GUEST POST by Sheila Olson, fitsheila.com
How to Turn Health Goals Into Healthy Lifestyle Changes
We’ve all been there before: you wake up one day feeling motivated to make some big changes for your health. But all too often, the ambitious goals we make never really translate into any real action. The resulting feelings of disappointment can make you want to give up altogether on those goals. But with some simple tweaks, you can easily turn those healthy aspirations into long-term healthy habits. Here’s how:
Know Yourself and Your Motivations
When you set goals for your life, you really have to be thoughtful about your ability to achieve those goals. Your personality and current lifestyle choices can factor into your success, so give those elements careful thought. Realize that while the latest fad or health craze may work for your friends, it may not work best for you, and that’s okay! For example, if you’re an introvert that wants to become more active, pass on the social fitness trends, like barree or spinning, where you will be in contact with a big group of people. Instead, look for an activity like running or swimming that gives you time to introspect and reflect. Or you can enjoy the fresh air and clear your mind by going hiking (just make sure to take safety into account). On the other hand, if you’re an extrovert who tends to bail on the gym in favor of hanging out with friends, then signing up for those group classes could be a positive motivator to stay on track.
Identify a Clear Path Forward
Establishing a goal that aligns with your life and personality is only a portion of the work that goes into making long-term changes. Even the most thoughtful goals can fall flat when we don’t break them down into actionable steps. So after you’ve written out those smart goals, spend some time writing down some ways to achieve them.
When you’re crafting your action plan, start with small, short-term goals that will get you on the right track. Creating short-term goals that are easier to achieve can provide that self-esteem boost you need to keep powering forward with your healthy new routine. Short-term exercise goals can include spending an hour, or even a half hour, on your activity of choice twice a week. Want to eat healthier? Instead of restricting calories, try smaller changes like replacing simple carbs with complex carbs, or cut down on sugar. You can also take better care of your mental health because addressing depression can help with health and weight-loss goals.
Take that positive feeling you get from conquering those short-term goals and start building toward the bigger challenges. Those smaller steps are a much more sustainable path toward change. After all, you didn’t develop your unhealthy habits overnight, and you’re not going to change them overnight either, and that’s perfectly fine!
Learn From Your Failures
One of the hardest truths about changing your habits is this: You are going to feel like you’ve failed at some point. You may not reach your original goal in the time frame you’d hoped, but if you treat it as a complete failure, you will only feel discouraged and revert back to those old habits. Instead, allow for those small failures and know that you can move past them. So if you have that slice of cake at lunch, get back on track with a healthy dinner later. Don’t let one slip-up or treat turn into total defeat. Allow yourself to be human and to make those mistakes.
Make Progress, Not Perfection, Your Goal
Here’s the thing about your health: It really is a lifelong journey, not a short-term competition. If weight loss is your goal, you may lose 10 pounds that first month and only two pounds the next. But as long as you are staying on track with your habits and working hard, even those small successes should make you feel proud.
Dreaming about being healthier can be fun, but actually changing your habits to be healthier is even better. So if you really want to turn those dreams into action, sit down and come up with a plan, and know that it will take some real work to reach your goals. You can totally do this!
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