Here we are again: another year behind us, and a brand new one to start! Along with champagne and streamers, the new year brings resolutions, promises, and goals that we carefully contemplate and decide upon. It’s likely that at the start of this, or the start of some other year, you vowed to drop those extra few pounds, hit the gym more often, or get in those last few servings of fruits and veggies each day. Although it’s easy to make these promises to ourselves, it is not always as easy to keep them going throughout the year. So how do you make these new goals stick (and not just for a week or two!)? Here are some of my tried and true favourite ways of keeping on pulse with my goals.
- Set healthy goals First things first, when setting a goal, it should be SMART. Meaning, your goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (see, SMART!). By making your goal specific, you are much more likely to understand which exact steps need to be taken in order to achieve your goal (example: “go to two yoga classes a week”). Next, make sure that your goal is measurable – meaning that you have decided upon a way to meaningfully and accurately track your progress. Eventually, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you met your goal. Remember though, there are a lot of creative ways to measure an accomplishment. Try not to get caught up with calories or weight (trust me, the media does that enough for all of us!). Instead, focus on how you feel and what you’re able to do – this can be much more rewarding and you will be less likely to feel discouraged or overwhelmed. Your goal must also be realistic and attainable. For instance, if you vow to climb Mount Kilimanjaro by the month’s end, but can only make it to the top floor in your apartment building’s stairwel, you might be left feeling disappointed. However, climbing up 6-10 flights of stairs is no joke! Lastly, decide upon a specific time span in which you will have either maintained or reached your goal (aka there’s a difference between one year and “eventually”). By setting this time span, you are less likely to lose your momentum by reminding yourself of your personal deadline.
Now..don’t you feel SMART!
- Get journaling Keeping a food journal is a great way to stay on track while keeping that all-important perspective. Multiple studies have shown that people who opt to jot down what they have been eating throughout the day are more likely to consume fewer calories and make more conscious decisions regarding their nutrition. Journaling is an excellent alternative to counting calories, because it encourages healthful food choices all day long and as opposed to reaching a specific number amount. Counting calories most often results in paying greater attention to quantity rather than the quality and wholesomeness of the food being consumed (and, I should add, enjoyed!). At the end of each day, journalers are given the opportunity to reflect on the quality of their consumption and evaluate personal progress.
- Call on your tribe This one is easy. Sticking to a goal can be especially difficult when going solo. Call on your tribe. It is very likely that they will be more than willing to lend support as you need (we all need cheerleaders from time to time!). Staying on track with a new healthy lifestyle or choice is greatly dependant on an individual’s immediate environment. Call, text or message your buds. _________
- Move..and then move some more One of the best ways to maintain that positive attitude and stick to your healthy eating goal is to get up and move! Regular exercise, even a quick power walk each day, can really help in maintaining that initial motivation. Pick any type of activity (or several types) that you personally enjoy – this is important for long-term success. If regular trips to the gym aren’t your thing, no sweat (in the metaphorical way…). Join a walking group, dance or join a recreational team! These are great ways to get your heart pumping and meet new people who may have similar goals as you. Personally, I love to walk and run outside (weather permitting, but of course), but I also enjoy completing a couple weight circuits at the gym each week for an extra challenge. Variety is key to keep it fun and interesting! DID I MENTION when we move our body, we release feel-good hormones, YAASSS (See, it’s a win win!).
- Be Kind Above all else, remember to be kind to yourself when setting your new goal. I get it…it’s hard to see the end from the beginning. But we must try. Slip-ups are inevitable – we’re all human! Don’t get stuck on these setbacks or beat yourself up. In fact, research shows that these “slip-ups” don’t prevent people from reaching their goal or forming a habit. Welcome these moments as an opportunity for self-reflection.
So that's all for now. Cheers to a happy & healthy new year!
This blog post was written by Ceone Dyck, 4th Year Human Nutritional Sciences student. And the pretty photo (see above) was also taken by her. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.