“I have to leave the house in 15 minutes or I will be late for my appointment!” You tell yourself this several times before you get up, get ready and head out the door. You lock up the house, get inside your car and start driving. You head out of your community with confidence that you will be on time.
Let me ask you…Do you know where you are going before you leave your house? Do you know how to get there? Do you know how much time you need to get there? Most of the time the answer to these questions is “yes, of course!” In fact, it would be kind of ridiculous to leave the house without knowing where you are going, right? You even have the address punched into your GPS to help you get to your destination via the shortest route and you filled your gas tank the night before to assure you reach your destination without any problems. Wow, you are so prepared!
As we can see, no matter what it is you are setting out to do, you need to have a plan. Doesn’t matter if it’s making a simple trip to the grocery store or training for a marathon – each requires a plan. When it comes to your health and fitness, it is no different: you need a solid plan as well.
Health and fitness is a forever journey. Just as you have to pray for spiritual well-being everyday, you have to eat and exercise well for your physical well-being everyday!
Whether you are trying to lose weight for your general well-being or for an upcoming event, you need to have a master plan in place. So many times people will hear about a diet on a talk show or some story on social media about how some lady lost 25 pounds in two weeks, and get all excited to start a “diet” the following day. They are so motivated to replicate the results of the story they heard or read about.
One of the biggest mistakes most people make when it comes to weight loss is setting unrealistic goals with even more unrealistic time frames to reach these goals. And once they are at their deadline and not at the goal they had set for themselves, they consider themselves failing the task. They stop working towards their goals completely, and start believing that their goals are unachievable and the end result they want is humanly impossible. They give up!
This is not true! First of all, health and fitness is a forever journey. Just as you have to pray for spiritual well-being everyday, you have to eat and exercise well for your physical well-being everyday! It’s not something you do just for a while and then go back to your old habits. If you realize this, then you are on the path to a better you. Maintaining good health and wellness is an everyday commitment for life. Once you reach your goals, then you should set new goals for yourself. There is always room for improvement at any level. Health and fitness is a life long journey.
Here are 2 steps to take before you start planning:
Decide: Only you can decide if you want to make a change. Figure out what your reasons are to make this change and envision how your life would be with those changes. If the answer is better than now, then what’s stopping you? No one can control your health except you.
Commit: Make a commitment to yourself. Don’t keep putting it off, and justifying that right now isn’t a good time. Let me tell you a secret: there is never going to be “the perfect” time to start. Life happens but you need to commit as soon as possible and hold yourself accountable.
Congratulations! Now that you have decided to make a change and have committed yourself to a healthier lifestyle, start planning. Many people do not spend as much time on this stage as they should; however, I believe that this is one of the most important stages in the master plan in order to succeed in reaching your goals.
Your plan needs to include goals. You need to write down the ultimate goal (which could be to lose 40 pounds of fat), and the other goals that need to be achieved in order to get to the ultimate goal. These should include short term and long term goals. Be specific and write down as many goals as you need to. I once had a client who had 70 goals!
Once you have all your goals written down, you need to evaluate your current circumstances and come up with a deadline. To figure this out, look at how busy your life is and based on that set a realistic deadline. You will also have to do some rearranging and reprioritizing of your daily tasks. This may mean no more lunch/dinner dates with friends, or going to the gym for a workout session instead of watching a DVR’d show at the end of the day. You will have to make choices that will lead to change. If time is an issue, brush up on your time management skills and make a weekly schedule for yourself. If you have a plan, things will run smoothly! If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.
Support: It takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes a group of awesome friends and family to help you reach your fitness goals! Talk to your family members and friends and let them know that you want to make a change in your life and need their support. If you need their help in any way, ask them. They can help by babysitting while you go to the gym, or help with grocery runs or meal prep. If you are overwhelmed or confused and don’t know where to start with your fitness plan, find a coach or trainer for extra support. They will be your fitness plan GPS, guiding you in the most efficient way to your results. Find the help and support you need to reach your ultimate goal.
And finally, have fun! Don’t be worried all the time that you are not doing things correctly. Be positive! If you are following the plan, you should have nothing to worry about. It’s just a matter of time before results are seen. Have fun discovering new, healthy foods. And if things don’t go the way you anticipated, don’t get discouraged. If you end up having a slice of pizza, it’s not the end of the world – just keep moving forward. The main idea is to not ever give up. I promise that you will have bad days – you will never plan to have them but they will happen. The key is to stay consistent and motivated, and do better the following day.
Health and fitness is a life long journey. Know where you are headed before you start towards your fitness goals and prepare for the journey. Be realistic, hold yourself accountable, don’t get down if you mess up and have fun throughout the process. Make health and fitness a part of you and your life. With hard work, patience, and most importantly a plan, you can achieve your fitness goals!
Sofia Jalali, PharmD, NASM CPT