I am so happy to welcome Shannon back to share her thoughts on successful goal setting! If you missed her Finding Fitness interview, make sure to check that out here!
How Do You Eat an Elephant?
One of my favorite sayings is “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” We can apply this wisdom to many areas of our life but for the sake of this post I’m going to focus on making the change to a healthy lifestyle.
For many years when I was trying to lose the 25 extra pounds that had stuck around after 2 pregnancies I’d get overwhelmed. When I looked at people who were in shape or eating right or just loving life it seemed like they were so far ahead of me. And, honestly, they were. I didn’t know their stories. For all I know they could have been standing in the exact same spot as me 3 years prior. I was comparing my beginning to their middle. At the time I couldn’t see any of that. My mind wasn’t working that way. All I could think was that there was no way I could ever achieve that.
That negative mindset held me back from making any progress for over 4 years. Then suddenly a switch flipped in my brain. I can really only attribute it to a perfect storm of thoughts coming together in my mind. At that point I changed my process and eventually lost 40lbs…twice. Yes, I got pregnant a third time and had to do it all over again.
Write It Out
Before you can make a change you need to know what you’re working toward. What is the end goal? We’re talking big picture here. Maybe your goal is to lose 40lbs and lower your cholesterol. Or maybe you want to lose 30lbs and run a 10k. Give it some thought and write it down. Don’t let fear hold you back from how big it seems.
Make it SMART
Did you write down that big goal? How do you feel when you look at it? If your goal is big enough you likely feel a mix of excitement and overwhelm. This is where most people stop. They dream big but when it comes time to work toward the goal they have no idea where to start. Your next task is to turn your goal into a SMART goal. It should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Let’s use the example of losing 30lbs and running a 10k. Those are really two separate goals so we’ll make a SMART goal for each. For example “I will exercise 5 days a week to lose 30lbs in 7 months so I have more energy to play with my kids.” And “I will follow a 12 week training plan to complete a 10k so I can check it off my bucket list.”
Chunk It Down
Now you have a timeframe for your goals. I suggest working toward one goal at a time, unless they’re very closely related (such as losing weight and lowering your cholesterol). I’m going to continue with the examples I used for SMART goals. In this case I’d start with the weight loss. A big reason that people get so overwhelmed when it comes to losing weight is because they try to do too much right out of the gate. They want to workout at high intensity levels 6 days a week and overhaul their nutrition. Then what happens? Three weeks in they’re completely burned out and they quit.
You need to approach it slow and steady. Much like the tortoise and the hare – slow and steady wins the race.
So how can we chunk down the weight loss goal? Make a list of all behaviors that need to be addressed for you to reach your goal.
Need to exercise more than twice a week.
Need to start resistance training.
Need to cut out my daily soda habit.
Need to eat more veggies.
Need to cut mindless snacking.
Need to drink more water.
Look at your list and decide what makes the most sense to start with. Let’s start with exercise. Go from walking for 30 minutes twice a week to doing it 3-4 times a week. At the same time, look at what nutritional changes you can make. Increase your water intake by 10oz. Add a serving of veggies to two meals.
Commit to these changes for 1-2 weeks. Evaluate how you’re doing and then pick another item from your list to work on. When you break your goal down to manageable tasks it becomes much less overwhelming.
This is what I had to do in order to move past my overwhelm and achieve my results. Making a lifestyle change is hard. It’s a combination of nutrition, fitness, and mindset. Facing that looking only at the big picture of the end goal is enough to frighten anyone into inaction. But if you can use the process that I outlined above then you’ll be well on your way to success. Just remember, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Shannon Dombkowski helps moms find their fabulous. She’s a certified health coach, personal trainer, wellness educator, mom of 3 girls + one lazy dog, blogger and the girlboss behind Tough Mom Fitness. Her passion is helping moms adopt and sustain a healthy lifestyle by making time for moving and nourishing their bodies while improving their mindset. She shares her tips on her blog and various social media sites. You can follow along on her blog, Instagram, and Facebook.