How to Set Health Goals That Work For You

Setting health goals that are meaningful to you, ones that will deliver the outcomes you desire is NOT hard, but it is ‘different’.  Practice breeds familiarity, and ‘different’ becomes normal, even easy, given a little time.  

For some, the hardest part is overcoming obstacles, be it life or inner obstacles – or a combination of both, as usual for most of us.  For others, staying focused on your goals is the hurdle. Inner struggles such as seeking perfection or procrastination will give obstacles the power to overcome you, which isn’t happening on our watch.

It’s important to remember that knowledge is only powerful when you act on it – and in this instance, that means DOING and THINKING DIFFERENTLY than you have before.

“Knowledge is NOT power; it is only potential power. It becomes powerful only when and if it is organised into a definite plan of action and directed to a definite end.” Napoleon Hill.

Let’s Get To Work

One thing is for sure, without a clear plan, the right preparation and compelling motivation to succeed, your health goals will quickly become more things that end up in the bin of life.

You deserve more; if you really want it, you can have it.

Become Better & Better Everyday, In Every Possible Way

Over the years, our approach has been to treat lifestyle changes like a marathon, not a sprint.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a sprint is important, and changes need to be made quickly when people are seriously ill, for example. Generally, we want the whole process of transforming your world to be FUN, ENJOYABLE and most importantly, SUSTAINABLE.

People do better when they are prepared and when they don’t overwhelm themselves. The thought of making massive changes instantly can often be too much to get our head around, or we get excited at the thought of it, but the reality is just too hard, and it soon gets the boot. Taking bite-sized chunks and integrating little changes into our lives bit by bit – mastering them before we move on to another element, not only works better but also creates permanent changes in our habits, making everything easier to sustain in the long haul.

Be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses – if you are prone to procrastinate to the point of inertia, or to research a topic to the nth degree without actually doing anything, then I suggest that you create a detailed plan – and follow it to the letter (a little discipline never hurt anyone).

“One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man who has it for 30 years who makes a success of his life” Edward B. Butler

Preparing the Ground for Success

‘There are no secrets to success. It results from preparation, hard work and learning from failure’. Colin Powell

Sometimes people will tell me, “You’re so lucky to have good health and your life”. Blessed – most definitely, but as for lucky, not in this instance. LUCK has nothing to do with it. I work hard to be well, fit and mentally alert. I make sacrifices sometimes. I make intelligent choices sometimes (not always) about how I live – but most of all, I see it as my job to care for myself. It took me years to permit myself to prioritise my own needs and desires. It took planning, determination and time. I love my life. I’m not perfect, but who is? I’ve lived long enough to know that I can change what I dislike and have choices.

Of course, it’s hard at times – staying committed to your goals is a process. To stand any chance of ‘getting there’, you need to be focused – then you need to be organised. It takes more mental and physical energy to change your habits and build new routines at the beginning of the process, but this gets easier. As you reap the rewards of your labour, when you feel better, when you have a glow rather than a pale hue, when you can leap out of bed genuinely excited, buzzing about the day ahead…..then you will know any effort has been well worth it!

My advice about starting a ‘new self’ project, is to make a plan to address other stresses in your life first, such as financial problems or relationship conflicts. While these stresses may never go away completely, managing them better is likely to improve your ability to focus on achieving a healthier lifestyle. Ask for help, guidance and support from wherever you can. Leaving these issues unresolved will often be the triggers that will cause you to fall off the health wagon, so being courageous enough to look at them and work on them, immediately changes their hold on you, therefore increasing your chance of success.  

Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” Robert H. Schuller.

Types of Preparation – Mental and Practical

A combination of bold choices, happy mistakes, and focused planning can take anyone with the desire to change from zero to hero in a relatively short space of time.

Everybody is different. You will discover your rhythm, obstacles and blocks as you embark on this great adventure, but here are some tried and tested strategies used by those who outperform the rest in their field of sport or in their chosen career. Mimicking people who ‘achieve’, catapults your likelihood of success into the stratosphere – if you want to become good at something, follow someone who is already doing it, and succeeding.

Mental Preparation – Steps to mastering thoughts and behaviours for better habits.  (Don’t forget forgiveness.)  

1: Start small, think big.

Big bold dreams are beautiful. Urgent. Critical. As Les Brown said, “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still be amongst the stars”. No one gets anywhere by thinking small or doing nothing. Now it’s time to think big and start small.

Enjoying the process is important. This is better achieved if you build gradually.  When I work with people who want healthier lifestyles, I take them from where they are now to where they want to be in slow, steady steps. Maybe we’ll work on fluids, breakfast ideas, lunch, cleansing techniques, evening meals, supplements, snacks, and so on.

This has proven to be a sustainable way in which people’s lives have been transformed, and they genuinely love the process. Adding too much too soon creates stress – this is not what this process is about.

