Ahh, it’s the end of another year. 2017 is now done and dusted what a bitch huh?
Did you achieve what you planned to do or did you come up short?
Instead of being like everyone else and telling you how to succeed with your new year’s resolutions for 2018 and how you should plan for the long term I want to share with you a better strategy that is more likely to get you excited, to keep you on track and to lose that stubborn fat.
The problem with setting annual goals is that they’re too long. It’s hard to get excited about something that’s 12 months away and it’s also hard to keep on track during that time. If you want to lose 12 kg (25 pounds) in the next 12 months you kind of feel like you’ve got all the time in the world and since it’s not urgent you aren’t as strict on yourself.
Maybe you wait a couple of days after the new year to start exercising or to start eating healthy. Then after a few weeks you lose motivation and fall off the bandwagon but you don’t worry because you think you’ve still got 11 months and two weeks until the end of the year, that’s plenty of time to lose 12kg right?
Having this mentality sets us up for failure because of that very reason. Since it’s not urgent right now it’s not something we feel like we need to focus on every day and it’s easier to fall off track.
It’s also hard to be able to plan out exactly what you need to do for the next 12 months. Your goals might change in that time or something might come up, so planning for 12 months ahead is very unrealistic. Instead of setting yourself up for failure and not losing the weight you intended to, here’s a way better strategy…
ENTER THE TWELVE WEEK YEAR
The 12-week year is the kick in the pants you need to achieve your fitness goals. It’s exactly how it sounds, instead of having a 12-month target you have a 12-week target.
The 12-week year is not a new thing, it’s been around for a long time and it works very well. You’ve seen the 12-week body transformation challenges in gyms and all over Facebook and you see the results that people get. There’s only one problem with this model…
They achieve results but then you see those people a few months later and what usually happens? They’re back to their old ways and have put on some of the weight. This is because once they achieved their goal, they didn’t know what to do next.
The spin on the 12-week challenge that I’m talking about today is that it’s not juone-offe off 12-week challenge. The 12-week year is designed to have you set a goal for 12-weeks, achieve that goal and then choose another 12-week year to focus on. This means you have four big goals to tackle or one big major goal broken down into four parts during the year.
Your first 12-week year might be focused on losing a certain amount of weight, while your second 12-week year might be focused on training for a triathlon. Each 12-week year gives you the opportunity to become excited about your goal and because it’s more short term it also gives you the urgency to implement your to do’s.
The first thing you need to do is to set yourself a SMART goal you want to achieve Here’s what a smart goal means:
The 12-week goal you’re going to set for yourself needs to be specific. Losing weight is general and it’s not going to motivate you, but losing 8kg (18 pounds) in 12 weeks is a very specific goal. The more specific you make it and the more clear it is. It will allow you to know exactly whether you achieve the goal or not.
You need to be able to measure the progress you’re making weekly and monthly. If you want to lose fat you would measure it by weighing yourself on a scale, doing body measurements and photo’s, using belts, etc.
Is the goal you want actually attainable. One way to know if your goal is attainable is to ask yourself has someone achieved what you want before?
Have people lost weight before? Absolutely
Have guys lost 8 kg (18 pounds) of body fat in twelve weeks? Yep.
Before writing down your goal, just look around to see if your goal is attainable in twelve weeks.
A lot of people (including me), tend to overshoot what we can do in a short amount of time. I’m going to lose 20 kg (45 pounds) in twelve weeks!That is an unrealistic goal and you’re setting yourself up for failure. You need to think about what’s going on in your life at the moment, how much time you’re going to be able to dedicate to your goal and what’s going to get in your way. So, make it realistic.
Losing .25 – .5kg (.5 – 1 pound) a week is very realistic for most people.
T (Time Bound)
You’ve already got the timeline set up, which is twelve weeks. Then we break that down into weekly and daily actionable steps and achievable goals.
This smart goal should be challenging enough to push you outside of your comfort zone, but not so challenging that you’re putting your health at risk. Losing 30kg in 12 weeks is a bit excessive and can negatively impact your metabolism and health and fitness. But having a goal of losing 10kg is realistic while still being challenging.
