How to Set Realistic Health Goals and Stick with Them

How to Set Realistic Health Goals and Stick with Them

A person’s overall health has a powerful impact on their life. When you are physically well, you are less likely to feel aches, pains, or have decreased mobility. You’ll be better able to do the things you love and enjoy life to the fullest. That’s why it is so important to be proactive when it comes to your health.

While there may be things you cannot control, there are many things that you can. You can adopt a lifestyle that is healthier by getting enough exercise, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding harmful substances. It won’t necessarily prevent every medical problem, but it will lower your risk for many conditions.

One way to stay motivated and maintain a healthy lifestyle is through goals. Setting goals gives you an objective to work towards. When you know what you want to achieve, you can come up with a plan and make decisions that will get you there.

It takes work and commitment, but it’s extremely satisfying to reach a health goal. Doing so will encourage you to take on the next challenge. Before you get started, read the following to learn how to set realistic goals and what you can do to give yourself the best chance at success.

Make Sure Your Goals Are Clear and Well-Defined

You have to know what your goals are before you can work towards them. It’s best to write them down somewhere or save them in a goal tracking app. When doing this, make sure you set goals that are clear and well-defined. 

For example, many people want to lose weight. This is a good starting point, but you need more specifics. Just saying “I want to lose weight” isn’t enough. You need to come up with the amount of weight you would like to lose. A better goal would be “I want to lose 10 pounds in the next 3 months.”

This level of detail will help you determine what you need to do and allow you to track progress so you can gauge whether you are on track. 

Choose Realistic Goals and Timeframes to Reach Them

Along with detailed goals, you also need to have time frames to reach them. There is no set limit. It should be based on your needs and ability.

Goals must be realistic. Setting unrealistic goals will only lead to frustration and disappointment. While it’s good to be motivated by those who are more fit or healthy than we are, it’s important to not focus too much on other people. Your goal should be to improve upon where you are now, not where someone else is in their fitness journey.

Using the weight loss example, it would be unrealistic to set a goal of losing 100 pounds in 3 months. While it isn’t impossible, it cannot be done in a healthy way in such a short period of time. Most people expect to take 6 months to a year to lose that much weight.

Whether your goal is weight loss or something else, make sure you are realistic about what must be done and how long you have to do it.

Know Your Health Status and Needs Before Setting Goals

Before you begin working towards a health goal, make sure you are aware of your health status and needs. If you haven’t been to a doctor in a while, it may be time to schedule a check-up. Share your goals with your physician to get their input on whether they are realistic, safe, and good for you.

A medical professional can help you adjust your goals if needed or advise you of anything to watch out for as you work towards them.

Don’t Let a Setback Stop You from Making Progress

Eventually, you may face a setback. Maybe you ate something you weren’t supposed to or skipped a workout.  Maybe you went back a few steps in your progress. It’s ok, this happens to everyone at some point. 

What’s important is not what happened but how you handle it moving forward. Don’t let disappointment stop you from continuing. Keep pushing and you will get past the setback and start making progress again. It is a daily effort, so your journey may not be a direct line all the time. You may veer off occasionally and need to redirect yourself to get back on the path to success.

Reward Yourself When You Reach a Milestone

Rewards are an important part of goal setting. Plan to do something that you enjoy when you reach a milestone. This should be something that won’t work against your goal (or won’t do so too much). Take yourself out to a movie, do an activity you enjoy, or plan a special outing with friends.

Balance is essential to a healthy, happy life. You shouldn’t expect yourself to do all work all day long with no opportunities for fun or relaxation. It’s important for mental health and can prevent you from feeling burned out or unmotivated.

Have a Backup Plan in Case of Unexpected Events

Things don’t always go the way we want them to when we set a goal. Schedules may change or bad weather may make it impossible to go outside and exercise. Prepare for these situations by having a backup plan.

If bad weather is preventing you from going outdoors, switch to an indoor exercise routine. If you don’t have time to prepare a fresh healthy meal, have some quick nutritious options on hand. Think about your plans and what could go wrong, then have a backup ready so you can keep making progress no matter what happens.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself with Too Many Goals

Many people have multiple health goals in mind. This is a good thing, but make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself. Trying to make too many big changes at once can lead to failure. Instead, pick one or two and start working towards them. 

Once you make progress and the changes become a normal part of your life, you can introduce another goal. Do it when you are comfortable and feel ready to handle the additional work and effort required. Slow and steady gets you to your health goals!

Record Your Progress to Improve Your Process

Keep track of your progress in a journal or app on your phone. This will help you stay focused and gives you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. It can also be valuable information if you need to discuss any goals or changes with your doctor.

Your journal entries don’t have to be lengthy but make sure you include important details like what you did, how much progress was made, what you ate, how you are feeling, and anything that’s changed since you last made an entry.

Goal setting is a great way to improve your health. Complete Women’s Healthcare is available to discuss your wellness goals and help you come up with a plan to reach them.