2: Find your motives.

Motivation requires enough reasons why YOU MUST do or stop doing a certain thing. Exploring your motives helps you focus on why you must achieve your goal rather than why you can’t achieve it.  

Answer these questions about changing your lifestyle:

▪ Why must I do this?

▪ What do I hate about ……. (poor health, low energy, excess weight)

▪ What will I be able to do when I ……(have great health, boundless energy, perfect weight)

▪ What do I really want

3: Commit.

Don’t think about it once you have a plan – DO IT.

Set a date: When will you start? Decide a specific date, circle it in your diary, and then do it.

Tell yourself you’re all in. There are no U-turns; there is nothing that can stop you. Every obstacle and every hurdle will be a challenge from which you will grow. Tell people who matter to you what you are doing. No need to ask for their permission, as all you want is their support and encouragement, or they can butt out!

Think about commitment this way: If you look at the ingredients on a breakfast plate, the chicken was ‘involved’ – providing the eggs, but by God, the pig (who provided the bacon) was committed!

Moral: Don’t be a chicken, be a pig 😜

Affirmation: I am fully committed to achieving my goals.

4: Set clear goals.

Quick fixes, miracle cures, false promises and downright lies are often what keeps a lot of people in a job. Slow and steady progress, learning by mistakes, adopting new skills, and overcoming inner blockages don’t sound so sexy.

Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey – you know deep down that your time and effort will turn things around. Embrace it – you may as well and remember, Health is not the absence of disease – but when you have the absence of health, you gotta do healthy stuff – a lot!

It may seem obvious to say, ‘Set realistic goals’. But do you really know what’s realistic? Aiming to lose a healthy pound each week is more realistic than setting a goal to lose a stone in a month. Starting from scratch, exercising for 20 minutes a day, three or four times a week is more realistic than going to the gym for an hour daily.

Being realistic does not mean being pessimistic. Our goals must be compelling, based on what is important to us as individuals.  

1 or 2 key goals.

Don’t make the mistake of listing everything you perceive to be wrong with you as a goal.

Carefully consider this question: If you had a magic wand right now, health-wise, what would you most want? Choose one or two things that you would really love to achieve, then look at how you can measure them.

When setting goals, think about both process and outcome goals. “Exercise every day” is an example of a process goal. “Lose a pound a week” is an example of an outcome goal. You don’t have to have an outcome goal, but it is good to set a process goal because changing your habits is the key to good health.

Some examples of goals may include:

▪ I will drink four pints of water every day.

▪ I will follow my health plan week by week.

▪ I will reduce the pain in my back by half in 3 months.

(See more examples below)

Once you have achieved one goal, set another.

Write down your key goal/s and put them somewhere you will see regularly.

5: Make mistakes.

Perfectionism is the thief of experience, in my opinion. How often have we said no or stopped ourselves from fully committing to something in case we fail? We’ve all done it, from big projects to simply trying out a new recipe. What if it doesn’t work? Well, we can adapt our plan for the next time, add some spicy sauce to the dish or feed it to the dog! We might absolutely love it.

We all make mistakes, but they are fantastic tools in life, and if we have fun with them, they are a great way to grow.  The true measure of a person is how they deal with the inevitable mistakes. Do you give up, stop trying, throw in the towel or push through? One thing is for certain: it’s the people who are willing to admit to and learn from mistakes who truly succeed in moving forward.

6: Have a support system.

Having people to support you goes hand-in-hand with success. Hang out with people who are doing the same as you or people who have already done what you want to achieve. If you are trying to cut down on alcohol, there’s no point hanging out with your most infamous drinking buddies. You won’t get ‘dry’ by being in a ‘wet’ room.

Get a gym buddy, or better still, a ‘health’ buddy…someone you trust to:

1) Not to give up

2) Not to let you give up.

A good support person will know when to say, “Quit being a baby!” and when to say, “Oh, you poor baby!”

Stay away from negativity. Avoid people who want you to fail, pull you down, or undermine your efforts.

Again, seriously talk to the people who matter to you about what you are doing and why you are doing it – ask for their help (not permission). When you finally succeed in your health goals, they will be your loudest supporters and greatest fans because they have been part of your journey.

7: Blinders on.

Nothing is “impossible”. No matter how old you are, how sick you’ve been, how sick you are, how many times you’ve tried to lose weight and put it back on – nothing is impossible.

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve

Anyone with a goal for a better life must delete this word from their vocabulary. ‘Impossible’ is an excuse we use when we can’t be bothered or when we are full of doubt or fear. It is the ego’s way of tricking us into quitting. If we want to recover lost health, permanently lose weight, live each day with an abundant amount of energy, and peak performance in our sport and our life, then quitting is not an option.

