Many people become mentally overwhelmed striving to achieve their overarching macro-goals. For instance, the thought of losing 50 pounds can seem somewhat daunting, but when you break it down into micro-goals (5 or 10 pounds at a time) it seems attainable. Plus this type of goal setting allows you to celebrate the small victories. Maybe after the first 10 pounds, you treat yourself to a massage and after 20 pounds you cheer with a new dress. This builds momentum and keeps you motivated until you reach your ultimate goal.
Take the hot new fad diet craze. Let’s go with paleo or simply transitioning into a whole foods diet. If you’re someone that lives on sugar and junk food (and hasn’t even looked at a vegetable besides an iceberg lettuce salad in ages) this is going to be a difficult feat for you to stick with for an extended period of time going cold turkey. Your body will experience unpleasant detoxification symptoms, such as sugar withdrawal, headaches, skin irritations, etc. You may also have trouble adjusting to the healthy amount of fiber in your new diet. All of these unpleasant symptoms and the new difficulties in eating out, cooking, etc. may discourage you from continuing on your path toward renewed wellness and weight loss. Therefore, you need to transition in small increments by setting micro-goals.
Slowly crowd out the junk by striving to eat 4-5 servings of vegetables a day and 2-3 servings of fruit. Focus on this for the first two weeks as a micro-goal. This is the only thing you need to change diet wise. Greens are amazing for youthful skin, weight management, immunity and natural detoxification, while colorful vegetables and fruits contain powerful antioxidants that protect against cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Committing to a green smoothie for breakfast each morning is a great way to get some fruit and vegetable servings in first thing.
Weeks three to four: focus on keeping up with your fruit and vegetable intake and adding a healthy protein source (grass-fed meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and dairy) at every meal and snack, which will keep your energy up and metabolism humming throughout the day.
Weeks five and six: keep up with your first two micro-goals and now eliminate all white flour products and sugar, empty calories that affect your health, immunity, and pack on the unwanted pounds.
The weeks beyond you may opt to set more micro-goals and eliminate grains (or you may find that full paleo is not for you) but you’re giving your body and mind time to adjust to the new dietary changes, as well as celebrating small victories along the way.
The same idea applies to the beginning of getting back into your new fitness routine. If you haven’t worked out in months and you decide to go to a Cross-fit class 5 days a week, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Your body needs time to physically adjust or you may injure yourself. Not to mention that you will mentally burn yourself out trying to do too much at once. Thus, break it up into small increments. Maybe you start with walking three to four days a week and you build up your time each week until you reach 60 minutes. Or you commit to going to Crossfit once the first week and build up to more days as your body adjusts. The point is developing an exercise routine for the New Year will help with weight loss, heart health and add years and quality to your life.
The best way to work on micro goals for your diet and exercise routine is by creating micro-goals in increments that work for you. Maybe it’s a week, two weeks, one month or 21 days (studies suggest it takes this long to form a habit). Take out your smartphone calendar and schedule in what you want to achieve in each increment and create a reward for yourself. I suggest not using unhealthy food rewards, instead focus on fun life activities and splurges (movie tickets, concert tickets, vacation, something for your wardrobe, spa treatments, exercise class, cooking class, date night, ladies night). Also, put a paper calendar or sticky notes with your goals somewhere visible to you every day (like your bathroom mirror, car visor, desk) to keep yourself motivated and on track. This practice can apply for trying to lose weight to cleaning out your closet. Breaking things down promises less stress and success in the long run.