How many times have you told yourself that you’ll start your new health goal on Monday?
Too many times to count?
Why is that?
Sometimes we have this idea in our head that we will be able to make drastic changes and eliminations all at once. But in reality, it either never starts, or it ends much faster than you wish. It’s easier to make small goals leading up to a large goal, and to make substitutions rather than eliminations.
When I was going through a tobacco cessation training, we talked about how it’s difficult for those addicted to nicotine to just stop smoking all together. Instead, they promoted the replacement of smoking with something healthier, even if it was a small step. That idea can be used for everyone!
Nobody likes to give stuff up. Especially carbs. I mean, who doesn’t love bread? Diets that challenge you to give up 10 huge parts of your life are HARD. And they usually don’t make it past the challenge time frame.
If you had a 30 day challenge to eat healthier or exercise more, it’s likely that you’re counting down until day 31 when you can eat a burger and skip the gym. Diets and activity challenges are a part of our culture, but we should be focusing on making improvements for the long haul.
Substitutions and goal setting are a few ways to achieve that.
There are tons of substitutions that you can make that will improve your health, but won’t drive you away. For example, instead of eating white bread, get a bread that’s 100% whole wheat so there are more vitamins and minerals. Instead of seasoning foods with salt, try using herbs and spices!
As for physical activity, you can set a goal for yourself to walk more. You can set a limit on where, if your destination is less than half a mile, you’ll walk instead of drive. You can do exercises between Netflix shows, park further away from the grocery, build a standing desk, take stretching breaks, or even add in some calf raises while you brush your teeth. If you like multitasking, adding in some exercises during your day should be a breeze. Plus, when you’re physically active in small bursts throughout the day, you’ll have an easier time focusing!
When you’re setting these small goals, it’s important to make them S.M.A.R.T. The ‘S’ stands for specific. If your goals are too broad, they’re harder to stick to. The ‘M’ stands for measurable, meaning there’s a way to evaluate your achievements! The ‘A’ stands for attainable, in that it’s something that can physically be done. The ‘R’ stands for realistic, which helps balance out the ‘A’. Just because something is able to be done, doesn’t mean that it’s realistic for your schedule! The ‘T’ stands for time bound, because you want to know when you will evaluate yourself! It’s important to set small goals with a short time span that work up to a larger goal further down the road.
While Instagram may highlight no carb, no dairy, non GMO, vegan dishes paired with a 3 hour high intensity workout, it’s not for everyone. It’s important to find a schedule that works for your lifestyle. Setting SMART goals for yourself and using substitutions instead of eliminations should help you get to where you want to be!