Nupur Gandhi has been finding it difficult to stay consistent with her workouts since the festive season kicked off. She does enjoy her yoga sessions, yet often she finds herself missing more than the usual number of workouts every week. So, last month, instead of waiting for the year to end and starting anew from 2022, the 29-year-old IT professional from Raipur set herself a mini-goal of working out for 45 days at a stretch. “I wanted to have some momentum going into 2022, so I set myself this mini-goal of exercising for 45 days leading up to the New Year. Also, I wanted to hold myself accountable,” she says.
There's plenty of research that shows that most New Year's resolutions are broken within a matter of weeks. "I don't think it's about New Year resolutions as much as it is about how I end the year [on a high]. I know for a fact 2022 will be an amazing year,” says Gandhi. She intends to keep focusing on her health and wellness in the coming year.
It is vital to have health goals, especially if you are inching towards your 30s, as lifestyle diseases start appearing around this time. However, when setting your health goals, do not attempt to overhaul your entire lifestyle, warns coach and nutritionist Shannon Beer. "It can be far more effective to focus on small changes at a time. First, identify your area of weakness, then prioritise the most important things to work on. This will move you towards your goals in a way that is easier to sustain, rather than taking on too much and giving up,” Beer says. Gandhi has seen plenty of people set goals that are way out of reach and way into the future, and has learned from their mistakes. "One of my biggest learning this year has been to be in tune with my reality and be more in the present and hence the 45-day goal to be active," she says.
After identifying where to start, make your goals as specific as you can. Instead of a vague goal like exercising more often, put down the number of days you want to work every week, the time of day and the duration of your workout. Make sure your goal is specific, measurable and keep track of it. Gandhi doesn't just set herself goals, but she also plans how to achieve them. It helps if you plan how and when you would go run, cycle, swim, go to the gym or exercise right from the beginning, say fitness coaches.
Along with a plan, having a strong source of motivation is important, says Beer. "Oftentimes, we want to see some physical changes to help us feel more confident. But it helps to consider why else the change is important. What would you do if you had more confidence or more energy? How would this change the way you interact with other people or the way you live your life?" adds Beer.
Another thing that helps you stay true to your goals is to have contingency plans. Life will happen, and there will be days when you won't have time enough for the planned 10km run or would be stuck in back-to-back meetings to even squeeze in a 10-minute workout. Gandhi is no stranger to such situations and has factored that in. “There are days when I can't do an hour-long session of yoga, so I try to do 30-minutes. But I make sure I go to my mat every single day. It's all about what I prioritise,” says Gandhi. Being able to pick yourself up after a setback is a crucial part of making progress, says Beer. "If you're too busy criticising yourself, you might find it difficult to pinpoint areas of improvement. Treating each setback as a learning experience will help you to keep moving forwards," she says.
Finally, it helps to broaden your idea of success. If the goal is fat loss, keeping track of your scale weight can be a good idea, but there are a lot of other things you can focus on, too, says Beer. How are your clothes fitting? How are your energy levels day today? Is your mood better? Is your confidence improving? "These are all other signs of progress that you can pay attention to," Beer says.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.