What are your health goals this year? It may seem like you need the latest exercise bikes, nutrition shakes, or athletic wear, but setting health goals doesn’t have to be complicated (or expensive). These practical, achievable goals could have a long-term impact on your daily habits and help transform your life for the better.
“Eating better” is the type of goal that sounds great but is difficult to achieve. Improving your nutrition requires smaller steps and a specific focus. Here are some ideas for setting health goals when it comes to what you eat and drink.
There are many benefits to drinking more water every day. However, some may find it difficult to drink the recommended eight daily glasses of water. Swapping out sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic drinks (all of which can sabotage a healthy diet) for water with ice and/or lemon is a great first step to better health.
Have you ever gained a few pounds after what seemed like a week of healthy eating? You may be consuming more than you think. Logging meals with a nutrition app or notebook can help you see exactly what you are eating – and what you could cut out.
Restaurants often serve up to twice or even three times the recommended serving size of a meal. But, you don’t need to bring a portable food scale the next time you eat out. Use a portion control guide that compares common food sizes to your hand or common household items.
Unfortunately, coffee does not count as a full breakfast. Eating a well-balanced meal can keep you full, get your metabolism moving, and set you up for more healthy choices. Try to eat at least 200 calories for breakfast to start each day off right.
Busy schedules sometimes mean that meals take place away from the table. But on-the-go meals, such as fast food or nutrition bars, don’t help you practice mindful eating. Make a goal to eat at least one meal a day at the table, preferably without electronics.
It can be hard to fold an exercise routine into a full day, or when you don’t feel fit enough to even start. Programs like Couch to 5k focus on achieving small goals to meet a larger goal in the future. If you’re somewhere between the couch and running a 5k, you may be interested in these minor tweaks to your physical life.
Walking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Setting goals for steps taken in a day is an effective way to be aware of your walking lifestyle. Gradually increasing and meeting step goals is an organic way to make your day more physically active.
You won’t work out regularly if you’re bored. Set a goal to try a new type of workout every month, and commit to at least three sessions before deciding if you like it. You might just find your favorite new exercise routine!
Increasing your workouts is an achievable goal when you do it gradually. If you work out three times a week, try four times next week. If you don’t exercise at all, try going just once next week. Similarly, if you’re normally at the gym for 30 minutes, try extending that session to 40 or 45 minutes next time.
The last five minutes of a workout isn’t the only time you should stretch during the day. Stretching properly can have similar benefits to an exercise class. Set a goal to stretch in the morning, periodically throughout the day, and just before bed.
Ever find yourself holding your breath during a hard workout? Regular breathing exercises not only center you in the moment, they can also improve your performance during physical activities. Create a timer on your phone to remind yourself to practice breathing exercises during the day.
It’s easy to overlook other needs as you maintain your physical health. But mental and emotional health are vital parts of overall personal health. Here are some ways to make sure your mind is as healthy as your body.
If the first thing you do in the day is grab your phone, you need a new routine. Creating and following a set morning routine is great for your headspace and mental health. Write down your routine before you go to sleep, and put the list where you’d normally put your phone.
The snooze button isn’t your answer to getting more sleep. If you’re not getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, it can take a toll on all aspects of your health. Make it a goal to get to bed at least eight hours before you need to be awake the next morning.
Feeling occasional moments of frustration and stress is normal. However, if you find yourself bogged down most of the time, you may need to assess your emotional reactions. Make a note of your emotional reactions during the day to determine whether your feelings may be outsized – or whether your environment is too stressful.
Some days can feel lonelier than others, even when you are with friends and family. Set a goal to journal your day over the course of a week or month. When the time period is over, you’ll have plenty to reflect on, and you’ll likely want to keep going!
Goals should be both challenging and practical. A SMART checklist ensures a goal is reachable. SMART stands for:
- Specific: What small step do you need to take when reaching a larger general goal?
- Measurable: What evidence can determine whether your goal is met?
- Achievable: Can you reach this goal in a timely, healthy manner?
- Relevant: Are you likely to commit yourself to this goal? Does it contribute to bigger goals you have in your life?
- Time-Bound: When you do want to have reached this goal?
SMART goals help you take steps toward an overall goal. Wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle is an admirable goal, and making individual SMART goals can help get you there.
Ready to start setting some personal health goals? Keep these pointers in mind as you choose the best items for your health goal list.
- Focus on one goal at a time. If you feel overwhelmed, it can be hard to achieve even the most reasonable goals.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t be hard on yourself if you miss one day or slip on a goal. Everyone is human, and you’re trying your best.
- Be honest about habits. Setting a goal to take 15,000 steps a day is admirable, but if you’ve only been taking 1,000 steps previously, the goal may not be attainable right away.
- Build (and use) a support system. You’re not in this alone! Set goals with friends, coworkers, or family members, and encourage each other along the way.
- Focus on the whys. Understanding why you want to be healthier is key to meeting your goals. Whether you want to improve your marathon time or you want to make it around the block, your inspiration matters.