And focus on health goals that are fluid and flexible
It is literally impossible to remain in perfect health 100% of the time. There is a plethora of reasons for this, ranging from exposure to viruses, bacteria and microbes, use of medications, varying degrees of stress, varying degrees of sleep deprivation, different life stages (adolescence, pregnancy, breastfeeding, ageing etc) or health states (chronicity, progression etc).
Because your body is in a state of almost constant fluidity so should your approach to your health. Why set a rigid plan of don’t, avoids and non-negotiables? Only a small fraction of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t think it’s because it’s too hard/impossible to change or that living a healthy life is unachievable. I think it’s because we make our goals unattainable by being too rigid with the what, when and how we are going to achieve these goals. We implement these punishment and reward systems to try and get us there (lose this much weight and you can eat this, buy yourself x item, get married, go on holiday), and if you are the parent (or spend enough time with children) you will know that these systems generally don’t get you the results you desire. Or maybe they do but the outcome is very short lived, like asking your children to behave and they can have ice cream and then watching said good behaviour deteriorate once that last lick has occurred (not that that has ever happened to me ;P).
I see many clients who have goals of losing x amount of weight by x amount of time, or to completely quit sugar/cake/chocolate/coffee/cake and never touch it again, or to stick with that diet or protocol they were told they *must* do or they’ll never be healthy. Although I work with my clients closely to achieve some of these goals, I also work with them to be flexible and realistic in how they improve their health. My number one aim when you work with me is to come up with a plan that is practical, achievable and sustainable and completely specific to you.
I am not suggesting that you can’t or shouldn’t want to lose weight, improve your diet or exercise more, I’m suggesting coming up with goals that allow the ebb and flow of life to occur, that fit in with your work/home/parenting/studying schedule and that allow you to veer off the ‘path’ and come back to it. This will enable you to have the most long-term results and leave you feel empowered and in control of your own health.
Here’s a few ideas:
Instead of focusing on weight loss in a specific period of time that can only be achieved by sticking to a strict and restrictive diet, why not focus on eating mindfully, eating what you enjoy and addressing other factors that may be affecting your weight such as stress, sleep or hormone health. Ditch the timeframe and accept that it takes time to implement and see changes.
Or instead of focusing on weight loss to change your body shape or size or because someone told you you needed to lose weight, focus on self-compassion and love, eating well and moving your body because it makes you feel good. Or focus on feeling good and loving your body as is and not focusing on weight loss at all.
Instead of going cold turkey and quitting sugar or processed foods, why not increase cooking and eating the healthy foods you love and enjoy. How about ensuring that you are nourishing and caring for your body instead of depriving yourself or keeping yourself hungry in situation when there are no alternative foods to eat? We have so many nourishing and delicious recipes here on the website.
Instead of addressing your mental health by asking for help on online forums, signing up to free programs that will ‘cure’ you or force yourself to meditate when it never seems to work for you, how about spending less time online and more time outdoors? Or book that appointment with your doctor to ask for a mental health plan and lock in a session with your psychologist. Or see a naturopath (like me!) who will spend the time with you to come up with a plan to support and nourish your nervous system, working together with your GP and psychologist/therapist.
Health is a fluid process, with which we need to be flexible and adaptive.
Set health goals without focusing on perfection
Focus on health goals that easy and uncomplicated to implement and that have a positive effect on other aspects of your health. For example, you want to have more energy. Instead of signing yourself up for the latest multi-level marketing ‘transformation’ that promises more energy with a magic pill, ask yourself ‘am I really getting enough sleep’, ‘what is the quality of my sleep’, ‘how stressed am I’, ‘am I expecting too much from myself right now’, or ‘when was the last time I had a blood test?’.
Perhaps set a goal of going to bed 20 minutes earlier each night and avoiding any screen time in the hour before bed or cut back on alcohol consumption in the evenings or your second coffee after lunch.
Getting more sleep may flow onto better health choices the next day or hitting the gym, going for a walk or run before starting your day. These slight changes over time may mean that you shift a little weight that in turn makes you feel good and motivated to continue with these changes. Or maybe more sleep means less coffee throughout the day, reducing nutritional deficiencies and dehydration.
And if you really want to lock in some health goals, make them S.M.A.R.T
Focus less on ‘nailing it’ and getting those perfect results, take the shame and guilt out of improving your health and you will see wonderful changes. Set goals that are SMART with a focus on just a couple of goals to get you started:
Specific: choose a specific and well-defined goal. Ask yourself what do I want to achieve, how, when and why?
Measurable: how will you measure the outcome and determine when you have achieved your goal? Define the physical manifestations of your goal.
Achievable: is this something you can achieve?
Realistic: set yourself up for success. Are your goals realistic in terms of your schedule, the time frame and other variables?
Time bound: set yourself a deadline or even several deadlines but keep the timeline flexible and realistic allowing for things to come up or for that goal to be adapted as time goes on.
And don’t forget, I am always here to assist you get your health goals on track in a way that is sustainable and achievable.
If you need a little help planning things out or want to take the stress out of improving your health, book yourself in for a consult and let’s get started! x Renee