How to Stick with Your Health Goals
Goal setting has been part of my yearly routine since my youth. It was the family tradition to sit down on New Year’s Eve and discuss last year’s goals. It was a contest to see who achieved the highest percentage of their goals. We would write new goals for the new year and also write a 1 to 2 page history recapping what happened during the year. I’ve continued to set goals, intentions, and find more efficient ways to track my goals, and better ways to guarantee I achieve them as I’ve gotten older. Since today is Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day, I thought it would be the perfect time to give you my tips and tricks to help you stick with your health goals beyond today and throughout the rest of the year.
How to Write Realistic and Attainable Goals
First up is writing achievable goals. Most people want to do things like exercise five days a week for thirty minutes, eat clean consistently, get fit, lose weight, and go to bed early all the time. But, writing your goal that way sets you up for failure. It is either not clearly defined, or it is too stringent and hard to fit into real life.
Write Both Short Term and Long Term Goals
First I define my big dreams. What would I really love to see happen in the next year? These can be total pipe dreams, or small wishes. Anything and everything is included. Sometimes the list is long and that is okay. From that list I pick what matters the most to me, and what I want to see happen the very most. Weed out the nice ideas that you don’t feel passionate enough about to be committed. Then I analyze the ones that I really want to focus on. Ask yourself questions like…
- “How can I make this achievable?”
- “How can I word this goal to make it feel smaller?”
- “How can I break this up into smaller goals?”
- “How can I track this to make it fun throughout the year?”
If you want to lose 52 lbs. Don’t write it that way. Your brain will get discouraged. Fifty-two pounds is a lot. Instead write, “I will lose 1 pound per week this year.” If you get ahead of your schedule, then great you will feel fantastic about it and it will further motivate you. Not to mention that losing one pound feels like a very attainable goal. Wording a goal like this makes it both feel small and achievable. It also breaks it up into a smaller one week goals.
Track Your Progress
Tracking where you are at can be done in many ways. You can fill a jar with pom-poms for every day you eat right. You can create visuals on paper. I use a bullet journal to track my goals. Bullet journals are a way of combining your calendar, journal, planner, and more into one easily accessible place. So when I want to track how I’m doing on my January goal to declutter. I draw a picture of a garbage can and fill in a box every time I clean out an item of clutter. Visuals like this are also great for kids. They are much more motivated when they get to see their progress. You can also use other kinds of progress charts like, sticker charts, or moving something along a path, anything that sparks your interest.
Daily Visual Reminders
If you don’t write down your goals they are just wishes. Likewise, if you don’t write down your goals and put them someplace that you will see and look at them everyday then those goals are also just wishes. Again this can be as simple or fancy as you chose. It just needs to keep you inspired. It can be a simple list printed and put by your mirror so you can read it as you brush your teeth each day, or it could be set up as the screen on your phone or computer. It can be done as a vision board with lots of images and words. Again, I keep mine in my bullet journal. My goals are written so I can track things that I want to do once a month and some have visual sketches for quick glance reminders and motivation.
Define Your Why
When defining your why don’t hold back. Get a paper and brain dump everything that comes to mind for why you want to achieve your goal. The more reasons you have the more motivated you will be. You are basically painting the perfect picture to explain why this matters so much to you, what it could do for your future, how it can affect your health, happiness, and overall life, how it affects those you love. Write it all done. Then sum it up into pretty bullet points and refer to it when you lose motivation. Forgetting what your why is, is as bad as forgetting the goal all together. Without a why there is no motivation to achieve that goal.
Here’s an example:
The goal is to lose 20 pounds.
The why could be:
- To increase confidence.
- To enjoy shopping again.
- To help with sleep quality.
- To reduce moodiness.
- To be physically capable of running and playing with your kids.
- To have a better sex life.
- To help balance hormones.
- To fit into your favorite jeans… or feel comfortable in something other than yoga pants.
- To be confident in a bikini
This list could be much longer depending on your personal reasons why.
Deadlines are a Must
Well written goals come with deadlines. If you are a procrastinator in any way shape or form (most of us are), then don’t forget this necessary tidbit. Neglecting to add a deadline let’s you perpetually think you can make it happen later, and makes your goal nothing more than a wish. Do it today. Don’t wait. If it is important enough for you to set it as a goal it is important enough to make the daily, and weekly priority list.
Accountability is a powerful way to stick with your goals. Find a friend that wants to join you, challenge your spouse to a contest, or join a health bet to make some extra cash along the way.
Most health goals include the necessity and desire for a healthier diet. Managing life and healthy meals is hard. There are lots of tools to help with this but one of my favorite is establishing the habit of meal planning. My favorite way to meal plan is with Real Plans. Seriously though, you should at very least check it out because its easy, healthy, and there are so many delicious options.
It’s easy to give up on goals, and especially ones related to health when we get too stressed. Stress triggers people to turn to food addiction, soda addiction, alcohol addiction, and Netflix addiction very easily. I can’t tell you what the number one reason is that people quit trying only a couple of weeks into the year, but I would be willing to bet the stress is a HUGE factor.
There are enough things that make achieving goals hard without worrying about stress contributing to it so let’s learn some tips that will keep you from relapsing into old comfort habits.
Love on Your Adrenals
When difficulties in life hit, whip up a quick adrenal cocktail. Adrenal Cocktails give the body much-needed potassium, vitamin C, and sodium that are rapidly used up when under stress… which most of us are nearly everyday. It’s best to take adrenal cocktails twice a day on an empty stomach, at 10 and 2. I use this vitamin C. It is a whole food C which is important. Ascorbic acid doesn’t do the trick. I also use pink Himalayan sea salt for sodium.
How to make an adrenal cocktail:
1/2 C. fresh squeezed orange juice or vitamin C powder
1/4 tsp. Sea salt
1/4 tsp. Cream of tartar
Soak up Some Magnesium
Magnesium is a key element in nearly all of the chemical processes in the body. In other words you need it for mental stability, and to have the capacity to navigate life at your best when stressful situation land in your lap. The best way to get magnesium is through the skin. My favorite is to take a bath with 2 cups baking soda, 1 cup Epsom salt, and 2 tablespoons of borax. This will help you both detox and absorb needed minerals. Foot soaks also work well.
Meditation allows the mind and body to relax, ponder, and let go of life stress. It helps you come to rational conclusions and recenter and refocus on what is really important in your life. Meditation practices can include prayer, quietly sitting in the woods, writing in a journal, yoga and much more. Find what works for you. The key isn’t in what you chose to do for meditation but that you actually do it every day.
Ditch the Negative Self Talk
There are enough people in this world willing to put you down, devalue you, neglect you, and spew negativity everywhere they go. You don’t need one of those people to be your constant companion and the voice inside your head. If this is a major struggle for you I recommend trying daily affirmations.