While you may be happily munching on Christmas cookies next week, January 1st is coming quickly. Will you be setting realistic health goals to work towards next year? With the new year comes a renewed determination among many people to eat more vegetables, exercise more, stop smoking, or give up sweets. Health goals seem to pop up every January but by April we have slid back into our bad habits.
When I was younger my father smoked. He went from smoking a pipe when I was very young to smoking cigarettes by the time I was in high school. I remember a collection of ashtrays all over the house and asking for my parents to please roll down the window in the car because I hated the smell of smoke. My mom has battled her weight for her entire life, never quite finding the magic formula to keep those pounds off for good. They would talk about ditching their bad habits on a regular basis but could never quite stick with their health goals to achieve success. It took years for my father to finally quit smoking and my mom is still battling her weight. Change is hard and sometimes we need a little assistance to achieve our health goals and finally overcome those bad habits.
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Setting Realistic Health Goals
The key to achieving your health goals in the new year is to make sure you are setting realistic health goals and even more important, to make sure you have the support you need to get healthy. Next year, I have several health goals that I would like to achieve. I need more exercise and really need to get a handle on some chronic pain issues. Blogging less and living more is high on my priority list. More time with my husband and kids and less time reading a book would also make life much more enjoyable. Life is short and I want to make sure I am living it to it’s fullest every single day. If you are setting health goals for yourself this year, keep these ideas in mind:
Make sure your health goals are realistic
Don’t set a goal of losing 100 pounds in 6 months…that is just a little unrealistic. Make smaller, short term goals that are easier to achieve. Maybe you can aim to lose 10 pounds in 2 months…then when you achieve THAT goal, set a new one!
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Keep a diary of your health goals
Sometimes seeing things in writing make your health goals more realistic. Maybe you want to stop smoking? Start a cigarette journal! Write down every time you smoked a cigarette that day. Add them up at the end of the day. Next week, try and make that number of cigarettes per day just one or two less. Telling yourself you are going to quit smoking cold turkey could just be too overwhelming to even consider.
Be prepared for setbacks
Some days are harder to deal with than others. If you smoke when you are stressed and you have a bad day at work, you may find you smoke a few too many cigarettes that day. Kids have the flu and there is an ice storm? You may not be able to get out of the house to go to the gym that day. Bad days happen and you can’t let that wear down your resolve. Just aim to make TOMORROW better than today in terms of achieving your health goals. You are looking for long term changes in behavior so one bad day isn’t going to ruin you!
Enlist a friend
When setting realistic health goals, it is always easier to achieve them f you have a buddy to work with. Find a friend who wants to exercise more with you and join a gym together. Call each other! Is your friend lounging on the couch when they should be on the treadmill? Guilt them into getting up and working out with you. Then, when YOUR butt is on the couch watching the latest reality TV show your friend will call you and return that guilt trip to get you moving, too!
Know where to turn to for help
Sometimes, no matter what our health goals are, we may not be able to achieve them by ourselves. Maybe your health goal for the new year is to get a handle on your depression. If you can’t overcome that alone then it’s time to start seeing a therapist. Maybe you need to reach out to a nutritionist to help you understand how to eat healthier. Or taking cooking classes so you can learn how to cook health food at home. Maybe you just can’t kick that smoking habit without the help of patches or a prescription from your doctor. Not all health goals are easy to achieve by ourselves and there is nothing wrong with looking for professional help!
New Years is the perfect time to focus on a new, improved you. Don’t worry about what someone else’s health goals are for the new year. Set a goal that is right for YOU and work to achieve that. Whether you are interested in weight loss, healthy eating, exercise, or mental health, try focusing on YOU in the coming weeks and make 2017 a great year!
Are YOU setting realistic health goals for next year?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.