It’s that time of the year again! We’ve evaluated our strengths and weaknesses, and we’re ready to make some very healthy changes. But all too often, the fear of failure gets in the way of our goal setting. Something very important we’ve learned from Brian St. Pierre, from Precision Nutrition®, is that 100% accuracy of your goals is great, but not required. If you can set a goal, measure your success, and find that you’ve come a bit closer to the mark than before you’ve started, you’re already a winner. Read on to understand just how Brian has managed to set goals with reasonable expectations to end up satisfied with his results—even when they don’t totally pan out.
Question: Please share a goal/New Year’s Resolution that you had set for yourself and actually stuck with. Why were you successful in maintaining this goal?
Brian: “Last year I set a goal of flossing once per day (usually at night) 80% of the time. Historically, I have always been an inconsistent flosser. I’d floss every night for a week, then floss once or twice the following week. I decided it was finally time to be more consistent, rather than so all-or-none. I used a habit-tracking app to both remind me to floss each night and to track how consistently I did this behavior. And I intentionally chose 80%, because it felt both doable and beneficial. A smaller number would have been doable, but I’m not sure how much benefit my oral health would have received (though I suppose any increase in consistency would have benefitted me). And a larger number certainly felt beneficial, but more likely for me to backslide into that all-or-none mindset and approach again. As of this writing, I was able to floss 5.4 nights per week, on average, for all of 2017 (77% of the time). Which is right where I aimed to be.
Overall, I think I was successful for many reasons. One, because I was at a point where I felt ready, willing, and able to commit to this daily practice. Two, because I chose a goal that felt very achievable to me, and I also felt that this would bring about noticeable changes to oral health (further reinforcing my commitment and consistency, by seeing the benefits). Three, my 80% goal also allowed some flexibility and prevented feelings of guilt on nights when flossing would have felt burdensome rather than helpful (e.g. getting home at 2am from a late-night flight), so I could skip that night and know that my goal wasn’t negatively impacted. Four, because it was an easy thing to add to my previous nightly routine, which always included brushing my teeth. And five, I had a simple nightly reminder that urged me to follow through (even if I didn’t feel like it), and also kept track of my consistency for me—giving me valuable data and insight into my behavior and any patterns that might stand out.”
Question: In your opinion, what factor(s) determines a realistic and worthwhile fitness goal to set at the start of a new year?
Brian: “To me, many factors determine a realistic and worthwhile goal. Does it fit your values? Understanding why it’s important to you. Do you have a flexible and realistically achievable goal, and process to help you reach that goal? Do you have the underlying framework to make that goal a reality? And finally, how ready, willing, and able are you to do what it takes to achieve that goal?”
Question: What advice do you have for others as they are creating health/fitness goals and New Year’s Resolutions? What do you suggest for helping them stick to and succeed in their new goal?
Brian: “My best advice would be to think through those questions I posed. See if your goals fit your value system and beliefs, and ask yourself why this goal is important to you. If you can determine a good reason why, and the goal fits your deeper values, then ensure you come up with an achievable and flexible way to reach that goal. Too often folks aim for pie-in-the-sky options, rather than starting smaller and progressively building up. And be aware that your progress towards your goal will have ups and downs, good weeks and not-so-good weeks. This is normal. It’s ok to turn the “dial down” so to speak, during weeks when other life circumstances take precedence. Just try to turn the dial back up when the opportunity arises.”
Now that you have another outlook on New Year’s goal setting, we hope it seems a bit less intimidating. When you’re ready to make changes and have set your goals, find the tools available to you that will help aid your success. NordicTrack is a great resource for health and fitness information that includes workouts and nutrition advice, so check back here on the NordicTrack Blog regularly for the tools you need this year!
|Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, CSCS, CISSN, PN1: Brian St. Pierre is the Director of Performance Nutrition at Precision Nutrition—working with a host of fitness professionals and professional sports teams including the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Browns, and more. Brian is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. As part of the Precision Nutrition mission, he helps to deliver life-changing, research-driven nutrition coaching for everyone.|