7 Tips to Help You Meet Your Health & Fitness Goals
January 11, 20233 min read
"A goal without a plan is just a wish." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
The great news about succeeding at new health resolutions, is that there are only two keys you have to master: Starting & Sticking to it!
The bad news is that for many of us, both those can be challenging!
Here are seven tips to help you overcome the common pitfalls that interfere with people meeting their health goals and resolutions.
1. Put your faith in you, instead of a product.
It’s not your actually your toothbrush that gives you good dental hygiene. It’s your HABIT of USING the toothbrush twice daily. It’s easy to get sucked into the “New Year, New You” marketing messages and believe that the latest spin bike will get you fit, or the newest insulated cup will make you drink more water. If those get you excited to try again, great! But remember, you’ll have to work on the habit of using them regularly to make a change.
2. Start small, go gradually.
Changing even one thing about your lifestyle and routine can add mental load and cause your stress level to rise. A lot of folks will use the New Year as an attempt to reset everything. They overhaul their exercise routine, their sleep schedule, and their diet all at once, and the stress load is a big reason why they fail to keep all those new habits. Instead of a “New You” approach try a New Habits approach and start smaller. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits has some great resources on his site for developing new habits with small changes.
3. Focus on who you want to become instead of what you want to achieve.
If you think your goal is to "get in shape” because the last time you hiked with friends you had trouble keeping up, instead try a goal of being a “person who hikes trails easily”. Think about what habits someone who hikes easily would have and start building those into your routine. e.g. You walk for 30 minutes a day on incline 10 on the treadmill to build stamina in your legs, and you do knee strengthening exercises 2x a week so knee pain doesn't hold you back.
4. Get more support.
It might not be reasonable to expect your close friends and family to continuously cheer you on towards your goals. One of the best ways to sustain your motivation is to join a group where your desired behaviour is the norm. e.g. You join a running club to get more runs in or a book club to support your reading habit.
5. Use more than just willpower.
Willpower is a tough way to go. It runs counter to much of how human brains and behavior work. Try these approaches that don't rely on willpower alone:
a) Piggyback on existing well-developed habits. You already have the habit of brushing your teeth every night, connect your new desired habit of using your balance board or doing some stretching with brushing your teeth (before, after or during).
b) Cue your new habit. Lay out your workout clothes the night before if you want to exercise every morning.
c) Bundle your temptations. Link something you want to do with something you need to do. Commit to only watching TV if you have also done your strengthening circut.
d) Use an additive approach instead of subtractive. Build healthier eating habits by adding extra servings of fruits and vegetables rather than cutting out all candy and chips.
6. Avoid an all or nothing mentality.
Perfection is the enemy of progress. Did you know that an airplane flying on autopilot from Toronto to Vancouver is only perfectly on course 3% of the time? The other 97% it’s making course corrections. Instead of feeling like you have to start over when you get off course, just make a correction and keep going. Incidentally, this is much easier to do if you are making smaller habit changes, and not overhauling everything.
7. Track your progress.
Search for Habit Trackers and you’ll find plenty on Etsy, Google, Canva etc. If you are visually motivated just seeing your progress can be enough help keep your motivation up. If you are more kinesthetically oriented, you may want to keep notes on how you feel each day as a result of keeping with your new habits to keep you motivated. If you thrive on auditory input, speak to yourself out loud and congratulate yourself (or ask a supportive friend to send you a voice note) for each week’s worth of keeping your habits.
No matter what, keep going and find what works for you!
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