By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
It can appear to some that living a healthy lifestyle is unobtainable. It might seem too overwhelming to even start!
But if you desire to live healthy and see the benefits for yourself, setting goals is the first step to success. Without realistic goals and a plan, it is difficult to be successful at anything. Becoming healthy is no different.
I always say, “Start somewhere.” It may be small goals at first, such as taking out sugary drinks, but once you have mastered that for a few weeks, add another goal. It is much like anything else we want to obtain. Where do you want to see yourself and how much time are you setting aside to obtain the goal?
A few suggestions about setting health goals:
1. Identify specific goals:
There are different reasons why people want to change their lifestyles to healthier ones. For some, it might be to improve their body image. Others might want to raise their self-esteem. Still others want to improve their general wellbeing.
Most experts would advise you to base your goals around one of the three reasons mentioned above. After you have determined your reasons, you can break your goals down into smaller, measureable pieces.
For example, if you want to improve your body image, you might begin by trying to lose 10 percent of your total body weight. It might seem like a small amount, but even a few pounds of weight loss will result in looking and feeling better.
It is also amazing how even a 10 percent weight loss can result in significant health improvements, such as lowering blood pressure and lower fasting blood sugar. It also, in turn, helps you continue in your pursuit of health by increasing your energy level.
2. Measure your goals:
You will need to set a measurement by which you can identify whether you are meeting your goal or not. It cannot be solely based on how you feel. It can be pounds lost in a week, number of sugary drinks you consume or number of steps you take per day. A great trend to get people moving is making sure you walk 10,000 steps per day.
3. Set a timetable:
How much time will this take? How often will you work toward accomplishing your goals? For instance, if you would like to increase your exercise, set a timetable and commit to two days per week for the next three weeks. After three weeks, increase the target to three days per week.
4. Be realistic:
Do not set your initial goals so high that they are impossible to obtain. For instance, do not say you’re going to lose 50 pounds in one month and exercise six days per week. Most people will get discouraged by the lack of progress and fall back into old habits. Instead, set a goal to lose two pounds per week and walk 10,000 steps a minimum of four days per week.
Your goal also needs to be sustainable over time. For instance, you will not maintain a lifestyle in which you only eat 500 calories per day. You can maintain a lifestyle in which you exercise regularly, avoid processed foods and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
5. Choose an accountability partner:
It is always important to have someone in your court whom you can trust to help you through those rough times (and there will be some!). Choose someone who can keep you accountable and on track.
6. Take the time to revisit your goals, especially if they aren’t met:
Determine why the goal wasn’t met. Was it lack of motivation, lack of time, lack of resources? Or was the goal set too high?
It is not easy to change lifestyle, but it can be done. Start somewhere.