Do let me tell you, striving for a healthy lifestyle isn’t about going on a kale-only crash diet or having 2.5 hours of high-intensity workouts every day. No! It is about setting achievable health goals and making incremental changes. These goals create a bridge between where we are now and where we want to be. Have you ever thought, on a Monday, "I'll start my diet tomorrow?" And then you woke up on Tuesday and repeated the same statement? Or maybe you decided at the start of the new year that you would join the gym and become fit. And yet, months into the year, the gym card sits, untouched and gathering dust? I've been there. We lie to ourselves, promising tomorrow or the day after, and in doing so, we postpone our health. But today, let's take that first step.
Have you ever been on a long road trip, perhaps across different states? Did you start the car and just drive, hoping you will get to the destination? Of course not, you probably used Google Maps or, for the old-school folks among us, a physical map. The same should be done for our health. Goal mapping—a term I’ve coined—means defining specific steps to meet your health objective. Let's say, for instance, you want to lose weight. Instead of saying, "I want to lose weight," try saying "I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 months by taking a 30-minute walk after dinner, cutting soda and sugar, and doing yoga twice a week." By being specific, your health goal becomes more manageable and less abstract. You’re not battling with a vague concept, you have a roadmap!
This goal mapping is essential because it allows us to track our progress and celebrate small victories—which is so crucial in keeping motivation. Take it from me. Last summer, I aimed to run a 5k. Starting from hardly being able to jog without huffing and puffing, I made a weekly plan, gradually increasing my running minutes. Seeing my progress, celebrating those extra five minutes of breathless running had me laughing in giddy disbelief, "Is that really me? Am I doing this?" It was fantastic! So break your health goals down into small, measurable steps, track your progress and celebrate your mini-victories. Trust me, it's great fun!
No health goal achievement journey is complete without a support system. It's like having your own personal cheering squad reminding you why it's important to keep going, even on the days when you can’t remember. A support system could be anyone—a family member, a friend, or even online communities! I have a good friend, Betsy. Too geeky for her sake, she loves numbers, charts, and graphs. She’s the one who tracked my running progress for my 5k goal! Having her engaged in my journey was not only a great motivator but also a good practice—a living proof—for accountability. So, find your own Betsy and embark on a healthier life path!
Okay, we’ve set the goal, made the plan, worked on it, and maybe even achieved it. Fine. Well done. But don’t be the hare from the Aesop’s Fables, who fell asleep after a quick sprint, while the tortoise, slow and steady, won the race. Health is the race of a lifetime and maintaining achieved goals is as crucial as setting them. This is where most of us falter. We often regard the achievement of a health goal as the end, which is why so many of us rebound to our old habits. Maintaining might look different for different goals—maybe you keep up with your new diet but allow a cheat day per week, maybe you continue walking daily but not as far—whatever it is, it does not mean going back to the old unhealthy ways. Remember, the journey to a healthy lifestyle is, in essence, a marathon, not a sprint.
In conclusion, having health goals isn't about the grandeur or the social media bragging rights. It's about making that conscious decision every day to make healthier choices, though they might be difficult at first. Remember, a healthy you is a happy you!