This Year Can Be Different: Fitness Resolutions

Indiana Epidemiology Newsletter
February 2008

Mike Wade, MS, MPH
ISDH Syndromic Surveillance Epidemiologist

Remember that vow you made to yourself about a month ago?  You know, the New Year’s resolution?  Like many, you probably said you were going to improve some aspect of your health and fitness.  So, how is it going—are you sticking with it?  If so, good for you!  If not, you are not alone.  Some sources estimate that nearly half the U.S. population makes this resolution at the start of the new year; however, about 75 percent fail to follow through to realize their goal.  But if 75 percent fail, that means 25 percent succeed.  The way you structure your resolution goals can dramatically increase your chances for long-term success.  Making your goals SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely—can make all the difference.  Yes, this year can be different.  If you need help, this is the place.  Let’s walk through setting SMART goals step by step.

If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?  A resolution to “lose some weight and get fit” is too general.  Describe in detail what you would like to achieve, such as, “I will lose 10 pounds and run a 5K”.  Now we are getting somewhere—a few more steps and you are there!

Now that your goal is specific, will you know when you have achieved it?  Can you measure it?  Yes.  You can step on the scale and see if you have lost 10 pounds, and you can measure 5 kilometers.  To make your chances for success even greater, you can measure your progress along the way by mapping out some mini-goals.  Tracking daily and weekly mini-goals will ensure that you meet your ultimate goal.  Sounds simple, right?  Yes, but it is not necessarily easy, which leads us to the next step.

If you are going to succeed, you need to choose a goal that you can actually achieve—a realistic goal.  Picking a goal that is not realistic, like losing 20 pounds in 3 weeks, sets the stage for failure and discouragement.  Losing up to 1-2 pounds per week is a more attainable goal—and challenging enough, anyway!

It is important for your goal to support other aspects of your life that you feel are important.  If your New Year’s resolution fits well with other parts of your life, the positive feedback you get will fuel you on to achieve your ultimate goal!

To bring everything together, you need to decide on a deadline.  A goal without a timeframe is nothing more than a wish.  Develop a realistic timeframe for achieving your overall goal, as well as for the mini-goals along the way.  Give yourself a realistic amount of time—not too little, not too much.  Not allowing enough time is unrealistic, and allowing more time than you need may cause you to lose focus.  Think about a time frame that fits you and your goal.

Using SMART goals can help you succeed and so can INShape Indiana!  There are many Hoosiers, just like you, who are taking steps to improve their overall health.  INShape Indiana offers easy access to many health promoting resources.  Check out the Web site; you will be glad you did!