How to Set -- and Keep -- Fitness Goals for the Final Quarter of the Year

A soldier cuts into a pumpkin pie during a Thanksgiving meal.
A soldier cuts into a pumpkin pie during a Thanksgiving meal at Camp Aachen on Grafenwohr Training Area, Germany, Nov. 22, 2018. (Army National Guard/Craig Norton)

Every New Year, people rush to make goals even use the term "resolution" that only exists in our lexicon for about two weeks. There are 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months in every year that we have been alive.

There are seven days in a week and none of them are "some day" or "one day". Make today Day One, not some day or one day. We all have the final quarter of the year to finish strong, and we have many challenges in front of us that can derail the even best-intentioned goal setter.

Here are some ways to make the months of October, November, December work best for you:

Make Today Day One

Today is the day you do something new. Start with adding a good habit. These can be as easy as drinking more water, walking 10 minutes before or after meals, or stretching before and after your day starts. As with any good habit we add, it is helpful to take away a bad habit. Link the two together for better results. Link dropping sugar drinks and drinking more water together, combine walking with purposefully eating less and stretching with adding an earlier bedtime. All of those are easy ways to add some movement to your day, and can be an easy guide to creating better habits and reducing bad habits.

How to Successfully Add Something New

Get on a program. If you are more into following programs, by all means find a workout book, workout group or gym classes.

Identify a goal. Want to crush that Turkey Trot 5k run? You have time to build up to a Thanksgiving Day run or walk event in your community.

Find friends and challenge each other. Get a group together to do your own Thanksgiving 5k. Practicing with people will help you stay honest and motivated to do something together. Plus, if you can burn a significant amount of calories on Thanksgiving Day, you will enjoy the feast and actually "earn your food." We have been doing a Thanksgiving Day workout with a large local group for over 20 years and it makes eating, sitting and watching football with family a nice guilt-free time.

Start lifting weights or doing calisthenics. If you only walk or just do cardio options in the gym that is great, but consider adding some muscle mass or at least firming up areas with some basic lifting circuits on machines in the gym or through calisthenics and dumbbells at home.

Move More, Eat Less

If there are two habits that many of us have it is that we do not move enough (or at all) and we eat too much -- period. Many find this saying a bit off-putting. But although it is a bit over-simplified as the calorie in, calorie out saying, it really does work.

But to make it work you have to be eating high quality food. Even if you have a perfectly healthy diet, you can still overeat. Eating less does not mean starving yourself. Instead, it means simply eat a little less than you currently are today.

For instance, I realized I was overeating when I was training significantly through the day (two hours) but still gaining weight. It was the second helpings of lean chicken or steak and snacking on peanut butter that was doing it to me.

All I did to eat less was take out the second helping of food at lunch and dinner and stopped eating a spoonful of peanut butter two to three times a day. The result was a near 700 calories decrease in food intake each day.

Result I lost one pound that week after having stalled on weight loss for a few weeks. I lost 12 lbs. over the next six weeks. I was moving plenty already -- I was just eating too much.

Sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves and make a food diary and actually figure out where the holes are in your diet.

Also, think about calories in and calories out. By simply eating smaller portions, you can cut your caloric intake significantly enough to see a pound or two weight loss every week. Use smaller plates, avoid second helpings and take food home from the restaurants when you eat out.

But if you also add in some movement to your day in the form of walking, jogging, calisthenics, weights or another activity, you will find the two combined efforts will yield significant results that are very noticeable in a few weeks. Check out the article The 1,000 Calories That Can Save You or Kill You.

Drink More Water but Less Sugary Drinks

Replace any sugary drink you have normally with water. You would be surprised that a 10 lbs. weight loss could occur just by eliminating all sugary drinks and replacing them with water.

How To Get Through the Find 6 Weeks

The final six weeks of the fall quarter can be some of the most challenging for any fitness and health goal setter.

How can you make sure you're set-up to handle it? Get Halloween candy out of the house as soon as possible. On Thanksgiving try not to gorge and overeat even as you travel to and from your relative's houses for multiple meals and football watching that day. The Christmas season includes all the rush, work stress, events, parties and countless other distractions through which you'll need to try to stay focused. For New Years? Well, that can be a party night or an early to bed night like any other night -- up to you.

Related: Proven Methods to Rebuild Fitness

To be honest, if you can get through these six weeks and not gain weight, it is a win if your actual goal is weight loss. The challenge here is having some discipline to say "no" to extra snacks all over the house and work, getting that early workout done, and adding some healthy choices to your day like more walking during work breaks or lunch time. These will help you start the New Year on an even better foundation and set even better goals for the next quarter of the New Year.

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