Setting Realistic Health Goals

It’s 11 days after the new year. How are you doing on those healthy resolutions?

If you’re like many people you may have already given up or are on your way to serious discouragement. Let’s talk about that a little bit. When it comes to making healthy lifestyle choices there seems to be a prevailing “all or nothing attitude”.

Many people believe that if they cannot keep to every single healthy goal immediately that they’ve set for themselves that somehow that negates all the healthy choices they DID keep. If you really analyze that attitude it is a lot like saying “I’m not going to walk at all because I’m not a marathon runner.” Silly once you really think about it, right? We wouldn’t expect a person that goes to the gym for the very first time to be able to do everything their trainer does with ease. So why hold ourselves to an impossible standard of perceived perfection when it comes to general healthy lifestyle choices?

Maybe you’re comparing yourself to an acquaintance that seems to lead the perfect healthy lifestyle; diet, exercise, meditation – blah, blah, blah. Let me let you in on a little secret – they most likely didn’t get there in one day, one week or even one month. While there are always exceptions, most people have grown into that healthy lifestyle bits at time building one healthy choice on top of another. Let’s put in a dose of blunt honesty here. Many well-meaning crunchy green gurus come off as self-righteous preachers that discourage people more than they help them. The vast majority of them have very good intentions with their advice. They just get a bit over zealous in their excitement forgetting just how overwhelming it all can be to a newbie.

So now what?

According to physical and behavioral science it takes 21 days to make or break a habit – for good or for ill. So, if you made one (1!) small healthy choice every three weeks for one year you would have made SEVENTEEN (17!) POSITIVE LIFESTYLE CHANGES. Give yourself a minute to really process that. What would your health look like one year from now after incorporating 17 healthy habits?

Make yourself a list of 17 – 20 (seemingly) small healthy choices you can incorporate into your daily routine. Pick one and work on that for the next three weeks. If you slip up a little bit – so what. Make each day a new beginning. In 21 days pick another thing off your list to work on. Using this process you will create a very positive foundation on which to keep building. And it won’t seem like such a daunting endeavor!

I once asked an instructor where to start at a time when I was very overwhelmed. Their response was to sing the Do Re Mi song from the Sound of Music – “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket so I’ll just give you the You Tube link 😉