With the new year upon us, you may be thinking about setting some new goals for your life. Research shows that the simple fact of having a goal or goals for ourselves brings about a sense of well-being, even if we do not achieve them. If you strive to live a healthy life, goals can help you. In this article, you will get ideas of how to set SMART goals in three areas – nutrition, fitness, and mental/emotional health. All of which affect our wellbeing.
What is a SMART goal?
Specific – What small steps can you take that will lead you to the larger goal?
Measurable – What evidence will show that the goal has been met?
Achievable – Is it realistic?
Relevant – How is it important to you? Does it contribute to your overall well being?
Time-Bound – Set a date for when you want to complete the goal.
While a nutritional goal of “eating better” sounds good, a better goal might be to “eat three meals per day.” Rather than a goal of “no snacking” try setting a goal based on adding something rather than taking something away. For example, try setting a goal of “snack on raw veggies once per day.”
Here are a few examples of healthy nutritional goals:
1. Drink more water. Use a reusable water container with measurements. You may find that using a straw helps you to drink more water.
2. Eat breakfast every day.
3. Eat more whole foods. Set a goal to buy and eat more raw foods such as veggies, fruit, whole grains, beans, etc., and less packaged or fast food.
4. Eat at least one meal per day at a table without electronics.
5. Keep a daily food journal. This can give you a realistic view of what you are eating so you can determine if changes need to be made to your diet such as adding more whole foods and less packaged/processed food.
While exercising can be challenging, it does not have to be complicated. The simplest exercise is walking. Getting steps whenever and however you can is the goal. If you do not have an hour to go to the gym or you do not prefer the gym at the moment, you can get your steps by parking farther away at the grocery store or at work and/or taking the stairs whenever possible. If there are stairs in your home or workspace, use them to get your steps. If you wear a fitness device, push yourself to get a few more steps this week than you did last week. Research shows that there is just as much benefit from exercising in small increments several times per day as there is exercising all at one time. Consider making a goal of “take a ten-minute walk 3-4 times per day.” By adding five minutes of stretching to this goal you will have exercised for an hour!
Try virtual exercise. YouTube has thousands of workouts in various formats and durations that you can do any time, anywhere. When you find a workout or Yoga session you like, do it three times. Next week, add a different workout. Build a list of your favorite channels that you can turn to for quick access. Variety is key. At The Kansas City Wellness Club, we offer VRE (or virtual reality experience) headsets with a variety of fitness programs for all levels that you can use with complete privacy in our fitness studio.
If you have specific fitness goals, consider using one of our top-notch personal trainers. They will help you establish and customize an exercise routine that is right for you and will help you stay on track and accountable.
In living a healthy lifestyle, mental health is equally as important as physical health. Something as simple as breathing can help to slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and reduce the body’s production of Cortisol (the fight-or-flight hormone our bodies produce in response to stress that has been known to cause weight gain).
Take time for self-care. Brainstorm ways you can do things that you enjoy and that make you feel good. Write these ideas down. Set a goal to find a quiet space at least three times a day to breathe. This can be first thing in the morning, during the day, and at bedtime. Try this simple routine and notice the difference you feel in only a few minutes. Here is how it works. Take a full breath in through the nose, hold it for at least four seconds, open the mouth and exhale fully. Repeat this four times with eyes closed.
Is it getting a weekly or monthly massage, getting a facial, or practicing Yoga things that make you feel good? Do you enjoy meditation, or rituals such as the burning bowl, reading, a hot bath or steam, sipping wine, burning candles, incense, or sage? Do you enjoy listening to music, digging in the dirt, nurturing plants, grooming your pet, journaling, swimming, cleaning, organizing, or taking long walks in nature? Find what feeds your peace of mind and makes you feel good and make a goal of doing it at least once a week if not more.
Consider all of the health and wellness offerings at The Club including massage, energy healing, facials, steam bath and sauna, Yoga classes, and more. In the VRE room, you can use a headset in guided meditation and relaxation sessions. Whatever variety of self-care activities speak to you, make a commitment to yourself to do them regularly.
Setting a sleep routine can be greatly beneficial to your mental and emotional health. Set a goal of getting at least seven hours of sleep per night. Set a timer that reminds you to start your bedtime routine with a reasonable bedtime. If it helps turn your mind off, keep a notepad by your bed that you can write down to do’s, things you do not want to forget, or any concerns that could deprive you of restful sleep. Place the notepad face down. Turn your phone’s notifications off and place the screen side down.
First thing in the morning, establish the day by practicing four cycles of mindful breathing mentioned earlier. This means giving thanks for even small blessings each time you inhale and exhale. Make your bed and do five minutes of movement either stretching or push-ups; whatever you need most, then grab your phone and your to-do list.
Tips for Healthy Goal Setting:
1) Focus on one goal at a time. Take small steps that lead to a larger goal. For example, if
your goal is to “lose twenty pounds,” set a smaller goal of “lose five pounds in January.” Adjust the smaller goal as time goes on.
2) Be kind to yourself. If you miss one workout, one journal entry, stayed up too late, or ate too many donuts, do not beat yourself up. Get back on track the very next day.
3) Build a support system. Reach out to family and friends who you know will support you and let them know what you are doing. Encourage them to join you in setting goals of their own. Find and join social media challenge groups. Most fitness device companies sponsor these groups for their users. Find an accountability partner or partners who care about your health and wellbeing who would agree to support you. Check-in with them regularly about your goals, your struggles, and your progress. Consider meeting with one of our Life Coaches.
4) Always remember your why. Why am I doing this? Why is this goal important to me?
The answer to these questions can keep you going and help you achieve your goals.
Feel free to reach out via email if you have questions or need help setting healthy goals. I am happy to help. Fitness@kcwellnessclub.com – Christa Colwell, Fitness Manager.