Starting out a new year is the perfect time for a new beginning – a time to set new health goals and to challenge ourselves to be better. Sometimes setting new year resolutions can be exhausting, overwhelming and unrealistic. Often, we try to change too many aspects of our lives or set too many goals making it impossible to achieve them.
Setting health and nutrition goals can be challenging, but we would like to give you some tips on how to kick-start your year with a bang and to set some new goals for yourself. Remember, the changes that you make should be sustainable and long-lasting.
The first step in goal-setting would be to identify areas in your life where you are currently struggling or that you find problematic. For example, you may find that including fruits and vegetables in your diet is a big challenge or that you eat too much sugar daily or even that you struggle to include any form of physical activity in your daily routine.
Now that you know what your biggest struggles are, you can start to set some SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. These aspects are very important to ensure that the goals you set can be reached.
Let’s go back to the example of eating too much sugar. Instead of making a goal that you will stop eating all sugars completely (which may only last a couple of weeks until the cravings kick in), make it more specific. For example, you could set a goal that you will decrease the amount of sugar in your tea from 2 teaspoons to 1 teaspoon and only have 2 cups of tea per day. Or that you will replace the chocolate that you eat after dinner with a portion of fresh fruit.
Making your goals measurable is also very important. If a goal is not measurable, it is impossible to know whether or not you have achieved the goal. Back to the sugar example again, instead of just saying you want to decrease your sugar intake, use a measurable tool like the 1 teaspoon of sugar instead of 2, and also with the chocolate, you can measure how many times you replaced the daily chocolate with fruit. A good idea is to keep a journal and take note of your intake to improve your health.
Your goals should always be attainable or reachable. It does not mean that they have to be very easy or insignificant, but you should be able to attain your goals. Do not set goals that are impossible to achieve.
There can be a lot of pressure to set huge goals for yourself that may be unrealistic. For example, if you currently do not exercise at all, it won’t be realistic to set a goal of running 10km daily for 5 days. It takes time to reach that level of fitness. It may be better to start with setting specific running distances such as for the first month you will run 1km per day for 5 days a week and then increase to 2km per day for the second month.
The last part of the health goal setting process is that your goals should always be time-bound. Having a start and end date for most goals is a good idea. When the timings of goals are too vague, it can lead to less success in achieving the goals. For example when talking about exercise, set a start date and an end date for when you would like to achieve the desired running distance. Get a calendar and write down the daily training that you aim to do, and you will be less likely to stop and restart your goals.
The New Year is a fantastic time for new goals and resolutions. Now that you have a framework of how to set good goals, it’s time to set some new healthy, nutrition and fitness goals.
Below are some ideas that you can implement in the New Year:
Do not skip breakfast (even if it is small or on the go).
Have 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily.
Eat at least 3 meals per day.
Avoid having second helpings at dinner.
Reduce the amounts of sweets to only one piece once per week instead of daily.
Avoid adding extra salt to your food.
Replace at least 1 soda per day with water (better yet, replace all soft drinks with water).
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Include 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
Author: Beyond Nutrition Health and Wellness Services www.beyond-nutrition.ae.