The key to reaching your diet and fitness goals for 2021 is based on setting realistic expectations…
New year, new resolutions, new you! But did you know it’s estimated that roughly 8% of people actually stick to the resolutions they set out each year?
And, if your resolutions are fitness and health-related, that means that failing to meet them, which is the case for a lot of people, can have serious consequences — especially given that 38.8% of the Hong Kong population aged 18–64 are classified as overweight or obese, and many don’t get sufficient exercise.
Why Goal-Setting is Important
Circle’s Digital Health Coach Team Lead Isaac Chau emphasises that goals are important so that you have a clear path. “It’s essential that you’re able to track your progress, even if it backwards, upside down or right on track,” he says. “I personally won’t let my clients continue with their training without some concrete goals to work towards. I use these goals to help motivate them when they are losing momentum or just need a proverbial kick in the butt.”
But before we can set get goals that work, Isaac says we first need to look at the main reasons why many of us fail to meet our goals:
Setting Too Many Goals
Want to lose that extra 10kg of fat and build 5kg of muscle… Aim to break your 5km personal best and achieve new bests in the gym. Sound familiar? Setting goals that are too great — or setting too many at once — is counter-productive. For example, dropping 10kg is a huge goal, especially considering that 2–3kg per month is a sustainable fat loss goal for people who are overweight; it could take over three months to meet this goal which often leads to people trying to lose weight in a much shorter period of time by under-eating. In turn, this causes them to come off their diet — and therefore miss their goals.
They Aren’t Priority
Another common reason why people tend to miss their resolutions is because they don’t make it matter to them enough. Sure, they want to lose weight, but when most people are faced with a choice between eating a piece of cake or not, they’ll choose the cake, even if they want to shed weight or get fit. Instead, we need to reassess our goals, and also make them matter much more.
The first step is to only start one new goal, or habit, at a time. Isaac suggests a simple and actionable method that anyone can start using when setting their goals is hidden in the acronym S.M.A.R.T:
- Specific: Use numbers, percentages, kilograms or kilometres — a specific goal means you can quantify it.
- Measurable: if your goal is specific, make sure you can measure it. If not then saying you want to lose 5% body fat is not going to be a measurable goal. Rather say you want to lose 3 inches from your waist, for example, as it’s more tangible.
- Achievable: As mentioned above, your goals need to be realistic. If your goal is something that is really going to stretch for you, but you know if you can achieve it, then it’s probably a good goal.
- Realistic: this goes hand-in-hand with whether your goals are achievable. Be realistic about how much time it might take to achieve certain goals. For example, something that would require you to dedicate 4 hours per day of your free time to achieve it isn’t realistic. Push yourself a little but not too much. Nothing great happens when we are too comfortable or too out of our depth.
- Timely: set a timeline. When exactly do you want to achieve your goal? There has to be an end date, otherwise it’s just a very big “someday” which likely means it will never happen.
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