This week’s blog is a guest post from our very own Dr. John Cybulski. Many of us struggle with weight loss, and Dr. Cybulski has some great tips on how to meet your health and fitness goals.
The cold cover of winter is starting to fall away and spring is nearly upon us. The realization that summer is just around the corner is a wonderful motivator to kick back into gear and begin a workout program. It’s never that easy though, is it? What classes should I go to? How do I lose weight? How many days do I need to workout? It’s a lot, but here are some simple ways to streamline the process and ensure you meet your goals. The caveat here is that everyone is starting from a different place. However, the system below allows for varying skills and abilities. Regardless of where you’re starting from, the most important thing is to just get started.
A different approach to setting goals. You are incredible at setting goals, in fact, you’re too good. Rather, what I mean is that you only set goals that are huge and grandiose. There is nothing wrong with winning the Ironman in Kona, but what if we started with running a 5k? If you were a Netflix junkie over the holidays, maybe start with watching a little less and moving a little more. A simple walk around the block is perfect, and you can definitely do it. That’s the big point here. If you set goals that are far too distant or ambitious without check-points along the way, you’ll get discouraged and slowly fade back into old habits.
How to break old habits. It’s a natural human quality to want validation for our endeavors. That’s why it’s a great idea to set up a system of goals with small achievable markers, allowing us to celebrate our progress and keep us motivated and moving towards our end goal. A great example that I’ve seen work for many people is the simple goal of putting on workout clothes. That’s it! That simple act goes a long way in getting us in the proper mindset to want to exercise. If even that is too daunting, make a simple goal to just get your workout clothes out of the closet and laid out on the bed. Keep breaking down your goal until it’s realistic and achievable. Then build from there.
Once you’ve set a goal, write it down so you can mentally check off that box in your head. Science says the next thing that is likely to happen is a wonderful release of dopamine and accomplishment being flushed into the system. Accomplishment itself isn’t a natural chemical, but it’s a powerful mechanism to promote change. While achieving a small goal may not be enough to make you feel fully accomplished, creating a simple flow of tiny achievable markers will inevitably steamroll into larger positive change.
The big trick is to write your goals to reinforce the progress you are making in your mind. I promise you’ve accomplished way more today than you’ll give yourself credit for, but because ‘it wasn’t on the books’ your brain says it doesn’t really count.
Planning for plateaus. Using the end of your day to write your goals down for the following day is a wonderful way to give yourself closure on the tasks you didn’t complete and a physical plan for the future. Uncertainty kills. It’s impossible to know exactly what will happen in the next weeks and months, but this is why we refine. Hopefully, a couple weeks into your program your goals are bigger than simply laying out workout clothes. Eventually, you want to roll into something more like ’45 minutes of cardio’ or ’15 minutes of cool down and stretching’. Perhaps you’re at the level of cycling 80 miles a week to start and just need to add some longer pulls on hill sprints. Regardless, the system is the same. Create small goals for the very near future and stop beating yourself up. The plateau will come, but because we are constantly evolving with our goals daily we can see the pitfalls and change lanes.
How to actually do it
- Get a pen and paper to write a 1 week goal ( Ex: Walk 5 days a week, 30 min each day)
- Write 5 actionable lead-up goals (Ex: Get walking shoes out, find podcast to listen to on walk, clear 30 minutes in your schedule, etc.)
- 3-4 days into the goal, begin to think of next week’s goal ( Walk 2 miles each day)
- Repeat until your win everything.
As I said in the beginning, systems like this are moldable to people across many walks of life. Old or young, strong or weak. Rome was not built in a day. You’ll find confusion and depressive motivation when you lack certainty, but if you are smart about it you can create a plan to help to achieve your goals. Little victories add up to huge gains.
By: Dr. John Cybulski
Original post here.