New goals: how to select and achieve them – by MD Thordis Berger
Many of us have a desire to eat much healthier and be more active but it can be difficult to make the necessary changes, particularly ones that will last. When it comes to eating well and moving more, most of us know what we ought to do, the problem is actually doing it.
One of the biggest problems with becoming more active and set up new goals is that there are lots of distractions in our life – we’re busy, time is limited and we have established habits that are very hard to break.
So, what can we do to help ourselves achieve these new goals?
We are all busy, so make smaller, easier changes that can easily fit into your existing lives. This way, there is a much higher chance of forming new habits which had the potential to last.
Do not try to change too many things (habits) at once, which can only lead to disappointment.
When you try to create too many habits at once (i.e. eliminate sugar, workout every day, etc.), you drastically reduce your chances of sticking to new healthy habits and changes.
Instead, Start Small.
Start by making small changes and implementing just 1 or 2 habits at a time. They should be so incredibly simple that they almost feel too easy...
For example, some easy changes to increase physical activity at your workplace are:
- Take the stairs, not the lift. Believe it or not, stair climbing can burn more calories than jogging,
- Walk to see colleagues instead of emailing them.
- Park further away from the office, get off the bus a stop early or find a longer route to walk to work.
- Go for a lunchtime stroll, or buy lunch further away so that you have to walk.
- Have walking meetings instead of sitting in a meeting room.
- Try walking around or standing when making or taking phone calls.
Furthermore, you should create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goals, for example: going to the gym for 30 minutes twice in the next week or increasing their daily step count by a few thousand steps.
Motivation is another very important factor. You need it to have the external and internal drive to accomplish your new goals. But motivation is fleeting, especially when we are stressed, tired, or bored etc…For this reason, accountability is a powerful tool. Essentially, accountability keeps you consistent by having you report back to someone (or yourself) what you’re successfully–or unsuccessfully–doing with your diet and exercise regimen. You can create a sort of dairy or chart that allows you to keep track of habits and to see how you have been progressing toward your new goals. There are a ton of things that you can put in your habit tracker to help you stay on the right path toward your new goals or simply observe your current patterns (for example Water consumption, Caloric intake, No soda (coffee/alcohol/junk food/etc), Exercise, etc).
You can also automatically track your steps using a pedometer, your smartphone, or a fitness tracker. It’s amazing how many steps you’ll add if you choose the stairs instead of the elevator and take a 25-minute walk at lunchtime or after dinner.
Connect with others. Whether you prefer being a competition winner or a team player, social involvement and shared targets will provide better motivation than going it alone.
The majority of exercises offer opportunities for sociability, which serves as an incentive for continued participation.
Find what's fun and joyful for you.
Instead of making exercise a chore, do what makes you happy. This can be for example a twice-weekly dance class at the gym. You should find something that is fun, and that motivates you to show up each time!
Find out more M.D. Thordis Berger articles in our Medical section.