We all have them. What are your health goals for 2017? How will you accomplish them?
The first day of the first month of a new year invites us to set goals for the new year. Everyone wants good health, right? So, most people wish for health in the New Year. But we must do more than wish. Our health, our lives, are in our own hands. Let 2017 be the year of accountability. Take control of your health.
Starting point. The first step in the process is to evaluate your current situation regarding your health and then ask yourself what you really want to achieve.
You can define your starting point by asking yourself:
- What are your current health statistics – height, weight, Body Mass Index, blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood glucose, etc – how do these compare with normal measurements?
- Do you exercise? How often and for how long?
- Do you get enough sleep? Do you feel tired or do you have lots of energy?
- What is your fitness level?
- Do you have any bad eating habits – are you addicted to a particular food or type of food? Are you an ‘emotional’ eater? Do you eat enough?
- Do you have any ailments that affect your health and wellbeing? Do you always seem to be run-down or picking up the latest cold or flu in town?
- Do you often feel stressed?
- Do you have any other bad habits that affect your well being – smoking? Alcoholism? Drugs?
Set goals. Set SMART goals. Simply saying that you want to lose weight, eat healthy, or stop smoking will likely result in failure.
Set a specific goal.A goal needs to be as specific as possible so you can work toward it and achieve it. “Lose weight” or “Be Healthy” as a goal is too vague. What exactly do you want to achieve and how? Why do you want to do it? Do you want to feel better, have more energy, be happier, live longer?
Make goals measurable. If you don’ make your goal measurable, you don’t know when you’ve reached it. How much weight do you want to lose? What do you want your blood pressure to be? What about your cholesterol levels? How often should you exercise? Track your progress, write it down and celebrate the small successes along the way.
Be accountable. Keep a journal. Track your progress — your weight, your workouts, your food intake, how many cigarettes or drinks you had, your stress levels. There are many health apps out there that can be very helpful. Share your goals with a friend who can help keep you on track.
Set a realistic goal. Make it challenging yet not too overwhelming. Make it realistic for you based on your life, your schedule, your other commitments.
Set a timeframe. Timeframes should also be realistic. Don’t expect to lose 20 pounds in one month. Don’t expect to quit smoking cold turkey (although possible).
- Allow yourself 1 week per kg (2 lbs) of weight you want to lose.
- Allow yourself 3 months to get in to peak physical fitness.
- Allow yourself at least 6 weeks to quit a habit like smoking, and maybe even longer for alcohol and drug dependency.
It may take up to 12 months to start ‘feeling’ healthy and energetic or overcome some other particular health ailments, again depending on your starting point. So hang in there! It is worth it.
Key to whatever your health goal is…eat mostly fruits and vegetables, get plenty of sleep (7-8 hours a night), exercise regularly and most importantly have compassion for yourself. Our goals are long-term and our good intentions are how we approach them everyday. Acknowledge that there will be days off track and celebrate the good days.