Things NOT to Do This Year to Accomplish Your Health Goals
I’ll admit, I’m technically late on my New Year’s resolutions post (good thing scheduled blogging isn’t one of my goals). Plus one of my things not to do this year is be too hard on myself–so, I’ll start the year off right and forgive myself (whew, that feels good). And, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably just now nailing down what you would like to accomplish this year too.
The reason why so many great goals cease to exist after the first few months of the year is not because the goal was too lofty or a lack of willpower. We usually come up with great goals, like training for a half marathon or improving our diet, with the best intentions to succeed, but we don’t always carve out the time necessary to ensure success. For example, if your goal is to eat less processed foods, then you’re going to have to cook more–plain and simple. You’ll need to devote a few hours on one of your days off for meal planning, and then either cook meals in bulk or allow yourself more time in the evening to prepare meals. The saying, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail” sums the concept up perfectly. If you don’t plan out how you’ll eat a healthy lunch at work, even if you want to eat healthy, you will end up grabbing food at the nearest fast food joint. Taking the time to map out how you can make time to accomplish your goals is just as important as the goal itself.
Not only is planning key to successful goals; it’s important to have the right mindset. So, these are a few things NOT to do this year that will help you reach your health goals:
Expect perfection: Habits do not form overnight. If your goal was to go to the gym five times a week, when you went an average of zero times in the last six months, you probably won’t be able to make that giant change immediately. Acts become habits by repetition; the more you get to the gym, the more you will continue to go. But expecting that you’ll form a habit in one week–not going to happen. If the first month you made it to the gym 10 times, and the next month 12, you are working towards your goal successfully.
Be hard on yourself: If you miss your workout today, you can go tomorrow. You probably won’t turn into a big lazy sloth just because you missed your speed workout this morning. You don’t want to turn not going to the gym into your new habit, but missing one day doesn’t mean you won’t improve your strength that month.
Over-scrutinize the scale: The scale is not your health tell-all. Food, sleep, stress, and exercise are way better for determining your overall health. If you are eating mostly whole foods in appropriate portions, and exercising regularly, your body is changing and you should be losing fat. Sometimes when you build muscle, weight loss appears to plateau or even increase, but it’s not always fat gain! Checking your weight occasionally can be a good thing to do, but it should never send you throwing in the towel on your healthy habits.
Feel guilty: There are no BAD foods. You can have an overall poor or healthy diet, but a healthy diet can still include those not-so-healthy foods occasionally. If you eat a cookie, please ENJOY it, and move on. Eating a delicious cookie doesn’t mean you won’t lose weight. It’s eating a half dozen cookies out of guilt that will mess with your goals. When you remove the guilt, you remove that desire to overdo the portion size, because you no longer feel like you messed everything up.
New habits are hard, and they require planning and commitment. It’s okay if you’re not ready to start training for a half marathon, or don’t want to give up eating lunch out. But there’s always something small you can change to improve your health, even if it’s adding a piece of fruit to your afternoon snack!
My health goals for the year:
- Eat more vegetables for snacks–my new dehydrator is ready for vegetable chips
- Get ACSM personal trainer certified
- Continue my five times per week weight training program to ultimately drop 5% body fat
- Run a half marathon at a 9:00 min/mile pace (that’s fast for me)
What are you health goals for the year? And more importantly, how are you making the time to make them possible?