Dan John keeps it simple and realistic in his recent article for Men's Health.
The key to goal setting: "Inch by inch, it's a cinch. Yard by yard, it is hard."
I have a goal for you. Oh, not for this January or even this next year. On January 1, 2015, I want you to weigh one pound less than you do today. That's my goal for you.
Now, if you have to fast from Thanksgiving 2014 until New Year's Day, 2015, I am fine with that challenge. If you have to sit in a sauna in plastic all New Year’s, I am comfortable with that, too.
Wait? What do I hear? Is it scoffing and coughing about our next New Year's Feast, too little work for this man, this beast? (Hats off to Dr. Seuss here.) If you do the math and can remember that one pound is 3500 calories, you only need to cut nine calories out of your daily intake each day!
There is a sassy soft drink that advertises itself with "Just One Calorie!" If you are drinking 18 of them a day NOW, simply cut back to nine a day for the next year and, POOF, your pound will be gone!
That's all I am asking: one pound less next year.
During my annual check up, my doctor shared with me some insights about longevity. Now, he famously told me years ago that to survive from 25 to 55, statistically, one had to only follow three rules:
1. Don't smoke.
2. Wear your seatbelt—and a helmet when appropriate.
3. Learn to fall.
The other day, he shared three insights that allow you to live a long life and, ideally, drop dead (think about that):
1. Don't weigh over 300 pounds.
2. Walk or exercise a half an hour a day.
3. Eat a Mediterranean diet (gets some colorful veggies in there!).
I can bet that you have nodded your head through both lists. It's all so simple. It's simple, but it is not easy. Which gets me back to my goal for you: I want you to lose one pound this year and maintain it on January 1, 2015!
I can see the hands going up. "What about me? I want to lose fifty pounds this year!" Good for you. I am thinking that one pound is on the way to fifty, but I could be wrong.
Why such a lowly goal? Well, let me say this nicely: If you are sure you can lose one pound in a year, let's do it. One pound. One year.
Yeah, but why?
In the throwing events for track and field, John Powell—a former world record holder in the discus—gives us the key to goal setting: "Inch by inch, it's a cinch. Yard by yard, it is hard." I trained my whole career practicing with the idea of "last throw, best throw." No matter how the day progressed, I left a little mark by the best toss of the day.
My "last throw" would be when I beat that mark. It could take one throw or one hundred throws. I soon discovered that trying to simply ease one solid effort without any fanfare or craziness would create the "best throw of the day." A few years ago, at the Nationals, I was in second place by two centimeters. I smiled as I began my throw focusing on just trying to ease one lovely final toss and simply beat my own best throw. It went seventeen feet farther than my best of the day and I won.
Everybody has lofty goals. I often joke about a father whose daughter comes home and describes the love of her life: "Oh, well, Daddy, he is average looks, average height, okay body, average intelligence, okay socially, sorta blends in . . . but I am madly in love with him." Wouldn't we all want to sit her down and ask some questions about her big plans for the future?
I'm not telling you to settle. I am telling you to take a long term look at your health, fitness and performance over the past years (or decades) and realize that something as simple as a one pound loss in a year trumps a slow gradual fattening of the belly and butt and face.
Rather than have twenty goals to be perfect in all things diet, exercise, life and living, why not have one reasonable, doable goal.
I have it for you: next January 1, let's be one pound lighter. I won't punish you if it is more than that. (Want to kickstart your weight loss goal? Try this cutting-edge Get Back in Shape! program that's designed to blast belly-fat, but also leave you energized and excited.)
Dan John has taught and coached for more than 30 years. As a coach, he's helped hundreds of athletes pack on double-digit pounds of rock-solid muscle. As an athlete, John broke the American record in the Weight Pentathlon. He is the author of several books, including Intervention.
The original article can be found here