How To Create Lasting Changes In Your Health

by Natalie on January 2, 2012

Ready, set, go!

At the beginning of a new year, it is common to have aspirations to improve your health. The problem is that they often stay just as that – aspirations. So how do you turn aspirations into action?

Below is an exercise you can complete that will help turn your random thoughts into a concrete plan. It does not take long to complete (less than one hour) and all you need is a paper and a pen. Good luck!

Step 1 – Create your vision

Think about what health and fitness looks like to you. What is your ideal state of health and fitness? If you achieved ultimate success in your health, what would that look like? How would you feel on the inside? How would you look on the outside? Create a clear picture of yourself in your mind of what you will look like at your ideal state of health. Write as many details as possible. Take as much time as you need to do this, it is very important! Consider creating a vision board. Cut out pictures and words from magazines and paste them on a poster board or a piece of paper. Put the collage in a place you will look at everyday. Personally, I find this to be very inspiring.

Step 2 – Determine your “why”

Why is everything you wrote in your vision important to you? Is it to feel better? Look better? Stay young? To be a role model for your children? What drives you to achieve your vision? Writing this down will give you something to look back on when motivation is low. That’s why it is important to think about why it is truly meaningful to you.

Step 3 – Identify your goals

What exactly do you need to do to make your vision a reality? Write down everything that comes to mind. Break down any large ideas into smaller, actionable steps. These are your goals. At this point, write down as many goals it takes to make your vision reality.

Here are some tips about identifying goals:

Specific and reasonable goals are more likely to be achieved than general goals.

Good example: I will eat a vegetable at every dinner meal this week.  Bad example: I will eat more healthy.

Adding a measurement or time to your goal will increase its effectiveness.

Good example: I will walk 15 minutes, 5 days a week.  Bad example: I will exercise more.

Your goals should be challenging but must be realistic for you. Using the previous example, if 5 days a week is just not going to happen for you, it is pointless to set that goal. If 3 days a week is more realistic for you, then write that instead.

Step 4 – Decide what to work on first

Step 3 may have left you with an overwhelming list of goals. You will not be successful if you try to focus on all the goals at one time. You will be more successful if you choose only 2 to 3 goals to focus on at one time.

Here’s how you can pick them. Go through your list of goals. For each goal listed, ask yourself “on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, how important is this goal to me?” Write the number next to the goal. Pick 2 to 3 goals that rank the highest to you. These are the goals you should start with. It may be tempting to select the top 5 goals but doing so will not bring success. Limit yourself to 2 to 3.

What if all your goals were ranked as important? Go back through and think about which ones would make the biggest difference in your health if you started doing them tomorrow. Use the ranking system again from 1 to 10 with 10 being those that will make the biggest difference. This should help narrow you down further.

Step 5 – Roadblock Analysis

Thinking ahead to possible roadblocks – things that may stand in the way of you and your goals – is another way to increase your success.

Taking your goals you selected in the previous exercise, ask yourself “what problems do I see in achieving this goal?” “What might get in my way?” “Is there anything that could stop me from being successful?”

Write down your answers to the above questions. Now, think about what you can do to minimize the roadblock. For example, if lack of information is a problem, where can you get more information? Or if your problem may be lack of support from your family, what can you do to get them on your side?

Thinking of solutions to the problems ahead of time will ensure success!

Monitoring Success – Ongoing

How will you make sure you are achieving your goals? Will you check in weekly? I recommend creating some sort of tracking system. I have used this in the past and found it to be very helpful. Just write or type your goals in a document that you will look at everyday. Review your goals every morning or evening (whatever works best for you). Check off your goal when you meet it. Believe me – it feels great when you can check it off!

If you are unable to meet your goals, that is a sign they may be too lofty. Review and re-write your goals as needed.

Rewards

Making a change is hard work! Rewarding yourself is important and will give you incentive and motivation to proceed. Think about how you will reward yourself for achieving your goals. A non food related reward is best here.

What are your health and fitness goals for 2012? Please share in a comment below. I would love to hear!

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