Whenever you aim to take on a challenge for a result, you are setting a goal. Goals may be ambitious or straightforward: veer off too much in one direction, and you risk wasting your time. Too simple, and you may not care enough about the result, and feel uninspired. Too ambitious, and you risk trying something too challenging, and finding more frustration than inspiration.
Aim for a balance. Set realistic goals that are not too easy but are well within your reach. If you are setting health goals, this is particularly important…
1. Setting realistic weight loss goals. Let us start with weight loss as it is a subject of much debate and interest. Weight loss requires a more realistic approach than perhaps anything else. It is one thing to say you will lose 30 pounds by the end of the year, and another to be able to follow through. It is much better to tell yourself you will take it one week or one month at a time, and then you will accumulate small, but significant amounts of progress.
One pound a week adds up quickly, and even if you are a bit short, it is progress in the right direction. Don’t be too optimistic about what you can achieve in the long-term. For now, worry about what you can accomplish in the next few weeks and months, and don’t run before you can walk.
2. Realistic nutrition goals. Nutrition is under the same scope because without eating well you are unlikely to make weight loss progress. However, it is best not to aim to drastically reduce your caloric intake, or make the same type of dramatic changes to your diet. Start with small steps. Small changes to your diet will go a long way.
3. Feasible exercise strategies. Exercise is essential. If you have been sedentary and recently had a wake-up call such as the diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, you may have decided to change for good. This time it will be different, you tell yourself: that is a good start.
However, be careful about being overzealous. Don’t be too ambitious at first. If you are exercising to achieve…
- weight loss,
- lower blood sugar levels, or
- improving your cardiovascular health,
moderation is key. Going from zero workouts to five or more a week is too much, and it is a difficult goal to sustain.
Instead, establish possible exercise strategies. Aim to exercise three times a week. Do this until it becomes a set routine in your life and you don’t need to think twice about it. If your nutrition is right, you will make progress. You will also be more likely to enjoy your workout at the gym, the walks you go on, and the fitness classes you attend.
Setting realistic goals is ultimately part of establishing a realistic plan for your health. Set health goals you will achieve, and accumulate these successes.