounds may be a more achievable target. Likewise for someone training for strength who currently squats 225 pounds, aiming to squat 500 pounds by the end of the year is a little over ambitious.

Finally, your goals must be time-based.

Having a goal for this time next year is great, but how do you know if you’re on track or not?

To make sure you reach your goals, you need to give them an end date, otherwise you put it off and will never get where you want to be. This leads on to the final pointer on setting mini-goals.

Mini-goals are great for keeping you on track and monitoring progress. Here’s how you might break down a large goal into several smaller ones to make it easier to reach:

Ultimate Goal (One year away) – Lose 30 pounds and have visible ab definition.
6 Months – Lose 15 pounds and fit in the jeans I bought last Summer but never managed to get into.
3 Months – Lose 7 pounds and see noticeable improvements in progress pictures.
1 Month – Stick to gym and eating plan religiously.
1 Week – Add an extra 30 second interval to each cardio session and cut calories by 350 per week.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Get Back on the Fitness Track”, By Diana Rini, Published on February 26, 2010, Accessed on December 27th, 2012, Retrieved
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  • Photo courtesy of lisaclarke by Flickr :

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