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4 Steps to Achieve Your Health & Fitness Goals

Updated: Aug 6, 2018

Be A Tortoise Sloth in a Hare World

We all know the lesson from the fable, The Tortoise and The Hare, but we seem to forget that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to our health. As we embark on a new year, we are bombarded with messages about improving our fitness, nutrition, time management, etc., and how to do it NOW. Let’s face it, the hare in all of us wants everything yesterday (maybe Amazon should change it’s logo), but the tortoise knows the secret to success – consistency over time.

Maybe you have firsthand experience with the quick fix approach, and you’ve even had some short-term success. Real life intervened, and your initial motivation wore thin. Then you started getting down on yourself for falling short of the mark. Eventually, you dropped off entirely. At the end of this experience, you felt defeated, and self-doubt loomed over you.

So, how can you adopt new habits to make changes that you can sustain for the rest of your life? Don’t be a hare, don’t even be a tortoise, be a sloth. Set your goal, then break it down into tiny pieces, and ready, steady, GOOOO SLOOOOOW. Here’s how:

1. Pick one thing to focus on.

Example - “Improve my nutrition”

Break this down into mini goals – increase fruit and vegetables, eat breakfast, drink more water, etc. Create your intention for just one of those things. Why? For most people, life moves at a pretty hectic pace. Add the responsibilities of career and/or family, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with making any type of change. The more changes you try to adopt at once, the more unlikely your success with any one of them.

2. Decide on the specifics – what, when, where, how?

“Improve my nutrition by eating breakfast 3 days this week”

Begin with a plan and treat the process as an experiment. Sweat the details. What will you eat, and what ingredients will you need? Create a grocery list and decide when/how you will get the items. Look at your schedule and decide which 3 days would be easiest to eat breakfast. Set yourself up for success. You should be able to look at your strategy and say with 80-90% confidence, “I can do that!”

3. Evaluate at the end of your experiment. How did that work?

Did you eat breakfast 3 times last week?

Yes - Build on that! Can you add more days of eating breakfast next week, or maybe you’d like to add some variety to your breakfasts? Remember, small, deliberate steps. Just focus on making breakfast a little bit better.

Yes & No - If results were mixed, how many days did you eat breakfast? What factors helped make that happen vs. days you did not? How can you do more of that?

No - If the experiment didn’t work at all, go back to step 2 to see what your stumbling block is and how try something to new to work around it and increase your chance of success. Reality check - are you feeling 80-90% confident? IMPORTANT: This is a good place to remind yourself to ignore your inner critic, and just focus on what you can do to make it easier to be successful the next go round.

4. Repeat.

But what if you’re not starting from scratch on healthy habits? Building on our breakfast habit example, let's say you already eat breakfast regularly, but want to improve the quality of your nutrition. What would that look like?

1. Choose your focus- what healthier breakfast food will you add?

2. Plan – determine the ingredients, when to shop, and when you’ll try the new breakfast.

3. Evaluate. How did it go? Regroup if necessary, and repeat.

Yes, it sounds like a slow process because it is. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your health. Patience and persistence equals success!

Be the sloth.

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