Now that you’ve set yourself a smart goal it’s time to do some brainstorming.
After setting your smart goal, it’s now time to brainstorm everything you can think of that you need to do to accomplish this goal. Put on some music for 15 minutes and write down everything you can think of that will help you. Here’s a few examples to get you started:
- Throw out all bad food
- Eat x amount of calories a day
- Plan every sunday for meal prep
- Get to the gym 5 days a week
- Walk 10,000 steps a day
Don’t filter yourself while doing this, just write down everything that comes to your head. After 15 minutes of brainstorming and writing down all of your options, you can then cross out the ones that are unrealistic or that don’t make sense. After crossing out the unrealistic activities you now have a set list of all of the action steps you need to take in order to achieve your goal. The next thing to do is to create an action plan for the next month.
Write down exactly what you need to do every single day for the next month. Most of these things will be repeatable like working out, meal prep etc but the important thing is that you write them all down so you know exactly what you need to do every day.
Here’s what your week could look like:
- Monday: Weights Workout, Eat 1800 calories
- Tuesday: Cardio Workout, Eat 1800 calories
- Wednesday: Weights Workout, Eat 1800 calories
- Thursday: Cardio Workout, Eat 1800 calories
- Friday: Weights Workout, Eat 1800 calories
- Saturday: Cardio Workout, Eat 1800 calories
- Sunday: Food Shopping and meal prep
After writing down everything you need to be doing every day for the next month and booking it in, you’re going to know exactly what to do on what days. There’s not going to be any guessing and you’re going to get into the habit of exercising every day.
Tracking your progress
How do you know if you’re moving closer towards your goals if you’re not tracking? Being able to record your progress every week to see if you’re on the right track is essential for motivation, knowing if you’ve got to make changes and to give you feedback. Here are three ways you can track your progress:
Humans are visual creatures. We would much rather be able to see something physical to understand it more and when it comes to making progress in the gym one of the best ways is to take photos.
You’re looking at yourself in the mirror every day, and chances are you’re not going to notice as much of a difference as you will with photos because the changes will be small and subtle every week and you just get used to seeing little changes. But when you take weekly photos you’re able to look back and see if you’re truly progressing (or if you haven’t progressed) and you can see the most notable areas you’ve improved. Whether you have or haven’t improved, photos are going to give you the motivation to keep pushing.
Nothing feels better than being able to see progress because you don’t want to stop that progress. On the contrary, nothing feels worse than realising that you’re behind on your goals, which means it’s time to adjust what you’re doing to get back on track. Lighting, camera angle and many other variables can change the way you look and give you a false reality (think about all of the guys on the front of men’s fitness magazine and people on Instagram).
Photos don’t lie if taken correctly, so make sure when you take them you take them in your underwear against a white wall in the same spot each time. That way you aren’t leaving any room for error. Take four photos minimum. One from the front, one of you facing to the left, one of you facing to the right, one of you facing the back.
One thing you might notice after a few months of weight training and healthy eating that your posture is improving and you’re standing taller. You might start to notice that you have more definition around your chest and less fat around your face.
Psst – Don’t expect miracles in a month. Your first two batches of photos probably won’t show that much of a dramatic change, and if this is the case, it’s completely normal.
It didn’t take you one month to put all of your weight on, so don’t expect it to all come back off in a month either.
Doing your body measurements allows you to see where you’re losing fat and if you’re losing it in the right areas.
You can measure as many points as possible but here’s what I do for myself and my clients:
- Legs (thighs)
That’s pretty much all we tend to worry about and you don’t want to be spending too much time measuring each and every body part.
Side note: All of your measurements will go down when you’re losing weight. Guys get discouraged when they see their chest, arms and shoulders go down half a centimeter but you can’t decide where you’re losing fat from and you have fat all over your body. The most important thing is you’re seeing the waist and hip measurements go down each time you measure. This is your goal in losing fat. I’d suggest doing this once a fortnight at the same time you do your photos.
