Every year, it’s the same thing. Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or an attempt to re-boot our lives, we try starting yet another attempt to stick to a fitness regime, reducing the intake of bedtime snacks or just taking a time out. It’s time to set aside the baggage of a New Year’s resolution. Instead, why not flip that resolution into creating goals with reasonable milestones?
After all, a resolution is a big commitment, and one of its biggest hurdles is staying on track. For instance, we know eating a whole bag of chips isn’t good for us even though we may desire it. But maybe if we put handful in a bowl and discipline ourselves to only eat these few, just like our goals, it becomes more manageable, and at the end of the day, it will be easier to keep on track.
Dione Mason couldn’t agree more. Mason is an award-winning canfitpro certified fitness professional in Toronto with over 20 years of experience as a fitness and lifestyle coach. In 2017, Mason became the first Black woman to receive the canfitpro Fitness Professional of the Year award and in 2019 the first Black woman to receive the canfitpro New Presenter of the Year award. “Keeping clients on track – whether it’s working on a new fitness program, reevaluating their nutrition plan or maybe becoming more mindful of their mental well-being – is one of the hardest things to do. We all lead busy lives with many constraints that it’s easy to get sidetracked.” Mason likes to keep it simple.
“I find that when you have accountability, it can make all the difference. That’s why I get people to introduce themselves in my classes – even exchanging their social media information. It helps to break the ice, and most importantly, it creates a community of like-minded people experiencing the same activity. You’re no longer a stranger in that class or the gym. If you don’t show up, you’ll be missed. So, on the days when you’re not motivated, and yes, you will have those days, you have an accountability partner who shares your goals and will provide that added support and encouragement, keeping you on track.”
Write it Down
We may think putting pen to paper is old-fashioned, especially in our techno environment. But according to Henriette Anne Klauser, Ph.D., in her book Write It Down, Make It Happen, “The ‘writing it down’ part is not about time management; it’s not a ‘to-do today’ list that will make you feel guilty if you don’t get every single thing done. Rather, writing it down is about clearing your head, identifying what you want, and setting your intent. You can ‘make it happen.’ ” Mason is a huge believer in the physical act of writing things down. “It’s really powerful, and clients are amazed how that simple act can make a huge difference in keeping on track. So, whether it’s jotting down the three days of activity for the week or what time you’ll be working out, putting pen to paper helps lock it in.” And when things don’t go exactly as planned, or you go off course, Klauser suggests shifting the way your brain thinks. “The right side of the brain traditionally governs the feeling, non-verbal part of you, while the left hemisphere manages rational thought and logic. When your goal is not working, determine which side you are operating from, and make a conscious shift to the other.”
According to Mason, one of the most important things you should do to keep on track is to have a daily meditation practice, preferably in the morning. “Even five to 10 minutes provides clarity and helps start the day on the right path. It helps you pause and think about your physical goals, focus on the things you want to do throughout the day, and gives you a mental health break, which is very much a part of your wellness.”
“I like to think of a person’s fitness activity like a bank account,” explains Mason. “Even if you don’t consistently put money in the bank, it doesn’t mean that all the money disappears. Look, it’s even happened to me: you get injured, you get busy, life happens, and you miss a week or two. So, have a pity party for a moment, then get back up and say it’s a new day. Let’s move forward and not focus on the fact that you missed a week or two. Your body will return and remember you’ve spent so many weeks, months, or years of investment doing regular activity. It’s going to remember. Your investment is waiting to return your dividends.”
As the expression goes, how do you eat an elephant? Small bites. “We tend to want to take big chunks. Keeping on track is about taking baby steps,” says Mason.
So, whether you’re eating a bag of chips or an elephant – keeping on track is about empowering good habits, one day and one bite at a time.