Set goals and enact the plans

By Denise DuBois 

Welcome to 2018 and “New Year, new me” social media posts. I’m so excited for people who are putting work into improving themselves. Kudos to you and good luck. I read earlier that only eight percent of people actually succeed in making their New Year resolutions a reality. Eight percent isn’t a lot at all. Is it because our resolutions look more like an impossible laundry list of items that we really don’t care anything about?

• Stop smoking

• Stop drinking

• Lose 20 pounds

• Exercise

• Eat healthy

• Learn a skill 

• Spend time with family and friends

These are just a few of the most popular resolutions every year according to a Google search.

Sure, these are awesome things that we should care about, but a general resolution that isn’t measurable doesn’t do any good. Besides, if you’re serious about not smoking or drinking, please don’t wait for a new year to roll around. Stop now because those habits are so bad for you.

Losing weight, exercising and eating healthy are fine, but you’ve got to get specific. Do you have a plan in place to lose weight? Is there a weekly goal? Are you meal prepping in order to eat better so that you will actually lose weight? When you talk about exercising, is it a general moving about of the body or are you focused on finding an exercise that you actually like? When I think of the general term “exercise,” all I can picture is a row of cardio machines and people running on them. That’s all well and good, but if you hate running, that “exercise” is only going to last until Valentine’s Day. The same is true for eating healthy. You don’t have to stick to salads. In fact, a lot of fast food salads aren’t healthy at all. Some salads have little nutritional value in them and unless you’re adding meat, they have very little protein.

Learning a skill would be cool. Are you making time in your day for it? Have you even narrowed down what “it” is? I’d like to learn Russian, but I’m certainly not making time for it. As for spending time with friends and family, you’re probably already doing that because being around people is awesome.

Last year, I had to actively change the way I thought about resolutions. Now, they’re goals. And they’re concrete things I can quantify. For instance, the first of last year, I was just getting into lifting heavy weights in the gym and focusing on squats, deadlifts and bench press. I knew what my current maxes were and I made it a goal to increase those weights. I was green in the sport so I wasn’t sure what my goals should be because I had no idea what I was really doing (my trainer did, thankfully).

This year, my goal is to deadlift 405 pounds, squat 315 pounds and bench press 160 pounds. Those are all achievable because I have a weekly plan in place that I’ve already followed successfully the previous year. It’s just a matter of getting stronger with time and work. Finding an exercise you enjoy is key. If you hate running, please don’t think that’s the only exercise you can do in order to lose weight. Lift some iron or take a kick boxing class. There is so much fun to be had in moving your body to simply limit yourself to running. If you love running, do it!

The thing about making a resolution to better your body is that you have to know where you are and where you want to go. Food is important. I realized after tracking my food intake that the reason my body wasn’t performing at optimum level is because I consume maybe a quarter of the protein that I should be. If you’re used to eating fast food, making a resolution to “eat better” is only gong to work if you’ve researched quick, easy, freezable meals, planned a time during the week to meal prep for the week and gotten the proper food storage to make it all work. Oh, and you need to actually enjoy eating the food you’re preparing. That’s huge.

For me, the more fast food I eat, the more my body craves it. But when I eat good food like grilled chicken, veggies and good carbs, I crave more of those things. If I’m not eating cookies or sugary foods, I don’t even want them. So cutting those things back gradually offers more chance of success in your plan to “eat better.”

Rather than making a resolution to spend more time with friends and family, I’ve made it a goal to take a few minutes each day (or an hour once a week) to send texts or write letters (yes, actual hand-written letters) to friends I don’t always get to see. I have a small group of friends who get together every Sunday for lunch and fun, but there are more friends out there who have husbands and children to care for, and we don’t get to see each other on a weekly basis.

I don’t want to just keep up with them on social media. I’d like to check in and let them know I’m thinking about them and praying for them. I have a friend at church who sends cards and text messages to people regularly and asks how things are going on a regular basis. I want to be like that. But I can’t just say I want to do it. I have to put it into action. My goal therefore is an hour a week to send out cards and a few minutes each day to check in with a different person.

So there you have it – not resolutions, but goals and setting them in place. If you want to be better, don’t wait for a new year. Develop better habits today and do it gradually so you have a better chance of sticking with things. And keep us posted. Let us know what your goals are and how you’re progressing through them. I’ll certainly keep you posted occasionally on how the race to 405 is going.

Have a happy new year and good luck.

Email me at ddubois@citizenea.com and watch for extra weekly columns and more at 

www.citizenofeastalabama.com.