Hopefully, over the course of the last newsletters, you have done several things. One, you have assessed where you are health wise. Two, you have made health-related goals to get to where you want to be. The next step is creating a health plan to get there.
Before creating your health plan, I can’t stress how important it is to be realistic with your health goals enough. Your goals should be changes that can be sustained and maintained over time. Losing 20 pounds in one month is problematic, especially if you gain 25 pounds back when you resume your normal habits.
So please be realistic. This is true whether your goal is to lose weight, to drink more water, to sleep more, to exercise more, or to eat more fruits and vegetables. Doing a complete overhaul all at once is overwhelming. Perhaps start with one or two areas and add from there.
When dealing with health goals, keeping a record of activity could be very helpful. It does not have to be complicated or fancy. It could simply be a journal where you record aspects of your health from what you ate to how long you slept to how many glasses of water you drank.
For my job, I had to make health goals and record my progress. I created a very simple Excel spreadsheet that I printed, and I now manually track my progress. My goals are to drink eight glasses of water a day and to sleep eight hours each night. We have to do the goal at least three days a week for eight weeks straight with the hope that the changes become habits.
Step one is figuring out where you are going.
The aim should be overall health. For example, let’s say your goals are to exercise more and to eat more fruits and vegetables. You could figure out a workout routine that works with your lifestyle and schedule. In your planning, determine what will work best for you. For example, if you have children who play sports, you could decide to plan your workout during a time when they will be at practice. Or perhaps it is most convenient to use half of your lunch hour for exercising.
On the nutritional end, you could plan to include fruits and vegetables during each meal. For breakfast, you could have a vegetable omelet with fruit. For lunch, you could have a salad filled with fruits and vegetables. For dinner, you could have a salad with your meal and fruit for dessert, perhaps in yogurt.
Step two is building milestones.
These milestones represent small wins in your journey. For example, let’s say you drink two cups of coffee each day, and you want to wean yourself down to one cup three days a week. You could slowly wean yourself down and reach a milestone of one cup of coffee a day. If you want to lose weight, an important milestone could be when you reach half of your intended weight-loss goal.
Step three is setting goals toward your plan.
Let’s use weight loss for this example. If your goal is to lose 24 pounds in six months, have a monthly weight-loss goal of four pounds a month. Or if your goal is exercise more, you could make a weekly goal to exercise three days a week for 30 minutes.
Once your plan is in action, it is important to return to it from time to time. You should modify goals that have proven to be unrealistic. So perhaps walking 60 minutes five days a week could be revised to walking 30 minutes three days a week.
As your goals become habits, it would be good to add new goals. The important thing is finding what is right for you. It may take a few times before you find a plan that is right, but keep going. You will feel and look healthier as you continue on the journey.