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  • Sandy Branch, ACSM CPT

The Long Game

With January here and all the weight loss and health goals set, I want to talk about how to get past the resolution hump after the first couple weeks. Those weight loss challenges are a great way to get started, especially when you have a friend join you. But what happens after? After the challenge ends, after the Valentines candy is out and after people stop coming to the gym.

Urban dictionary defines the long game as follows: “the long game is having a long term plan, long term goals, or doing things now that set you up for the future.”

So what does the long game look like? A great way to maintain your long game is to apply the S.M.A.R.T. method to your life. SMART is a acronym that stands for the following:

Specific- Replace that broad paintbrush thought of “get in shape” and get a fine tipped detail liner brush of “walk a mile without stopping”

Measurable- A measurable goal is simply that, measurable. This is mostly about the numbers of how much, how far, how long, etc. This can be applied with our example goal by using distance and time: “I will walk briskly 3 days a week before work for 20 minutes”

Attainable/Accountable- The 'A' is usually the attainable or achievable but I really like to add the word “accountable”. If we are accountable, we are more likely to follow through. This can be as simple as posting on social media your walks (lots of free walking apps allow you to show your accomplishments) or having a workout buddy. Being attainable or achievable is that specific goal. If you are starting from no fitness at all, walking a mile will be much more attainable than say, a full marathon.

Relevant/Realistic- Your fitness/health goal must be something which you are both willing and able to work toward. This goal can be high and realistic. If it’s not high enough, you may not achieve much out of it because a low goal exerts low effort.

Time- "Someday" does not count. This T is really important to keep the urgency and importance of the goal. For the walk a mile briskly without stopping, give yourself a specific date to achieve it. For example, say you started on January 1st. Aim for January 19th! The only time you adjust the time is if you are sick or injured and cannot walk. Or you can adjust it up if you meet your goal early.

Once you are done writing your S.M.A.R.T. goals, write it out in a sentence:

I will be able to walk briskly for a mile without stopping by or before January 19th by going to the track/gym/outside for 20 minutes at 6am Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I will set out my workout clothes the night before and go to bed early so I can get up to walk. My friend Becky will meet me there to walk with me and keep me accountable.”

The best part of the S.M.A.R.T. method is you can apply it to any goal in your life: drink more water, eat better, read more, stay off technology, get more sleep, etc.

With the long game, you will stumble. Any life change takes time and you should expect missteps along the way. My friends, please give yourself some grace when these stumbles come along. We all have those off days, so no beating yourself up! Also, please do not compare to your neighbor. We are all in this together but we have different journeys and your journey will look different. My personal goal for 2019 is to drink more water, eat less cereal, and get back into marathon running. I'm kind of addicted to cereal, lol.

Here are a few sites that have free downloadable SMART worksheets:

You can also simply google "smart worksheet" to find one that works for you.

What are your SMART goals? I would love to hear about them and how you are achieving them.

This 2019, let’s aim high for better health and wellness. Let’s go for that long game!

Happy New Year!

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