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How to Reach your Health Goals in 2014

by Cheryl Gipson, Health Educator with Juice Plus
Most of us vowed to make changes this year, especially to lose weight and get healthier. Many who made New Year’s resolutions have broken them already;  25% by the first week of January and 50% in the first 6 months of the year.  Usually, people don’t set realistic goals in the first place and are not able to stick to the activities to reach those goals.
Today is the first day of February!  How did you do in the first month of the year? Did you have any measurable results towards meeting your health goals?  If your answer is less than positive to either question, don’t despair!  There are still 11 months, 48 weeks and 333 days left in 2014; plenty of time to reach your year- end health or weight loss goals.
I have several health related goals that I plan to successfully complete this year and I hope you do too!  Here are 7 Easy Ways to get back on track or stay focused if you are already on track:
1)      Review your Goals Regularly and Reset if Necessary
     The best goal setting advice I’ve found is the SMART method.  Resetting your goals to make sure they are S-Specific, M-Measurable,         A-Attainable, R-Relevant and T-Time Sensitive is the key to helping you reach them. Committing to exercise 3 days a week at the gym when you don’t exercise at all is not very attainable.  To create a SMART goal around exercise if you currently don’t exercise at all, is to starting out doing something at home for 15 minutes, two times a week for a month before committing to going to the gym multiple times per week. Once that month is up, you’ll have created an exercise habit that will be easier to transfer to the gym and when obstacles come up, they will be less tempting to derail you.
2)      Get an Accountability Partner
Team up with one or more people to help encourage you as you create healthy lifestyle changes.  Even if your support is miles away, you can still chat by phone or use an app to keep in touch.  I personally love MyFitnessPal, which has allowed me to keep in touch with my friends and family who live far away without relying solely on phone calls.  As long and you and your contacts record your activities, the app will provide updates and encouragement to others without additional action on your part. Remember though, regular contact like talking once or twice per week is the best way to ensure the benefits of having an accountability partner are realized.
3)      Make Small, Easy Changes
Make a small, easy change rather than drastically removing something from your diet.  To completely give up sugar is very daunting if you have sugar in your coffee each morning or a sugary snack in the afternoon. Instead of making the declaration that you won’t eat anything sugary, commit to eating an apple a day. It’s much easier to change a bad food habit by replacing it with a healthier option that is easy to comply with. As I got my health on track over the past few years to manage some chronic conditions, I made small changes that quickly became a habit.  A friend suggested that I always eat something green with each meal.  That small suggestion, years ago was the catalyst to completely transform a majority of the meals I had each week. I’ve even managed to add something green at breakfast on a daily basis by drinking a veggie and fruit smoothly each morning.  Although small changes won’t create the quick and dramatic weight loss that most of us want to see, it will set you up for a healthier lifestyle and make you more aware of your food choices which will eventually lead to better health and weight loss. 
4)      Check in with Your Doctor
Having a medical check- up once per year and consulting with your doctor before beginning a major lifestyle change is a very important step that many people overlook. The annual check-up will provide you with a baseline of your health markers and record the changes in your body from year to year.  Your doctor may also recommend specific action items you need to incorporate to address any issues that may have arisen as a result of your visit.  If you are experiencing a health concern that you’ve ignored, especially a recurring condition, you should seek the proper attention and take the appropriate steps as directed by your doctor or health care professional.  Issues that may seem minor could quickly lead to a chronic illness that may not be reversible and hinder your attempts to get healthier and lose weight.
5)      Get the Proper Rest
Experts estimate that 50-70 million American have some type of sleep related issue.  The lack of proper sleep causes many issues including, depression, weigh gain, inability to lose weight and can aggravate chronic conditions.  The body needs the appropriate amount of sleep to repair cells, restore energy, balance the appetite, regulate hormones and other activities in order for a person to be healthy.  The average adult needs 7- 9 hours of sleep per night. If you haven’t gotten the proper amount of sleep for more than a year, you should consider seeing a sleep professional to determine how to best make improvements to get the proper rest.
6)      Chart Your Progress
Keeping track of your of health related act ivies helps keep you motivated and documents your successes. Use an activity tracker (Fitbit, Jawbone, etc.), fitness app or journal to record your daily progress. Even if you don’t lose any weight in a given week, seeing the improvements you’ve made along the way will give you the mental push you need to stick with it to meet your goals.
7)      Keep a Positive Attitude and Reward Your Efforts
Decide on a non-food related ‘pat on the back ‘for each goal that you meet. Enjoy a massage, facial or take an afternoon off to do nothing.  One of my favorite non-financial rewards is to take a few hours and enjoy reading a couple of magazines or a good book without feeling guilty.
Good Luck, Happy Goal Setting and Improved Health in 2014!

Cheryl Gipson is a Health Educator with Juice Plus, a whole food nutrition company an author of the upcoming book Your Health is Your Wealth, 7 Ways to Permanently Change your Lifestyle for Optimal Health. She can be reached at www.cherylgipson.juiceplus.com


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