You only have one body – so look after it! By setting yourself effective health goals, you’ll maximise your life span and enjoy your life more too!
And it’s important to understand that health and well-being comes from the combination of your lifestyle factors, and not just one aspect of it – lifestyle factors are all inter-linked. This means that to improve one aspect of your health, you need to focus on your overall health profile and life balance.
Setting successful health goals therefore need to consider the following factors:
general health goals
– your age, family health history, weight and condition. These will all affect your health goals.
– something we all seem to struggle with from time to time, but you need to take control of your health to allow weight loss to happen.
– food is your fuel for life, and also provides the building blocks for maintaining your body’s structures.
Exercise and fitness
– a fit body is a healthy body.
– stress management, sleep and relaxation are all important in maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle
And being fit and healthy has synergies with goals you may have for other life aspects, as goals in this life aspect may also enhance:
- Your ‘Recreation’ life aspect, if your health and wellbeing activities become a ‘hobby’ to you.
- Your ‘Friendship’ life aspect, if your health and wellbeing activities take you to a gym or involve other people in some way. You may even meet a partner!
Your ‘Finance’ life aspect could also be involved if you ditch the car and ride your bike to work!
Take these synergies into account during your goal-setting journey to kill 2 birds (or 2 goals) with the same stone!
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Making a Start
Like all goal setting, the first step in the process is to evaluate your current situation regarding your health and then ask your self what you really want to achieve.
So you need to know your starting point. You can define your starting point by asking yourself:
- What are your current health statistics – height, weight, Body Mass Index, girth measurements, etc. – how do these compare with normal measurements?
- Do you exercise? How often and for how long?
- Do you get enough sleep? Do you feel tired or do you have heaps of energy?
- What is your fitness level – can you walk 5 miles without stopping? Can you jog 5 miles and how long does it take? What weight can you lift? How many squats/ push-ups/ chin-ups can you do?
- Do you have any bad eating habits – are you addicted to a particular food or type of food? Are you an ‘emotional’ eater? Do you eat enough?
- Do you have any ailments that affect your health and wellbeing? Do you always seem to be run-down or picking up the latest cold or flu in town?
- Do you often feel depressed or stressed?
- Is there a health history in your family? Do you know what your health weak links are?
- Do you have any other bad habits that affect your well being – smoking? Alcoholism? Drugs?
A good starting point when setting health goals is to see your doctor and get a physical assessment of your general health.
They may then refer you onto other specialists such as a nutritionist/ dietician, and will also be able to give you some good guidance on what you need to be working on - whether it be quitting smoking, losing weight or just getting a little more exercise.
More importantly though, your GP will tell you what particular risks you need to look out for if you are about to embark on a fitness campaign – so use this advice wisely when setting your health goals.
There’s also a health checklist in the ToolBOX, under the section on 'Health Tools' – use this as a starting point.
Like all good goals, you need to ‘research’ the goal before you commit to it and to enable you to prepare suitable Action Plans for achieving it. So what do you need to know about health goals?
The human body is a very complex thing, which is why people study at university for years to become doctors and nutritionists. Fitness trainers also have to learn how the body works and interacts so that they don’t cause harm to the people they are training.
So, you can’t expect to learn all there is to know about how the human body works, but you should try and gain a basic understanding of the biology behind the goal you are trying to achieve whether it be:
- The relationship between diet, exercise and weight loss
- How the body’s metabolism works and how diet affects it (both good and bad)
- The fundamentals of Safe/ good eating habits
- Safe levels of exercise and good forms of exercise
- Successful methods for beating smoking, alcoholism and drugs
- Your particular ailment (if yo have one) and how you can manage it/ how it affects your life
- Stress management and dealing with mental health issues
- The importance of getting a good night’s sleep and achieving the right life balance.
Talk to the relevant health professionals and research on the Internet until you’re comfortable with your understanding of your goal and have a good idea how to progress your action plans.
The text links at the top of this page discuss some of the basics.
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Monitoring your health goals
Setting suitable timeframes for action items and goal completion is critical for achieving goal setting success.
Setting timeframes for health goals is highly dependent on your starting point, but some general indications are:
- Allow yourself 1 week per kg of weight you want to lose.
- Allow yourself 3 months to get in to peak physical fitness.
- Allow yourself at least 6 weeks to quit a habit like smoking, and maybe even longer for alcohol and drug dependency.
It may take up to 12 months to start ‘feeling’ healthy and energetic or overcome some other particular health ailments, again depending on your starting point.
Similarly, being able to measure progress towards a goal is critical for setting SMART goals. Measuring health goals is one of the easy ones – you can measure:
- Your weight, BMI and body measurements
- Performance of physical activity – for example, how long does it take to run 1 mile, weights and number of repetitions, etc.
- Number of cigarettes smoked/ alcoholic drinks/ drugs taken per day
There are also some more subjective measurements for ‘health and wellbeing’ goal setting, such as how energetic or tired you feel, how ‘healthy’ you feel, how ‘confident’ you feel and the presence of any ailments.
A better measure for you may be a ranking type system based on these feelings of general health and wellbeing.
Read this article on how to attract vibrant health with affirmations for more information.
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