Ten tips to make your health goals stick
Health and wellness come top of most of the New Year’s resolutions. But as the year progresses, these resolutions can be difficult to follow through. Here is how to avoid falling off track, writes EVELYN MAKENA
1. Be specific
While making healthy goals, considering the ‘SMART’ acronym will go a long way in helping you achieve them.
‘SMART’ stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound. A specific goal clearly outlines the intended results and the plan of action to take to get there.
Eating a balanced diet and drinking more water are both great health resolutions. The disadvantage of the two is that they are too general and provide no plan on how to achieve them.
To succeed in eating better, make a specific target by, for example, resolving to not delay or skip meals.
2. Make the resolution measurable
When setting health goals, you need to define a way of measuring and tracking the progress.
Goals that are vague will make it difficult to assess whether your plan of action is working or not.
Listing a resolution that states ‘to be healthy in 2020’, is for example broad and vague.
However, a resolution that is more specific such as ‘exercise every 20 minutes each day’ is easy to follow and measure.
3. Be realistic
Let us face it; resolving to climb a mountain will not be possible if you are not comfortable going up a flight of stairs.
Unrealistic goals set us up for failure. When your goals are too ambitious it is easy to get discouraged and not stick with them.
To begin with, set small and short-term goals and once you achieve them, you can gradually progress to bigger targets.
This way, you are not likely to feel overwhelmed by making big adjustments all at once.
4. Make the goal current
Avoid resolutions that have no set time limit. Setting one big goal to be achieved at an undefined time in the future may derail your ability to track the progress.
Making your goals short-term can help you gain momentum to achieve bigger targets in future. Having smaller goals whose progress is assessed in a week or month is more practical than having one big goal to be achieved in a year.
For instance, if your goal to lose 10kgs of body weight by the end of the year, break that down into smaller goals to be realised within a week or month.
5. Allow yourself to fail
Achieving a goal should not be a do or die affair. Even though your goals are important, do not take it too personally if you fail to reach them.
It is never that serious. You will miss on your targets occasionally, but do not get discouraged. Missing on your exercise routine or occasionally overindulging on fast foods should not be a reason to give up.
Be more patient with yourself. Avoiding the shame that comes with such slip-ups gives you a higher chance of succeeding.
6. Reward yourself
A little motivation goes a long way in helping you achieve your health goals. A treat such as going for a movie or getting a massage will make you feel good and keep you on track.
Rewards motivate you to achieve even bigger goals. These rewards do not, however, mean going back to the habits you are trying to get rid of.
Rewarding yourself with fast foods when you are trying to cut on weight will eventually prove to be counterproductive.
7. Walk with like-minded people
Surrounding yourself with a support system that cheers you on plays a big role in ensuring your success.
Better still, get the support of people that are pursuing similar goals. If your goal is to have daily morning workouts, get exercise companion(s).
They will help you stay committed and motivated to keep going. In case you get sidetracked on your goal, your companion will help you get back on track.
It will also be helpful to enlist the help of a professional such as a nutritionist, fitness trainer or an athlete, based on the health goal you are pursuing.
8. Make it public
Making your goals public to friends or family increases the level of accountability.
The people who are aware of what you are working towards will keep you on your toes just in case you backslide. If you are trying to stay fit, joining a gym can really help.
Whatever health resolution you make, have an accountability partner to help you stick to your commitment. It may be a bit uncomfortable having someone watching you, but it’s worthwhile.
9. Do not give up too easily
Every failure and setback is also part of the success. Achieving your goal is a journey that may not always turn out the way you envisioned it.
There may be unanticipated challenges, but with every step, you are drawing closer to your goals. Do not get discouraged when you do not lose some kilogrammes after weeks of exercising.
Instead, focus on the other health benefits of regular exercise. Besides, this may be a great time to slow down and assess what is working and what’s not.
10. Create an environment for success
If you purpose to limit the amount of fast foods you consume and hang around joints that offer the same, it will be difficult to stay disciplined.
Replace the junk food with vegetables and fruits and have them within your reach. Likewise, if your goal is to cut down on sugar, keep sugary foodstuff out of reach.
Create an environment that supports your intended goal and new habits. You may also need to change your social habits.
For instance, if you are trying to cut back on alcohol, hang out with friends in a restaurant instead of in a bar.