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23 January 2012

Nutrition: Goals and Rewards, 23 Jan 2012

Good Monday to you!


Did you survive the blizzard that swept through the county late Friday evening? I found it an invigorating work-out to shovel, shovel, shovel away! Especially after I locked Miss Audrey (my Jeep) into 4-High to crank out the Filthy Fifty at CrossFit Collective with ten of my equally brazen bad-weather barons (not a bad alliteration if I do say so myself…). It wasn’t my finest thirty minutes in my training but it exposed to me exactly what happens when I made the choice to not consistently push for my goals. So today I bring you a quick blurb on the tenets of goal setting and rewards.


First, a warm welcome to Teresa, our newest member!


There are many posts on a tremendous number of fine sites out there. I even believe that we have one or two on our own blog from last year about it. However, I feel that it is best to pull some of this together and let you expand upon it yourselves. That is the way we learn best right? “I remember 10% of what I hear, 20% of what I read…60% of what I do, 80% of what I teach others.” So after you work on this yourself – take a few moments with the whole family at the dinner table and come up with some goals for everyone!


Goal setting is easy. Really, it is. We set goals all the time. “I’m going to get up tomorrow at 6:30.” “Tonight, I have to write my mom an email.” (Or in my case, Christmas thank-you’s!) “This year, we are FINALLY going to take that vacation to Teton National Park.” See? All the time.


What do these goals have in common? Other than the fact that most get pushed under the rug for another year (there truly is no MOTIVATION to complete them; New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?)… They all are only partially complete and there is no system for reward OR punishment. What happens at work if you hit all of your goals for last year? You get a good PLM score, a bonus (sometimes), and usually a raise. Not bad, right? What happens when you don’t hit your goals? You’re begging to keep your job. That sucks, right? Okay – so we agree. Back to that soon.


I can see the hands waving from across the cubicle sea! “So what kind of goals should we have?” and “How do you make a good set of goals?” Okay, maybe those aren’t the exact questions you are asking…but they should be! Let’s tackle question one:


What kind of goals should we have?

The experts (people who we pay for this kind of information) say that we should have short-term (3-6 months), mid-term (2 to 5 years), and long-term (10+ years) goals. I agree – kind of. In my opinion, we should be certainly have all of these but our goals are ALWAYS time-specific so breaking them down this way is a moot point. Let’s work on it this way:

1.       Pick 5 areas of your life you would like to improve. Might I suggest – Nutrition, Fitness, Emotional, Cultural, and Social?

2.       With each one, determine your motivation for improving that area of your life. Such as, “I want to be able to play duck-duck-goose with my grandkids when I’m 60.

3.       Then take a few minutes to view your current state and what is keeping you from doing this. “I can’t stand up from the couch and walk to the bathroom without being out of breath or needing a cane now.”

4.       Place your motivation at the top of the page. Then list out the acronym SMART and start to draft your newest goal: (I did not make this up – CNH uses this same system to define personal work objectives)

a.       S – Specific: The objective is concrete, detailed, focused, well-defined, results and action-oriented

b.      M – Measurable: The objective is measurable and the measurement source is defined

c.       A – Attainable – the objective is achievable and challenging

d.      R – Relevant – the objective is relevant to your motivation

e.      T – Time bound – the objective has a deadline

5.       Fill in your chart!

a.       S – I will attend a one-hour fitness class at CrossFit Collective no less than 3 times each week

b.      M – I will be able to play duck-duck-goose with the grandkids whenever they want (yes, your motivation can be what you use for measurement)

c.       A – I’ll probably only be able to watch one hour of TV instead of three, but I will adjust to make sure this happens and I will find a friend to go with me so I can’t just FLAKE!

d.      R – This goal will help me become stronger and more fit so that my I will be able to play with my grandkids whenever they want!

e.      T – I will accomplish this goal within 2 years because I will be 60 and they will be old enough to run by then!

6.       Now, give yourself a way to track your progress.

a.       Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, uses a calendar complete with stickers and stars for each day she hit that goal.

b.      The athletes at CrossFit Amundson use a similar matrix chart that checks off a box each time (useful for task-oriented goals instead of time – i.e. By April 15th, I will attend a local art gallery or museum eleven times).

7.       Don’t forget accountability! It is a very good practice to decide on a way that you can be held accountable. Many people believe that as soon as you decide to do something – tell everyone! Heck, post it on your Facebook page. That way you are more likely to do it because who wants to talk to a friend they haven’t seen in a while and get this question, “So how’s the duck-duck-goose thing going?”  when your answer ends up being some kind of mumbled response because you’re still lying on the couch out-of-breath from that last bathroom break? Plus, it’s always more fun to do something with friends. They keep you honest and on-track.

8.       And finally onto the rewards! Determine how you will reward your effort. I always suggest three levels. The 99%’ers, the 80/20, and the Didn’t Get It.

a.       Rewards can come in all shapes and sizes. For most of us, we used to reward effort with food and frivolity. This just won’t cut it anymore. You can easily take 30, 60, or 90 hard days of working on your goal and toss it out the window of a moving train over the cliffs of Dover essentially ruining your effort. Think this one through.

b.      For example: If you just completed 30 days on the Whole30 program (go 99%’ers!) there is nothing wrong with going out to celebrate at a high-end restaurant where you can order clean, nutritious foods and won’t get a smorgasbord at serving time. However, you probably will find a love for cooking and who wouldn’t love to splurge instead on some decadent LeCreuset cast-iron cookware that you can use many times over to continue creating delicious and healthy meals for you and your family (a far better return on investment if you ask me – that’s why Miss Stacey and I own a lot of their wares!).

c.       Another one: If you dutifully attempted to get 8 hours of sleep per week-night for the month of February but a sick baby and a snoring husband thwarted your efforts (the 80/20 club) then I think that an hour-massage is a reasonable reward. The half-day at the spa can come next month when you’ve made some changes and your goal was achieved.

9.       Earlier I mentioned punishment. This is not the corporal kind. Simply this is the I-didn’t-get-it (and I’m not going to beat myself up over it, but I’ll make some changes and try again) club. Have fun with it. Here is an example:

a.       For the month of January I will take the bus to work at least three times per week. With the money I will save I will take Miss Stacey to see STOMP at the American Music Theatre on February 3rd.  If I take the bus only twice a week due to my own actions then we use the money to see a show at the Fulton Theatre. If I do not reach any of these marks then I will cook us a very nice supper and do my own rendition (complete with costumes and props) of STOMP for Miss Stacey to enjoy at home.

b.      Have fun with it. Then get cracking on making it happen the next time.


Tonight, when you go home grab a clean notepad and sit down at the kitchen table even before the dishes are clear and start to draft your goals. Come up with five categories (the one’s above are not absolute but they are a good start!). Then come up with two goals for each. Follow the rubric as best as you can. That’s ten total. Don’t worry that you have six for the next six months and only one for ten years from now. Let’s just get started on the goal-setting lifestyle and know that we’ll fine tune and tweak later. And as always – DON’T STRESS! If you miss it, keep going. It’s the repeated actions that will bring you success.


Here’s where I leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “You can quit and nobody will care. But you will always know.


To goals. And banging pots in the kitchen.


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