I won’t lie; there will be times when changing old habits is hard. When you want to hit snooze instead of making a smoothie; when an episode of your favourite TV programme tempts you away from a detoxing bathroom hour; when one piece of chocolate turns into the devouring of the entire super-sized packet.  This is when you call on your support team to talk you down before you give up altogether. We all fall off the wagon – it’s no big deal, and it doesn’t make what is possible impossible. It simply means that you just fell off the wagon or had a down day.  

8: Enjoy it.

Being healthy, feeling great, looking gorgeous, isn’t a chore or a hardship. It’s wonderful.  Getting healthy and staying that way needn’t be this way either. Going from couch potato to super fit, from sick to well, from flab to fabulous takes change, sure, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting or exciting. If you take your time, get support, be ok with making mistakes whilst you focus on your goals – claiming this lifestyle as your own is like a new hobby. New things to learn, new experiences to be had, new people to meet. Yes, it may require dedication, commitment, and perseverance. But it’s still fun. Every day you will learn something about yourself. You will change patterns, habits, beliefs – each bringing their own little victories and joys.

I stand by my belief that anyone can heal. It’s just that most people won’t, especially if they continue the actions, behaviours and beliefs that got them sick in the first place. Too many are content to let a healthy body be a fantasy, always on the “maybe someday” list; watching but never acting.

Ok, you will likely have an occasional setback. But instead of giving up entirely, simply start afresh the next day. Remember that you’re planning to change your life. It won’t happen all at once. Stick to your healthy lifestyle and the results will be worth it.

9. Practical preparation.

We are not trying to get from 0-60 in ten seconds…this is a marathon, not a sprint remember.  Our intention is to help you to make meaningful changes, painlessly.  Here are some practical steps you can take today that will put you in the driving seat so that you not only enjoy your experience – you love it!

Our guiding principles for practical preparation.

1. Reclaim your kitchen.

Food may have controlled you in the past, but now is the time to take your power back and show it who’s boss by reclaiming your kitchen. Out with old, in with the new. It’s time to overhaul your kitchen space so it reflects your intention to change your lifestyle, long-term. Your positive new habits will stick like glue if you are ready for them. I love cleaning out my kitchen – what?  I do. It’s therapeutic and it sends a clear message to yourself and those around you that you are seriously committing to long-term lifestyle changes.

Take an hour (OK, maybe two) to go through your fridge, freezer, cupboards and odd bits of pots and jars that are laying around. Anything that isn’t good for you (and you know what that is by this point), either throw away or ‘recycle’ to your friends, neighbours or local food bank if it’s safe to do so. Be honest, if it’s there, you’ll find an excuse to eat it. Don’t have rubbish food in the house and don’t buy it.

2. Stock up.

Below is a comprehensive list of what I always have to hand in my kitchen.  In time, you’ll develop your own larder based on your own tastes.

Tip : Try to buy organic when possible, particularly when it comes to oils.

Staples

  • Miso paste
  • Sea vegetables (start with sushi nori sheets but also try arame, dulse or kelp)
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Red Thai curry paste
  • Apple cider vinegar (fermented.  It will say ‘with the mother’)
  • Tamari sauce
  • Date syrup
  • Raw honey
  • Nut butter (almond, cashew, coconut)
  • Light Tahini
  • Shredded coconut
  • Coconut flakes
  • Coconut flour
  • Chickpea flour
  • Dates (sulphur dioxide free)
  • Gluten free rolled oats
  • Sprouted wheat bread
  • Mixed seeds and nuts (start with raw almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds)
  • Quinoa
  • Pulses (start with: chickpeas, butter beans, cannellini beans, red lentils and puy lentils)
  • Gluten free pasta (or reduced gluten such as spelt or kamut, for quick cooking emergencies)
  • Cacao powder
  • Vanilla essence
  • Dark chocolate
  • Herbs n spices – start with: cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic granules (or flakes), black pepper, oregano, thyme
  • Himalayan crystal salt or Celtic sea salt, cumin powder, chilli flakes, garam masala, turmeric powder
  • Ginger powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Perishables

  • Onions
  • Fresh chilli
  • Garlic
  • Coconut oil
  • Organic olive oil
  • Fresh berries and fruit
  • Frozen fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Salad

Whistle whilst you work.

▪ Read your GOALS every morning before you get up. It is important to remember WHY you are CHOOSING to reclaim your health & fitness.

▪ Be determined. Stick to your commitment to yourself. You can do it if you smile and have some fun.

Having fantastic health is not a punishment.  It’s a choice you are making.

Tip: To succeed with health goals, start with targets that you can actually hit, so you don’t lose motivation. 

How to Achieve Health Goals

Once you have your personalised list of health goals, here’s how you can achieve them.

1. Use the SMART method.

Using this method will help you design your goals more effectively. In doing so, you’re creating better conditions for your success.

