Five Golden Rules for Setting Health Goals

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1. Set realistic goals.

Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard about being realistic before. And there’s a perfectly good reason why it’s often at the top of the list—because it’s so true! You have to be realistic.

Let’s say one of your health goals is to lose weight. Yes, we all want it now. But, it’s simply not realistic to expect to lose 50 pounds in a month. It’s just not going to happen.

When you set unrealistic goals, you are just setting yourself up for failure. On the other hand, if you put things into perspective, you don’t get disappointed with the daily numbers on the scale and maintain a better overall routine so you get great cumulative results over a 3-6 month period.

2. Do not reward yourself with food.

Since we were kids, we’ve been handed candy when we’re good, a cake for birthdays, and sweet treats for holiday celebrations. But it’s not only the sweet stuff. We gather around the table to share food on many different occasions.

What has happened as a natural consequence for many of us is that our sense of reward is wrapped up in food. If we do something good, we celebrate by rewarding ourselves with a nice meal, a piece of chocolate or some other decadent delight.

It’s time to stop that and choose something else—like a massage, a new piece of clothing, a good book, a hot bath, or a trip to a park or the beach. There are so many other ways to make yourself feel special, so start choosing something to support your health goals.

3. Prepare for obstacles.

It’s inevitable that obstacles will come our way; it’s a natural part of life. And unfortunately, it always seems like they come along just when you were getting on track, right? Typical.

Instead of waiting for them to happen and ‘falling off the wagon,’ take time to think about the kinds of things that have put you off in the past and ways to overcome them.

For example, if staying motivated has been an issue for you, how might you deal with that? You could join a support group or perhaps recruit a family member or friend. Whatever those obstacles may be, take the time to plan at least a few strategies to deal with them. That way when they do come up, you can still guarantee your success.

4. Small steps equal big gains.

Focus on small steps forward every day. Change one bad food for a good one and/or add a new exercise or healthy practice to your routine.

Every step you take today adds up tomorrow and the next and the next. In 3 weeks’ time or 3 months’ time, you will be where you need to be. Everything you do has a cumulative effect, so there’s no need to do it all at once.

5. Enjoy the journey.

Having you heard the saying, “Life is about the journey, not the destination?”

It really is a great saying because sometimes we focus so much on that destination that life just passes us by. We forget how far we’ve come. We forget to give ourselves a pat on the back for our accomplishments. And we forget to enjoy learning about being healthy.

Enjoy learning about new foods, exercises, and ways to look after yourself. The more you can see it as a journey, the easier your health goals will be to achieve.

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