“Free your mind and the rest will follow.”
This isn’t normally what you hear from a New Year’s Resolution post, is it?
That’s because this is real-talk and, like deciding on resolutions that can actually outlast Grandma’s holiday fruit cake, being real can make all the difference.
So, why the insightful lyrics of a 90’s R&B group when it comes to resolutions? Maybe the group was kind of onto something. Unless you’re one of those super humans who can actually eliminate bad habits at the drop of a hat, drastic resolutions, though they make us feel better, are often really hard to keep! Instead, free your mind (or simply, free yourself) from the overambitious, never-gonna-stick resolutions you feel tempted to make, and the rest will follow.
Try setting yourself up for success with a shorter, more attainable goal that provides a platform from which you can set another goal. It’s simple: say there’s a 10 foot wall. Instead of trying to scale that 10 foot wall in a single jump, build steps. The end goal is still the same: get over the 10 foot wall. This method just keeps you from throwing yourself at the wall over and over (and eventually giving up) and instead establishes a progressive plan of attack.
Man, if only there was a quick and easy acronym for remembering this type of goal...
Oh, wait! There is: SMART.
A resolution that fits these SMART criteria is more likely to be accomplished.
For example, let’s focus on the most common resolution: getting in shape - which also happens to be our area of expertise.
Current situation: You never workout! Well, sometimes you might, but it’s not intentional – like when you have to shovel the snow from your driveway or the 10 sets of stairs leading to your front door.
Bad resolution setting: I’m going to the gym every day after work in 2016!
Do you suddenly reel like an imaginary boa constrictor is wrapping around your chest? Or maybe you’re quickly doing the math in your head: that’s going to the gym 250 times in 2016, when you went a grand total of 0 times in 2015.
Probably not the best approach!
Better (SMART) resolution setting: Make it to the gym a minimum of 3 times a week for 6 weeks.
Hey, look! No scary, suffocating snake. That’s only 18 times. Anybody can do 18 trips to the gym over 6 weeks. That’s a piece of cake - ‘Ooo, did someone say cake?
So that’s an attainable goal you can stick with.
Figuring out what to do once you get there can be intimidating… And, let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: don’t be intimidated. Although some people may look it, or act it, no one was actually born in a gym. Every person there had his/her first day, too. Just like you. And there are so many options at The Alaska Club to fit what works for you, all you need to do is take that first step.
Obviously, instructors and personal trainers can help you get a handle on what workouts make the most sense for your goals. Want to know how they’ll be doing that?
Well, it’s another acronym (of course): FITTE.
Finding the right combination of these criteria is the-secret-in-the-sauce that will keep you engaged and make the most of your gym time. As a general standard, when it comes to frequency, time, and type, at a minimum, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM.org) recommends 25-minutes of strength training twice a week and 20-30 minutes of cardio three times a week.
As for intensity, continuing to push yourself gradually is definitely something to keep in mind, as is “listening” to your body. Of course, this doesn’t mean you simply stop when a workout gets hard; more so that you’re smart about it and when your body says “no more,” you listen.
And your 6-week resolution is definitely not going to happen if you get bored and are not enjoying it, so have an instructor or trainer help you develop a plan that is interesting, engaging, and challenging.
Try some new classes or exercises that would normally be outside your workout box. Trainers and instructors can help you find the right fit when you’re broadening your horizons, so check in with them. They’re good at this kind of thing - after all, it’s what they’re paid to do.
Having a workout plan based on the FITTE criteria is key, because now you know what you’re doing each time and you have something to which you can hold yourself accountable. Making it up as you go usually leads to cheating yourself out of challenging exercises and not being efficient with your workout time.
And just like that, resolutions don’t have to be scary (or suffocating) as long as they are SMART and FITTE.
The only remaining piece is simply making sure you have a good playlist ready to go, but we’re sure you can handle that part on your own, although we’d be happy to suggest a 90’s R&B song or two…
Maintaining resolutions involves motivation, accountability, and being realistic. If you feel yourself slipping in one of these areas, there’s no shame in reaching out to a friend, a trainer, or a group fitness instructor for a little support. They can help you rediscover you motivation, hold you accountable, or make sure you’re being realistic with your goals.
Learn more about our trainers at The Alaska Club at thealaskaclub.com to stay on track.
Contributor: Patrick Curtis, Director of Fitness at The Alaska Club