You’ve probably heard that scales are evil and you shouldn’t be weighing yourself every day, and honestly, if you have a very unhealthy relationship with your weight, then you probably shouldn’t weigh yourself daily. But if you don’t have a problem then doing a daily check-in is the best way to keep track of your ‘running average weight’ and to give you real-time feedback week by week to know if you’re trending in the right direction.
Waking up every morning, going to the bathroom and weighing yourself at the same time is going to give you a fairly accurate measure of what your weight actually is.
It will fluctuate 500g to a kg (one to two pounds) or more depending on factors such as a big dinner, how much water you drink, how much salt you’ve had, etc. So don’t be too stressed if you wake up one day and you’re 1kg (two pounds) heavier all of a sudden, it doesn’t mean you’ve just gained a kilo of fat. Usually, there’s a reason behind it.
Instead of focusing on the day to day scale it’s good to look at it weekly to find out what your average weight is. If you weigh yourself every day Monday to Sunday and your weight looks like this:
70kg, 70.6kg, 70kg, 71kg, 70.2kg, 70kg, 70kg – your average weight is 70.2kg (add all the numbers then divide it by 7).
Knowing this will allow you to see week by week if the scale is going up or down and determine if you need to make adjustments. When it comes to buying scales, just buy yourself a simple set of digital bathroom scales and make sure they’re on a flat surface. Don’t buy those body fat scales that say they can tell you how what your body fat percentage is. These can be inaccurate due to the amount of water you’re holding and other external factors. They’re a waste of money and I really advise you just to buy a normal set of bathroom scales.
I suggest doing your measurements at the end of every week or the first thing Monday morning. Weigh yourself on an empty stomach, take your photo’s in the exact same place in your underwear and take your body measurements.
Pick a reward and pick a punishment
You’re going to be pushing yourself hard in order to achieve this 12-week goal and you want to be able to reward yourself for it. What’s the point in doing this if you aren’t going to give yourself a treat. Yes, the weight loss itself is a win but make sure you have a reward also. This could be getting a massage, buying yourself a whole new wardrobe, going out to a fancy restaurant or going to see a new movie that’s coming out (star wars anyone). It doesn’t matter how big or how small just make sure you reward yourself for the hard work.
The opposite should apply too. If you don’t achieve your goal what’s the punishment you will get? It doesn’t have to be anything terrible but humans don’t like pain and when we are thinking about a punishment we are more likely to do the actions we need to in order to avoid that punishment. Your punishment might be giving $150 to a friend or a charity you hate. It might be banning yourself from your favourite T.V series.
This might sound like a bit much but if you have that punishment and reward for yourself you will notice how much more driven you are to achieve your goals.
Time to get going
You’ve got one week until New Years and Now you know exactly what you need to do in order to achieve your goals for 2018. Set yourself a 12-week goal instead of a 12 month goal and watch how much more motivated and excited you are. If you follow this strategy and create a 12-week goal I promise that you will make more progress with your health than you ever have before. The best thing is that after you achieve your first 12-week goal, you’ve then got another three goals you can work on for the rest of the year.
You’re more likely to stay on track when you have a buddy to train with you or someone keeping you accountable. This could be a friend or family member who also wants to lose weight or this could be an expert like a personal trainer. Having someone else to keep you accountable and motivated when times get tough can make all the difference between achieving your goals or failing. When you have someone there to motivate you on the days where you struggle or knowing that someone will be waiting for you at the gym after a long days at work will help you push through those tough times.
If you don’t have a friend or family member hire yourself a trainer, they will be able to help you achieve your goals faster and the best thing is that they will help you plan out your 12-weeks. They will tell you exactly what you need to do in order to achieve your goal and take a lot of the thinking out of it.
If you need someone to keep you accountable and get on the right track you can email me by clicking here.
Did you skip to the end?
If this article was too long and you just want the summary here you go…
- 12 month goals suck
- 12 week goals kick ass
- Pick a goal and a deadline for 12 weeks
- Write down everything you need to do to accomplish it
- Measure and track every week (scales and body measurements)
- Pick a reward and a punishment
- Start now