New Year’s Day brings new resolve and big hopes.  What’s your aim for 2014?  To lose weight, improve your relationships at home or work?  To tackle anxieties that get in your way?  It feels so good to think about how you’re going to harness all that positive energy and excitement.  So when the experts say to set small goals – groan!  Does it seem like they just splashed a bucket of cold water on you?

In my practice this happens all the time when I start working on weight loss with my clients.  Once they’ve learned some of the basic FoodThink strategies for sticking to their plan, we start to set some goals, and sometimes there’s a negotiation over what those should be.  

Client:  I’m going to head to the gym four times a week.  I know it will take some effort, but if I go early in the morning, I can definitely get there.  I’ve done it before, so I know it’s do-able, and I know I’ll feel great when I do.

Me:  It sure does feel great when you get into that kind of zone with working out.  But I’m wondering if you should try for two times a week instead, and specify the exact times you’ll go?

Client:  (Pauses, thinking, “Does she really understand what we’re trying to do here?”)  Twice a week is not really going to get me to my goal…  How about if I make it two times definitely, plus the other one or two if I can make it that day?

Me:  I’m going to recommend two fixed times to start, no extras.  Here’s the thing;  any day that you wake up and you are required to go, you will have nothing to think about.  It’s mandatory, nothing to consider, and therefore less chance for getting annoyed with yourself if you back out.

REMEMBER:  Any day that you wake up and debate whether to go to the gym, even if it’s a day you are not “required” to go, is a day that you risk feeling upset with yourself for not following through.

Every day that you didn’t debate it, just went to the gym because it was mandatory, even if that happened “only” twice a week, it added to your huge increase in gym visits.  And maybe even more important, it added a “plus” in your positive feelings column.

But debating and not going, no matter how seldom it happens, is always a net negative in the “bad feeling about yourself” column.

And it’s that column that’ll get you every time;  accumulated dismay and disappointment are the fuel for skipping the gym and overeating.

So give it a try, set yourself some small, specific goals for 2014, and good luck!