Tips, tricks and resources to help you stay on track this year … for real.
Story: Victoria Schlabig
Getting discouraged: Don’t let one bad day ruin your progress. As working people or parents, most of us have full schedules. Even infrequent occurrences like a road trip or a conference can be detrimental to your progress. If you’re on a road trip, you’re often filling up on snacks all day and staying idle. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. However, try to pack healthier snacks like fruit or veggies with hummus instead of chips and cookies. Try to walk and stretch your legs when you stop to use the bathroom.
Parties/vacations: Deferring from your daily routine can be debilitating for some people on their journey. It may not be too hard to eat healthy when you’re cooking at home or to get to the gym after work, but social events can throw off your daily routine. If you have a function to get to after work, consider hitting the gym in the morning. However, remember that one or two days doesn’t have to ruin your progress. If you’re on vacation, consider using the gym if your hotel has one, working out with what you have or just taking a walk on the beach. On vacation, most people eat out more than they do at home, so try picking healthier menu items and allow yourself to snack at parties. Completely restricting yourself can lead to failure later. It’s fine to take a day off as long as you don’t say, “Well, I ate bad yesterday so I might as well start again Monday.” Putting off diets is one of the easiest ways that people give up on goals completely. Allow yourself to have some enjoyment during social events, just make sure to remain on track when you’re back to a normal day.
Don’t overextend yourself: You should make your goals big enough so they’re not too easy, but not so difficult that you’re unable to actually reach them. For example, if you previously never worked out or did it rarely, don’t make your goal to work out five times a week. If you do this, you will quickly burn out and are more likely to abandon your goal. Start small and make your goal to work out two or three times a week, along with one light activity like yoga or a short walk twice a week. Gradually, as you get stronger and healthier, you’ll be able to increase that workout time.
Set SMART goals
* Example of a SMART goal: “I will run a 5K race within six months of training.”
- Specific: Well defined and detailed, clear and unambiguous.
- Measurable: Specific criteria that measure your progress toward the achievement of the goal; easy to determine whether the goal was accomplished.
- Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve, something you can accomplish with hard work as opposed to something you can accomplish with a miracle. Don’t set goals that are way out of reach for your current lifestyle.
- Realistic: Within reach, realistic and relevant to your life purpose. Make sure the goal is relevant to your overall objective and that will help you progress toward achieving it.
- Timely:Have a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date. The purpose is to create urgency, so set a deadline for when you’d like to achieve your goal.
- Specific: The objective to run a 5K is clear and concise.
- Measurable:Success in progression toward running the 5K can be measured by the amount of training the goal-setter is doing to prepare.
- Achievable:The goal-setter is making strides toward getting closer to having the strength and stamina to run the 5K.
- Realistic:The goal-setter is taking rational steps toward getting closer to the 5K and is giving themselves an adequate amount of time to prepare.
- Timely: There is a set deadline for when the goal-setter wants to complete the goal: six months from when the goal was set.
Many apps for health can be extremely helpful for people who have no idea what they’re putting in their bodies, how effective their workouts are or whether they’re doing the right type of workout for their body type or goals.
Apple Watch, Fitbit:These track distance walked/ran/biked, calculate calories burned, track how much sleep you are getting and what kind of sleep it is based on your heart rate.
Meal-tracking apps can teach you what you’re putting into your body, not just in terms of calories but also which nutrients you are receiving or not receiving. They can inform you of the correct amount of calories you should be eating daily for your age, height, gender and weight-loss goals. Workout apps give guided workouts or track your steps and calories burned.
Lose It, Noom, MyFitnessPal: These help track your calorie and nutrient intake. The apps have most foods listed in them already, including nutritional value and calories per serving. You input your height, weight, gender, weight-loss goals and deadlines, and the app will calculate your daily calorie intake. Throughout the day, you input your meals, snacks and workouts, and the app will calculate your calorie intake and outtake.
Maintaining goals/staying motivated
- Concentrate on one to three goals: If you have trouble sticking to the goals you set, you may be spreading yourself too thin. Try sticking with just a few goals on which you can focus all of your energy.
- Track milestones: If your goal can be measured, use something to track when you hit milestones that get you closer to your end goal. If we look at the 5K example, your first milestone may be running 1 mile. Using milestones to create smaller goals like this can make the overall goal seem less intimidating, and you will be less likely to give up.
- Use an accountability partner:Having a friend help you stay accountable for your progress can help if you generally lack motivation or your goal is something you struggle with. Try to find a person who doesn’t have the same bad habits as you. If a friend has a hard time getting to the gym, maybe ask a friend who goes regularly instead to keep you accountable for going as well.
- Keep a journal of your progress: As you achieve your smaller goals, think about starting a journal to document how you feel as you accomplish each task. If you’re starting to feel lazy, turn back and read how good it felt to hit that first milestone. You’ll more than likely want to experience that high again.
- Use a rewards system: If you have a hard time motivating yourself, create a rewards system that will make you want to do the things you don’t like to do. If your problem is getting yourself to the gym after a long day at work, don’t allow yourself to watch your favorite show until you’ve completed your scheduled workout. Make sure to not use rewards that will reverse your progress. If you go run at the gym, don’t reward yourself by skipping the next three days of workouts.
- Multitask:Multitasking tends to help you forget about what you’re doing. If running feels torturous to you or you find yourself wanting to stop simply because you’re bored, listen to music while you run, or read a book or watch a show when you’re on the treadmill. You’ll have some enjoyment while you’re doing something you hate, and it may take your mind off the burning sensation in your legs.
- Use mantras: Find some phrases that motivate you and put them where you’ll see them every day: on your mirror, on the fridge or on your desk. Simply seeing them every day is an easy way to keep your goals on your mind.
- Create a vision board: Vision boards make you really think about your future goals and plans for yourself. If you’re someone who has a lot of good ideas, or even a lot of goals that you have been putting off, getting your ideas on paper and on something you can hang up in your house every day will motivate you to make things happen. Just creating the board will allow you to narrow down the ideas you have and make them tangible, and they’re also fun to make! You can add pictures from magazines that represent your body or fitness goals, career goals, bucket list items such as places you want to travel or items, like a swimming pool, that you want to afford someday.
- Stay positive: So many successful people failed many times before they became the famous people they are today. For example, author Stephen King was rejected by 30 publishers before finally publishing “Carrie” at just 26 years old. Lady Gaga’s classmates in college made a Facebook page saying she’d never be famous. Walt Disney was told he would never be able to make a mouse famous, and now Mickey is the most famous character in the world. In simpler terms: try, try, try again!
Four pillars of Healthy Living
Healthy Living magazine preaches that our health is based on four main parts of ourselves: mind, body, spirit and finance. These four pillars all coincide with health and have mutual effects on each other. Focusing on all four parts of your health creates a balanced lifestyle and will help you feel better overall. Remember that we are designed in a cellular way and are meant to grow, to learn and to do better until we die. In sixth-grade biology class, most of us learned that our bodies are made of cells and these cells are constantly dying, and new ones are being created every day. Think of your life like this as well; as the physical makeup of your body changes and grows, so will your mental health, spirituality and financial status. As situations change, change your plan and preferred outcome. And, most importantly, remember that you’re never too old to start making goals!