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January 30, 2019
How to plan, and stick to your health goals.

It’s the beginning of a new year; an exciting time to be reflecting on the year that passed and begin setting New Year’s Resolutions or goals. And if you’re like me, you probably have a tonne of ideas on what you want to achieve.

According to Statistic Brain the most common New Year’s Resolutions are; stay fit and healthy, lose weight, live life to the fullest, spend less and save more, spend more time with family and friends.

Does this sound like you??? Why is it that we have this cloud of guilt surrounding us when enjoying delicious food and sugar laden treats at Christmas time? 

Whilst these are all fantastic goals to improve your life, studies have shown that less than 25% of people stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.

But don’t give up on your hopes just yet. Further research shows that people are ten times more likely to reach their goals if they set goals early in the New Year, compared to those who desire to change behaviour but don’t make goals.

So how do we become part of the 8%?
How do we set our goals and stick to them long term?

Understand your ‘why’
It’s easy to know what you want to achieve but understanding why is what actually creates behaviour change. Research shows that our ‘why’ determines the level of motivation we experience, and this motivation is what keeps us moving towards our goals.

Once you know what your goals are, ask yourself why you want to achieve them? Write it down.

And if you really want to stick to your health goals long-term, keep your eye on the bigger picture. For example, you may want to eat healthier because you want to lose weight. But if you don’t see results straight away, you’re likely going to become disheartened and lose motivation.

But if you make your why about your overall health, say, improving your energy, better sleep, reducing your risk of disease, etc., you’re going to start to see improvements, whilst having long-term goals to keep you going.

Start small, one step at a time
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is people either make their goals too big or have too many. And they want to see results immediately.

Whilst it’s great to be ambitious, for long-lasting lifestyle and health changes, it’s best to start small and build from there.

Completely overhauling your diet all at once, for example, is only going to leave you feeling like it’s all too difficult. It seems great whilst motivation is high, but as the year goes on challenges arise, life happens, and this is where we fall off track.

Instead, break it down into steps. Step one may be to prepare a healthy lunch each weekday. Stick to it for a few weeks and once you’ve mastered it, add on another mini goal such as having a salad with your dinner every night. Nailing all those mini goals will far more successfully lead to your big goal.

Understanding your ‘why’, setting SMART goals and having accountability likely increase your chances of succeeding

Make it SMART
SMART is a great tool to guide you through planning and accomplishing your goals. The acronym stands for:
Specific – rather than vague resolutions such as “I want to be fitter”, set goals with specifics including ‘who, what, when, where, why’. You goal might look more like “I want to workout at the gym 4 days per week for 45 minutes, to improve my body composition.”
Measurable – you need to be able to track progress and know when you have reached your goal. For example, “I want to run 5km in x time” or “I want to eat 5 serves of vegetables per day”.
Achievable – goals need to be challenging but don’t set yourself up for failure. Ask yourself, “what are the actions/steps I need to take to achieve this?”
Realistic – how possible is it for you and your circumstances? You may have set a goal to pre-prepare your weekday lunches but if you travel a lot for work this is going to be difficult, so you may need to adjust your goal.
Time-Specific – set a (realistic!) time-frame to complete your goals. Deadlines keep us motivated and give us a sense of urgency and accountability.

Share your goals
Research shows that those who announce or share their goals are more likely to succeed. Why? Because it increases accountability and enables people to connect with, encourage and support each other in their goals.

So tell a friend, family member or share your health goals on social media. Better yet, grab a friend and create a goal to achieve together!

Failure is part of success
Have you ever tried to lose weight and found it worked for a short time but then you fell off the bandwagon? Success is never linear.

Failing to achieve your goals does not mean that you have failed. It just means that you need to change your strategy. Assess what is working, what isn’t and what you need to change.

Stay committed to your goals but flexible in your approach.

Want to improve your health but unsure where to start? Try one of my favourite keys to optimal health:
1. Eat 5+ serves of vegetables every day
2. Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night
3. Meal plan and prep your weekly meals
4. Eat wholefoods at least 80% of the time
5. Exercise 3-5 days per week
6. Drink 2-3 litres of water per day
7. Meditate for 5+ minutes everyday

Write down your goals and create a plan of action.
“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin


Author : Tris Van Der Kley

Tris (@trisalexandranutrition) is a final year B.HSc Nutritional Medicine student from Melbourne. Tris is a writer, recipe developer, health blogger and fitness enthusiast who is passionate about empowering people with knowledge and inspiring them to live a healthy, happy, balanced life. Tris is a self-confessed nutrition nerd, wholefood lover, fit foodie and meal prep queen.

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