The Pros and Cons-Figuring Out Your "Why"
This is a big title for a section that is about making little changes, isn’t it?
I am figuring out what I want my life to look like and then putting the wheels in motion to attain my goals. This includes my approach to health and establishing new routines because my old health routines do not serve me well.
Since a knee injury 4 ½ years ago, I have struggled with being as fit as I envision my best self.
Who knew that bumping that knee one too many times would evoke a cycle of being able to do what I love physically to being physically restricted and icing the sucker on and off, to hobbling around for days on end and convincing myself that I can now predict the weather thanks to my patella and her supporting cast.
All that being said, there are things I can do better to reach my fitness goals. But what are the advantages of making these changes? I mean, there are some advantages to not changing, because I am still repeating patterns that are not to my long-term advantage.
The Pros and Cons of It
The simple task of creating a pro and con list is a great way to look at your goal. This tried and true favorite for organizing your thoughts is still a really effective way to look at your reality at this moment and evaluate your next action (or inaction).
The key is to not overwhelm yourself by taking on a broad goal.
For example, I want a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI doesn’t measure your body fat but is used for a general classification of weight falling into four categories: underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obesity.
There are many methods to measure body fat including skinfold measurement, which are more accurate than an online calculator. But, if you want to get a quick idea of where you fall, the CDC has a simple BMI calculator on their site under the Healthy Weight tab or enter:
So instead of saying in broad terms, “I want to lose weight.”, I narrow my goal of focusing on my BMI.
You may say, “Listen here lady, that means you want to lose weight.” Well yes, but I want to lose fat. Heck, I go up and down 4 pounds a week depending on when I weigh myself or what has been going on in my life.
A Pros and Cons list also helps you determine if the goal is right for you at this time.
Why make that change?
What is your reason? Will it get your closer to what you want in your life? What is your “why”?
If your goal matches your "why", use the pro and con list to see the benefits and challenges of working towards your goal.
Make It Measurable
A little data goes a long way. Focusing on my BMI will give me a starting number and checking my measurements, along with weight, will give me data to see if I am going in the direction I want.
Say your goal is to drink 2.5 liters of water a day, start by noting where you are now (baseline), and then write down how much you drink daily. I am not good at remembering how many cups of water I drink, so I invested in a fancy water bottle that filters the water and has the amount labeled. I know if I drink 3 of those a day, I have had my 3 liters and boom-done! So, my water goal is tracked by 3 little hash marks on a post-it or a note to myself on phone, or even mentally I can keep track if I had 3 bottles or not.
Make a Date with Yourself
While I am all for self-care this isn’t what I am talking about here. Pick a date to check in on your goal and make it far enough out to see results, but close enough to change course.
Listen, I am going to get discouraged if I don’t see results. Aren’t you? But I am going to check in with myself two Sundays from now to see what my measurements are and do a BMI calculator check to see if I am still in the same undesirable category.
Will I be at my goal in two weeks? Nope. But will I be able to see if the numbers have started to move in the direction I want? Maybe. Two weeks is not realistic to see a lot going on, but I may see something. I do want to make sure I am not going in the wrong direction of adding numbers to my measurements and weight.
So, I pick checking in every two weeks to see my progress. Ohhhh, I like that word…progress.
Now if you are working on the drinking enough water goal. You can see if you are meeting that goal by checking in daily, BUT, going back to not being discouraged I suggest looking at it weekly. Did your overall trend meet your goal? Well then, YOU are on your way to a great goal becoming a great habit.
Here are some tips for creating a Pros and Cons list:
-Write it down.
Whether you are using bullet points on a post-it, writing a dissertation length goal, or using your phone app, writing it down will solidify your thought. Refer to the photo below for a suggestion of how to fill out your list.
-The Pros Side-
What are the advantages of changing? Write down at least 2 positive consequences.
What are the advantages of not changing? Write down at least 2 positive consequences.
-The Cons Side-
What are two disadvantages of this change? Write down at least 2 negative consequences.
What are two disadvantages of not making this change? Write down at least 2 negative consequences.
Now, put the list somewhere where you can look at it or access it easily. Reminding yourself of the positive and negative consequences is a helpful way to keep you on track.
Check out the photo under our tab: Fit Tip of the Month to see an example of a simple pro/con list.
Author: Carolyna Bradford is a NASM CPT who enjoys the mountains and looks forward to some groovy road trips in the not too distant future.