Think back to the last time you set a long-term goal. If you’re like most people, you did great for the first week, so-so for the second, and you fizzled by the third. Week four — if you hadn’t abandoned your goal by then — was probably more about getting back on the wagon than steadfastly continuing on your originally scripted path.
It’s not your fault. Long-term goals fix their sights rigidly on the future, but we live in the present — and the present is full of surprises. This is especially true for the summer months. With vacations, social gatherings, and kids’ ever-changing schedules, our lives in the summer are constantly in flux — and that makes it impossible to rely on routine to keep us on track.
So what’s the answer to setting goals we’ll actually achieve? It’s both simple and revolutionary: Think one week at a time. In more than 25 years of studying human behavior, I’ve found that the people who approach challenges this way are the happiest and most successful. That’s why I launched the new barre3 Online, which provides a new workout and nutrition plan each week — and doesn’t look a day beyond. Judging from the amazingly positive feedback our clients have been giving us, it’s clear that we’re onto something big.
This summer, I invite you to apply the one-week-at-a-time approach to your health and fitness goals. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is — and how effective (you can accomplish so much in one week!). Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. If you don’t plan it, then it won’t happen.
Set aside a specific time to sit down and look at the week ahead. What are your main activities? Will you be traveling? Is your calendar packed with events? With all of that in mind, schedule 10 minutes to move every single day. Now look again: Which days can you go longer? Can you fit in a 30-minute workout one day? A 60-minute? Can you supplement a 10-minute workout with an energy-boosting walk later in the day? Think in terms of how exercising and eating well can fit into your life, not about how you can make your life revolve around them. It’s about planning healthy and happy into your life: If you don’t plan it, then it won’t happen.
2. Align around your priorities. Now share them.
Every Sunday, my family and I sit down and go through our calendars and our priorities for the week. This not only gets us all on the same page, but it also helps us support each other in our goals. For example, I’ve been meditating twice a day recently. When I let my family know this is a priority for me, they can help me make it happen by giving me the time and space I need to do it—and by keeping me accountable when I’m tempted to skip a meditation session.
3. Weight your physical activity toward the beginning of the week.
One of my barre3 Online clients’ shared her mantra “Never miss a Monday.” I love this because it gets to a truth about human nature: We’re driven by momentum. The longer we wait to start something, the harder it is. But if we start strong, kicking off Monday with a burner of a workout and nutritious eating, we begin the week feeling great and we’re more likely to stay on track for the rest of the week. Our new barre3 weekly online plans launch every Monday for this reason!
Long-term goals fix their sights rigidly on the future, but we live in the present — and the present is full of surprises.
4. Look at the week as a whole, not each individual day.
Let’s face it, there are going to be days when we’re not exactly pillars of good health. That’s OK. Rather than fall down a shame spiral after spending a day lounging by the pool or overindulging at your neighbor’s cookout, accept the slip and start fresh the next day. Your week as a whole will still be full of exercise and healthy eating, and that’s what counts (especially if you kick it off with a strong Monday)!
5. Pick three recipes to make at home.
Yes, there are seven days in the week, but summertime isn’t about spending hours in the kitchen. Pick three healthy recipes, double them, and rely on leftovers. And let the season do the work for you by taking full advantage of summer’s bounty. Fill your plate with garden-fresh greens, colorful veggies, and the amazing array of berries bursting with flavor. And don’t be rigid. Allow yourself that glass of rosé or that campfire s’more—just make sure you have a balance of healthy fats, protein, and fiber in every meal and snack. My favorite granola is a go-to in my house.
6. Be nimble.
One of the best things about working in one-week increments is that it allows you to adjust your activity to your current needs. As women, we change hormonally each week. Some weeks we’re bursting with energy and crave intense exercise sessions, other weeks we’re depleted and need to move in ways that replenish our energy. Adjusting our goals one week at a time gives us the opportunity to plan our exercise and eating accordingly so we can nourish our bodies in the best possible way.
7. Connect — both with yourself and with others.
Take time to reflect and connect how your chosen exercise and eating plan makes you feel. There is great power in learning about how your choices influence how you feel in your body. Use this information to plan your week ahead!
What fitness goals do you want to set for yourself this summer?
Images via Michelle Madsen