GOAL-SETTING HABITS YOU NEED TO JUMPSTART YOUR HEALTH

Positive change begins with the smallest of actions. In our latest Dual Perspective, fitness expert and Fitwall Director of Coach Education Rudy Thomas first shares his key strategies to jumpstart an active lifestyle that can become second nature, and nutrition Expert Lindsay Chetelat shows how better eating habits can be attainable for just about anyone.

It can be said that potential without purpose equals a wasted opportunity. What that means is that we all have the potential to achieve any goals we want; however, without a roadmap we may not end up exactly where we wanted, with what we wanted. That is one of many reasons that setting a goal (or termed an intention) is so important. It gives us that carrot, that sparkling oasis on the horizon. And when we set it, we can begin to move towards it.

That being said, without something reasonably specific, the goal may be too abstract to put a target on. Being specific with your chosen goal does not mean that you set a goal, reach it, and that’s it. No, personal bests, while always attainable, do not always come in a linear fashion. That means that it is OK to for some of your goals to be “end of the line” goals that you can mark off your list, so you may move your attention onto something else. Here are a few tips to consider:

Set reasonable goals from the start

As goals relate to health and wellness, setting reasonable and attainable goals from the outset is paramount. As with anything in life, setting ourselves up for little victories, allowing for our confidence to increase is fuel for future success. As it is with most things in life that we have never tried before, setting goals takes practice….a little trial and error.

If weight loss is what you seek, set your number and go after it. As you progress toward your goal, understand that you will get there, but have a plan for what’s next. Have something else meaningful that you have always wanted to accomplish, such as running a race, wearing a specific dress or completing a difficult hike.

Make it a small frequent action in your everyday life

Wholesale changes implemented immediately rarely provide sustained results. However, small, purposeful actions done little by little will result in much easier skill acquisition. Everything in life takes practice, and practice is a series of acts done consistently over and over. By staying consistent, you will positively reinforce those small personal habits that we choose to repeat everyday.  

If drinking more water is your goal you could set an alarm for every hour and every hour drink one glass. If you want to be able to do more pull-ups, install a pull-up bar in a high-traffic area of your house and perform 2 pull-ups every time you walk by it. That’s a lot of pull-up practice at a very low cost of two at a time. Whatever the act may be, plug it into your daily routine in a way that doesn’t seem invasive and you will get the desired exposure (and benefit) without a big disruption to your day.

Play a sport or get in nature

One of the best ways to increase total exercise is to go for a few walks a week or join a recreational league. But how do we make it goal oriented? Once again, make it small and attainable. Depending on the client’s previous activity level – maybe it’s setting a goal of going for one 10-15 minute walk with their spouse one time per weekend.

Doing something is better than nothing, and don’t overcomplicate things. Take your dog for a walk, jump in the pool, walk on the beach, walk somewhere instead of drive. Little ‘somethings’ added up over time equal big ‘somethings’ down the road.

Nutrition and fitness complement one another

Fitness goals, whether they be for performance or physique all have one thing in common: neither can be attained very efficiently without a sound nutritional approach. Many of the things we desire, whether they be for more energy or to look better to the opposite sex, can be obtained through the foods we chose to put in our bodies. We literally are what we eat.

Here are a few tips from nutrition Expert Lindsay Chetelat on how to get started, no matter where you are in life.

THE YO-YO DIETER

Have you become hooked into the endless cycle of fad dieting marked by short-term success only to continually find yourself back to where you started initially?  You hold the power to stop the “yo-yo dieting” once and for all with patience and perseverance. The first-step in achieving this long-term goal is to keep a food journal for one month.  Each week, evaluate your progress.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Did I have 3 meals every day?
  2. Did my breakfast contain a lean protein, whole grain, fruit, and low-fat dairy product or dairy alternative?
  3. Did my lunch and dinner contain a lean protein, whole grain, and at least half of a plate of non-starchy vegetables?
  4. How frequently did I choose a food or beverage high in salt, saturated fat, or sugar?

After answering each of these questions, make a note of something positive that you did and something you could improve upon in the upcoming week. Evaluating your progress using these questions will strengthen the quality of your diet.  Slowly decrease the foods in question #4 to 2-3 occurrences per week.  Remember, all foods fit in moderation and balance!

THE EMOTIONAL EATER

Emotions are a fact of life and treating yourself to a bowl of ice cream after a tough day is 100% healthy.  Using food as your sole coping mechanism crosses into the unhealthy realm.  The first step in overcoming unhealthy emotional eating is identifying your emotional triggers.  If you have not uncovered your triggers, keep a food log for one week including all food and beverage intake, time and location of intake, and emotions.  At the end of this week, evaluate your food log for trends in your eating patterns and emotions.  After identifying your triggers, practice these mindful eating practices to effectively manage emotional eating:

  1. Recognize that your instinct to eat in response to emotions is a habit rooted in your past experiences.  
  2. Refocus your attention onto something productive, such as going for a walk, cleaning your house, dancing to your favorite song, checking something off your to-do list, or repeating an inspirational quote in your head.  Also try using your senses to keep yourself grounded in the present moment; find something you can hear, touch, smell, and see.    

With time and patience, the long-term goal is to halt the cascade of emotional eating through proficiency in mindful eating practices and self-evaluation.

THE MEDICALLY-MOTIVATED

When a medical diagnosis for a health condition warrants a specific diet, it can be tempting to make many changes at once to conform to what you may consider a “perfect” diet.  But remember, slow and steady wins the race!  The first step in transforming your diet to meet your medical needs is to make a list of foods or food groups that need to be increased and decreased in your diet.  Pick two foods or food groups that need to be decreased and reduce the frequency with which you eat these foods by half during week 1.  Pick one food or food group to be increased and aim to incorporate this food at least 3 days during week 1.  The goal is to gradually transform your diet without going “cold turkey.”

Under medical circumstances, working with a nutrition professional is recommended to ensure you are nourishing yourself properly while removing foods with little positive impact on your health.


Rudy Thomas is the Fitwall Director of Coach Education and owner of Performance IQ San Diego. Having worked at at some of most elite university athletics programs in collegiate strength and conditioning, Rudy specializes in training groups of individuals to improve athletic performance and overall wellness. 

Lindsay Chetelat, RD, CDN is a NYC-based Registered Dietitian who focuses on empowering individuals to take care of their bodies. Her approach is rooted in helping others gain an appreciation for their bodies through the food they take in, and creating a mindset that transformation is about the progress one is willing to make in their journey, not quick diet fixes. For more practical tips on maintaining our healthiest minds, visit to learn more about Lindsay.

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