New Year, Old You? How to Achieve Your Health Goals

It’s that time of year again: We reminisce over the good and bad moments of the past 365 days, and we plan for a better year and a better future. So, we take a pen and paper and dot down what goals we want to achieve. “I want to be healthier!” “I want to work out at the gym more!” “I want to be a happier person! New year, new me!” You sign up for that Orangetheory gym membership, you purchase some weight loss meals and shakes from Nutrisystem, and you make some headway in your goals. Until you skip a day at the gym. Or eat a slice of cheesecake for dessert at a restaurant. “Oh man, I blew it! I’ll just start all over next year.” And the cycle continues. Photo by?Polina Kovaleva?from?Pexels

New Year, Same You?

Does this scenario sound familiar? Americans create bold plans to be better physically or emotionally, but we usually give them up after the first few weeks. An article from two years ago shared that less than a quarter of people commits to their goals after a month, and 8% of people accomplish their new years’ resolutions. Two major problems occur with setting grand resolutions:
  1. They are usually vague and general. “Eat healthier”. “Lose weight”. “Get outside more”. They don’t lead to actual change if you don’t know what being healthier or active means.
  2. Resolutions usually rely on willpower, how much the person is willing to achieve them. Days will come where you become tired, lack motivation, or want to give up.
So, how can we create lasting change?

Creating SMART Goals

To ensure that you create a better “you” in 2021, your goals must be S.M.A.R.T.
This is the portion where you describe what the goal is. What do you want to accomplish? Here, you define if the goal is to improve personal nutrition, physical activity, mental health, or another aspect of your life.
“How much?” “How many?” Ask these questions when creating a measurable goal, because having a way to track your progress makes it easier to follow them.
Your goals should be goals that can be achieved within your abilities. Setting up goals that you won’t attain can lead to disappointment. Be sure to ask these questions when building a goal that’s attainable: “How can I accomplish these goals?” “What are some things I need to make this goal possible?”
Building a relevant goal is all about how you are feeling in a current situation. Here is where you decide “why” you want to practice this goal. Maybe you have issues with depression or anxiety so you want to improve your mental health, or you had health issues such as diabetes so you want to eat healthier.
Goals must have a strict deadline. Whether it is within a few days, weeks, or months, there has to be a time element so you can track your progress easily. It also takes into account what actions you’ll be doing within a day, week, or month to achieve those goals.

Putting it All Together

Now that you know the basics of building S.M.A.R.T goals, here are four practical steps on building your wellness goals:
  1. Choose a relevant outcome
  2. Pick attainable actions to practice daily or weekly
  3. Outline specific actions to do
  4. Make a deadline for your goals
Say you want to lose 20 pounds within 3 months. Here’s an example of a SMART goal revolved around that outcome: “Lose 2 pounds per week over the course of 12 weeks by decreasing caloric intake by at least 500 calories per day.”   Here is where you see the four steps in action:   “Lose 2 pounds (relevant outcome) per week over the course of 12 weeks (make a deadline – 12 weeks later) by decreasing caloric intake (specific action) by at least 500 calories per day (attainable action).”

A Better You

You don’t need a new week, new month, or new year to improve yourself. Creating a resolution at the beginning of 2021 does feel fresh; there is a clean slate present. But our new lives don’t start the second the clock turns midnight on January 1st. Your better life starts now.