LIFESTYLES by Ronda Gates Smart Behavior
New Years Plan.

"good anytime..."
by Ronda Gates, M. S.

  It's the best time of year for the fitness professional. Holiday doldrums have given way to the optimism of the New Year. As Americans begin sprinting down the road to wellness and health clubs and fitness classes are filled with enthusiastic participants. They step and dance and funk and stretch into a new resolve that "this time it will be different." These people are motivated. They are committed. They are optimistic. They are also afraid that their best of intentions will be followed by another relapse. After all, most of them say, "I already know what I need to do, I just haven't been able to do it."

Here are some specific techniques you can use to keep your student's spark ignited.

Goal setting is the art that makes everything else possible. It adds aim to energy, focuses effort and even structures time. Surveys show that people who plan ahead are much more successful over the long term than those who plunge in without knowing where they're going or how they'll get there. You wouldn't take a long road trip without a map so it makes good sense to have a compass (and road map) for your fitness objectives

S   = Specific Saying, "I'll go to exercise class," is not a specific goal. I have a clearer picture when I write, "Next week I will attend step class at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday."
M   = Measurable Set goals that are measurable in quality or quantity. Measuring body fat percentage, hip to waist ratio or journalling and record keeping of diet intake or workouts achieved are powerful and motivating tools to assuring a new habit becomes a long term behavior.
A   = Action Oriented If you created a map to go from Portland, OR to Portland, MA you would set a course. Then you need to take action. A SMART GOAL is active. If your goal has already been specific (I will lose 4 pounds) and measurable (in the next 4 months) the A or ACTION part of the goal is how you will do this: When, at the end of this article, you have an opportunity to write your goals, keep this need for action in mind.
R   = Realistic Goals should reflective of your values and compatible with your lifestyle. If not they can be the source of distress . Long term success depends in part on your ability to customize your activities to find the right fit for you. For example, If you don't enjoy working out with others it's unrealistic to join an aerobic exercise class. Instead, make plans for an individual workout that nurtures you then, if necessary, report to a friend or colleague who is willing to help you monitor your progress.
T   = Timely It's not smart to plan too many changes at once-it's too threatening to your internal sense of balance. Be certain you can identify the other areas of your life that might be stressful and prevent you from "doing what you want to do". For example, although a workout can be an important stress reducer if it makes your schedule more unmanageable you may have to postpone a new weight training program or class until it's more in keeping with a balanced lifestyle.


One of the most important rules of goal setting is to put them in writing. Written goals are a tangible sign of a promise that you intend to keep. They can remind you of that promise when time is short and other priorities press in. They will also help you track your progress, make your accomplishments more obvious and help you identify problem areas that need more attention. Sadly, only 5% of Americans write down goals and objectives, but 95% of those who do succeed. (A survey of Fortune 500 executives indicates that they may be successful because they write down their goals and objectives.)


Some of us can be the lone ranger, but most people need coaches, cheerleaders and people who believe in us and will remind and support us of our commitment to change. When you take responsibility for yourself and make change even the most beloved friends and family members may feel you are imposing on them. The friendship and support of others will make it easier for you pass through the sometimes difficult transition from old to new behaviors. Identify the people who will nurture you and help you maintain your well-being, as well as those (even your loved ones) who don't see your point of view. It will help you maintain your commitment even during periods of stress.


Remember that lack of time is the most frequently mentioned reason for discontinuing a fitness program. Life is filled with surprises so include strategies that assure you will make time for keeping maintaining your commitment.


Affirmations are powerful. Many people find that repeating certain sayings to themselves helps them accept things and are-programming the sub-conscious to new beliefs. Affirmations should be positive such as "I am," "I have" as opposed to "I would like" or "I will try" Remind yourself daily, "I am a healthy person making changes in my lifestyle so I can live in the most healthy way."


Set up a reward system so you can receive a treat for changed behaviors. Each of us have different values for measuring success so be sure to structure yours to satisfy you, not others. Your reward should make you hum from head to toe! Good examples include extra time for yourself with a favorite book, a manicure or pedicure, a trip with a special friend or relative or a class or lecture or play that stimulates your mind. Avoid rewards related to food and drink that may be sabotaging in the long run.

Negotiating the path to new behaviors can be fulfilling and rewarding if we can hang in there for the weeks to months necessary to make new behaviors lifestyle habits. Then, next New Year you can actualize new potentials .


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LIFESTYLES by Ronda Gates
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