Sometimes people let an all-or-nothing gung-ho attitude stand in their way. If they can’t go big, they go home…and sit on the couch and eat pretzels. Goals don’t have to be extreme like “I’m signing up for a half-marathon in 2 months!” when you’ve never run one mile. It’s one thing to have a larger goal in mind (I want to be fit, I want to lose the baby weight, etc.) but you need little successes along the way to keep yourself motivated and inspired. There’s a reason why many recovery programs take on the “one day at a time” mantra and mentality: it’s obtainable.
Lately I’ve been doing push-ups before bed at night. You might now have this awesome vision of me banging out 30+ (and I thank you for that!) but no, that’s not even close. My goal is to do as many push-ups as I can, and the following night I have to do that exact amount again, if not one or two more. Let me get really real here and tell you what that means for me…I’m up to 10 as of last night. And that’s on my knees, girly push-ups. I started with a struggling, shaky mess of 4 push-ups about 2 weeks ago and have built my way up to 10. 10! And you know what? I am so PROUD of that 10. I can feel myself getting stronger. I don’t howl on my exhale anymore, my arms aren’t shaking at the end, and I actually look forward to doing them. Granted this is coupled with BodyPump and lifting at the gym, but I can see and feel the progress of my improvement.
Taking off little bites at a time is realistic and obtainable. And when you have realistic and obtainable goals that are fluid, you’re more likely to stick with it. Maybe in a couple more weeks I’ll get to 20 push-up, or maybe I’ll plateau at 12. Or maybe I’ll be able to do 5 big push-ups on the balls of my feet instead of my knees. I’m being intentional with my goal so that I don’t get fixated on anxiety-inducing numbers, as I have a bad habit of doing.
Flexible, or fluid, goals are excellent for fitness—particularly for endurance and strength—but they can be applied to nutrition as well. Eliminate one bad food from your shopping list this week and replace it with one healthy food. Leave it off again next week and maybe leave off another unhealthy food too. For instance, my kryptonite is pretzels (send the #eatclean police!) so I purposely left them out of my cart on Monday and my food diary has been much improved the past couple days because of it. I miss them, but I didn’t go from 0 to 60 in .2 seconds either. Maybe the rip-off the bandaid and toss all the contents of your pantry into the trash works for some people, just as couch-to-marathon might work for others (not fair by the way!), but for me, gradual changes have always been the most effective method for long-term change.
So tell me, what little goals can you set for yourself? Will you take the push-up challenge with me?