Achieving Goals - The Struggles and Successes
It's January, and you if you are like most people you have set new goals for the year. Perhaps some of those goals are professional and others are personal.
At times it may take longer than expected to achieve a specific goal. Take for example, losing weight. Here's my personal story of the struggles and my success toward getting to my ideal body weight.
In January of 2011 I realized I had to come to grip with my weight. I was six feet, well into middle age and I tipped the scales at 263 lbs. My doctor told me I idea weight was more like 195. I really didn't think I could get back to that weight, but set a goal of doing it. Not in a few months or even a year, but over time. I had tried diets in the past, only to regain the few pounds I had loss as soon as I went off the diet.
What I needed to do was change my lifestyle and my eating habits. Not a easy task for someone who loved a bag of chips, some dip and an afternoon of watching sports on TV. So I set about to change my eating habits and starting a regular program of exercise.
I struggled with getting to the gym on a regular basis and cutting out many of the foods I liked. Gone were chips and soda. Research says cutting soda out of your diet will help you lose 10-15 lbs. a year. But it also requires a life style change that includes regular exercise. I would make it to the gym a few times a week, but not with the commitment I really needed. By January of 2012 I had lost a total of nine pounds, not the 24 pounds I wanted to shed. Over the next year I lost only three more pounds, as I would slip and slide back and forth between eating anything I wanted and trying to make only small changes. Clearly this was not working and my doctor was warning me that I would face continued health problems. He recommended walking for a half hour a day. Sorry but walking is boring and in Kansas a walk outside is not always that easy. Getting to gym? Not always and there was always the danger of comparing myself to others and feeling the pain of failing, Which usually meant a candy bar to "help" me feel better.
By the middle o 2017 I was down to 247 pounds, so I had lost some weight, just not at my goal. So for 2016 I set a goal of losing just 10 pounds more. and by the end of year I did it, I was down to 237.
Now the challenge was losing just ten more pounds, getting to 227 by the end of 2017. I did this with more changes to my diet, cutting out (for the most part) potatoes, pasta, pizza and eating more meals that were mostly veggies. I also cut out ice cream which was something I use to eat almost every evening. I wasn't perfect, I still had cookies tucked away and it was a real challenge to get that sort of stuff out of my diet. I continued to focus on diet and exercise, not as a short-term fix, but as a life-style change.
By the end of 2017 I had lost another 10 pounds, and targeted getting to 220 by December, 2018 Well, December came and went and it wasn't until January 2019 that I actually got to my goal weight for the year.
Here's is my point, don't give up. Make your goals specific enough that you can achieve them. For me, ten pounds a year seemed doable. Make your goals time bound. For me, I checked my weight every month and if I wasn't where I wanted to be, I made changes. At times I used a personal trainer. Other times, I focused only my diet. Share your goals and measure your progress. In my case, I shared my goals with only my wife, because I knew she cared about my weight loss and would be supportive.
Today I reached my goal weight of 220. But I am not stopping here. I have a goal of getting to 210 this year and 198 the year after. It's another 22 pounds and I am sure some people could do that in less than a year, but a pound a month is what I can achieve, so its a goal I can achieve.
What are you goals? Are they specific? Can you measure your progress? Are they time bound? Do you have a support system in place to help you reach your goals. You need all of that and more.