New year, stronger you? Setting SMART goals for the year ahead!

Unlike some fitness specialists I’m not going to sell you the idea that you need to be a better version of yourself in 2021, just because a new year is starting. You do not need to punish yourself or undo an indulgent festive period.

It’s time we changed the narrative – exercise is not punishment or a way to undo an indulgent time. Negativity breeds negativity and exercise is so much more than something on a to do list to tick off. It’s time we see it for the selfcare tool it is. Shifting our focus in the new year, to improve our overall wellbeing is a positive resolution that we can all get on-board with.

January is traditionally the time of year that we set goals, resolutions and make changes. If you are going to set a goal to improve your wellbeing by being more active in 2021, then I’m here to help.

My challenge to you is to set some really good SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed) goals, with an extra emphasis on the realistic element. Investing a bit of time in planning when you are going to do your workouts, walks with friends and family or other activities, that get you moving, is well worth doing. I encourage you to sketch out a typical week, plan in your activity and then sanity check on what you can realistically achieve around a busy life. Making the goals realistic will give you half a chance of achieving them, remember you can have different aims per month.

If you are starting your fitness journey from scratch you can plan in a building scale of frequency and intensity. If you would like some help setting these goals please drop me a line and we can book in a short call.

If you are setting goals around weight loss, I would challenge you to shift the narrative. The Health at Every Size (HAES) moment teaches us that we can be fit and healthy at any size and to question where the pressure comes from to occupy a smaller space. Weight loss can send some of us into a negative spiral of long-term weight yo-yoing as eventually you stop restricting your food intake and return to an eating pattern that leads to a regain of weight.

The practice of Intuitive Eating (IE) is about following your bodies signals around what to eat and when. IE challenges us to change the narrative to stop and think differently about food, moving away from being good (on the wagon) or bad (off the wagon); banning the thought of demonising food or drink and encouraging us to move to a thinking of food being nutritious or not nutritious instead. If we think of food as good or bad for us, it can often lead us to craving or binging on them when we’ve had a bad day or as an emotional response to something.

IE asks of us that we slow down, stop and think about how we feel when we eat or drink – Do we feel energised after eating? Or does it make us feel sluggish and unmotivated? It’s a long-term practice that asks us who benefits from us dieting? There are many diet programmes out there eg: Weight Watchers, Noom and Slimming world, to name a few, they all try to sell their diet to us with the aim of making money from us and they aren’t necessarily interested in us keeping the weight loss in the long term. In fact with certain companies where they have a subscription model, it means that they profit over and over again from us yo-yoing in our weight.

Once we start to see the impact and influence the diet culture has over us, we can start to think for ourselves again and we can look for what’s more important. What is more important being a size 12 over a size 14? Or moving and eating and drinking in a way that gives us a very happy balance in life?

I challenge you to look at all the advertising around us that encourage us to look like a smaller, slimmer version of ourselves and what they stand to gain from it.

Move more, laugh more, spend time with your loved ones more. These are goals and resolutions that are going to bring joy into 2021. Once you’ve settled on a positive goal, think about how you can make that SMART.

Here’s my goal for 2021 as an example.

In 2021 by Easter, I want prioritise self-care so that I am putting my own wellbeing first.

· In January I am going to spend 10 minutes a day on self-care on 5 out of 7 days in the week.

· In February I’m going to increase that to 15 minutes a day on 6 out of 7 days in the week.

· In March I’m going to increase that to 20 minutes per day on 6 out of 7 days in the week.

Self-care looks like one of the following, a Pilates based mobility flow, yoga, meditation, movement for fun – dancing around my kitchen (I’m going to have to work on that one as I’m quite reserved), taking longer over my skin care regime, or lifting weights for myself (not part of a client’s workout). I am planning in permission to miss the odd day by accident but I will put a tick on the calendar on the days I achieve it.

It’s a difficult process finding movement that you love and to help you learn what you enjoy.

I will be running a 5-day January challenge that focuses on goal setting and movement for wellbeing. If you would like to find out more or jump on board early click here (Insert link to –

I’d love to help you make positive changes for 2021.

Sara McDonnell

Leave a Comment