Saturday, February 8, 2014

Setting Goals for Health: A Long-Term Plan

by A. Grano
While many people vow to “ start the year off right” by setting resolutions, this really isn’t the best approach for long-term wellness. Whether you began 2011 with this plan or are just beginning to implement your New Year’s resolutions now (better late than never!), check out some of the most common pitfalls many people face when approaching their health goals, and some tips for lasting success!
Pitfall #1:  Doing too much too soon
Many action plans for improving health- whether they are related to exercise, dieting, etc. – have the same shortcoming in common that leads to failure: they don’t include a warm-up.  Just like running a marathon, approaching your finish line should not be a sprint from the start but rather a steady pace, with a gradual progression that begins with training.
Tips for Overcoming Pitfall #1:
  • Choose realistic, highly specific, measurable goals. Setting goals should help improve your health, not lead to stress!
  • Limit the number of goals you take on. Start with 1-2 short-term and 1-2 long-term.
  • Break down your goals to make them less intimidating by creating an outline of steps to take.  Tailor it to your needs, not anyone else’s.
Pitfall #2: Feeling easily discouraged
By setting realistic, obtainable goals, you should be on your way to success. However, don’t let a slip up make you fall off track completely. Get back to exercising (and maybe work out a little longer) after a carb-fest Friday night dinner, but don’t let yourself take the whole weekend to indulge and ruin all your previous weight loss efforts .
Tips for Overcoming Pitfall #2:
  • Keep a journal to record and track progress.
  • Reward yourself with each milestone.
  • Ask friends and family members for help and support when needed.
  • Give it time. Remember, habits are formed after 21 days!
Pitfall #3: Failing to start at all
No matter what your goal is, even a molehill can seem like a mountain when the challenge has been perpetually put off.  Determine what factors are holding you back – anxiety and fear? Lack of time?  Work on resolving those first to move forward.
The best motivation comes from within, so don’t allow yourself to fall into the “I can’t do it” mindset any longer. Instead, tackle your goals with baby steps and remind yourself that any progress is still progress, and every little bit helps to get you closer to your goal!
Tips for Overcoming Pitfall #3:
  • Give yourself a timeline to help deter excuses.
  • Embrace change, even if that means your plan is altered.