SMART goals are:

• Specific: you have a clear picture of your desired outcome

• Measurable: you have a clear metric to measure your success

• Attainable: you can accomplish your goal with the skills and resources you have

• Realistic: your goal is aligned with a larger purpose

• Time-bound: you have a deadline for achieving your goal

2. Create a trail of breadcrumbs.

Your goals should build on the last, inching you towards your final goal. Keep the SMART method in mind whilst organising your steps. If one isn’t achievable right away, your preceding goals should work up to it.

For example, if you have a long-term goal of lifting 100 pounds of weight, you need to set smaller goals to build up gradually. Start by upping your weight in 5-pound increments. This progress will keep you motivated and help you stay realistic. 

3. Make your goals fun.

Not everyone enjoys the same activities. One person might love the gym, and others may prefer a dance class. Find a type of fitness that fits you and your personality.

You can also give your goals fun names. Instead of “running a mile in eight minutes,” you’re actually “tearing up a mile of city streets in eight minutes or less.”

4. Tie them to a larger purpose.

Remember your motives.  Why do you want a healthier lifestyle? Maybe you want to keep up with your kids, improve your focus at work, or become a better partner. These reasons go beyond the goal itself — they’re tied to a wider purpose. This can be a powerful inspiration when you aren’t in the mood.

5. Focus on one healthy habit at a time.

You might want to start meditating, getting eight hours of sleep, hitting the gym consistently, getting more productive at work, and taking a weekly Zumba class. That’s a lot to do at once.

It’s better to form one healthy habit at a time. This will make everything feel more manageable, reducing the likelihood of burning yourself out and quitting one month in. Forming a habit takes between 18-25 days, so pace yourself accordingly. Set specific goals and take them one at a time.

Four types of personal health goals.

As mentioned earlier, many things fall under “personal health.” Here are the types of goals for you to consider:

Nutritional goals.

Goals about your diet can include:

• Eating seven portions of vegetables, berries and whole fruit each day

• Drinking 2 litres of clean, still water daily

• Eating five plant-based meals per week

• Controlling your portions

• Eating at the table instead of in front of the TV

Physical goals.

Some potential physical goals could include:

• Trying a new physical activity

• Counting your steps

• Increasing your workout time each week

• Stretching for 20 minutes every day

You can also set small-scale goals to support your overall health, like always taking the stairs.

Focus in: Let’s take physical health and explore it in more detail to give you an example.

Several key principles can be applied to help you set your physical activity goals. These include:

• Pinpoint your ultimate goal.

• Find out how to achieve your ultimate goal.

• Set small, specific mini-goals.

• Monitor your progress regularly.

• Adapt to changing circumstances.

• Don’t be too hard on yourself

Pinpoint your ultimate fitness goal

Suggestions include:

• Be realistic – Your ultimate fitness goal could be to be fit enough to participate in a competition on a set date or to do 10 laps of the pool. Whatever the case, make this goal realistic. Remember that most of us will never be world-famous athletes or supermodels. Think about what is achievable for you. Write down your goals.

• Be specific – Don’t make your ultimate goal a general statement like: ‘I want to lose weight’. Make it measurable. Exactly how many kilograms do you want to lose?

• Choose a goal that is meaningful and important to you, not to anybody else. For example, if your partner wants you to lose weight, but you’re happy as you are, you may find it difficult to commit to your exercise routine in the long term.

Mental health goals.

You can make a goal to meditate for 10 minutes each morning, show more gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal every night — all of which can have positive mental health outcomes.

Social health goals.

Some of us struggle with creating and maintaining relationships, and that’s okay. Social health goals can help improve this area of your life. These goals are focused on developing and sustaining meaningful, loving, and respectful relationships.

If you’re looking to include social health goals in your goal setting, you’ll be thinking of goals like setting clear and healthy boundaries, expressing your needs (without apologising) or being a better listener.

Finally, Reward Yourself!

Give your brain a reward with a dose of dopamine when you achieve a goal. You can do this by leveraging extrinsic motivators that condition your brain to enjoy a task. 

Keep a Journal.

Writing and reflecting on your goals can help your motivation. Journaling keeps your ambitions front-and-centre, so you don’t forget what you’re working toward.

Conclusion.

When you set out to achieve your goals, you need a plan of preparation and a plan of action (to keep you from growing discouraged or feeling directionless). That’s why SMART health goals can help you achieve a higher level of well-being.

Without setting goals, you can easily become unfocused and lost. You wouldn’t know your true potential or be able to learn new skills. Never forget how important your goals are. With SMART goal setting and dedicated action, you’ll run past every finish line you set your mind to.

To your great health,

The Nutritional Healing Team

P.S. Don’t give up. You’re worth it!

Ali Holden

by Ali Holden

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