Time for a Health Check?
With Easter just around the corner, it’s a good time to consider our health – before we over-indulge, or at least to get back on track afterwards!
Afterall, 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:
And being fit and healthy has synergies with goals you may have for other aspects of your life such as recreation, friendship and family goals. So take these synergies into account during your goal-setting journey to kill 2 birds (or 2 goals) with the same stone!
- Your general health goals – your age, family health history, weight and condition. These will all affect your health goals.
- Weight loss – 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.
- Healthy eating – 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.
- Life balance – stress management, sleep and relaxation are all important in maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.
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:
A good starting point when setting health goals is to see your doctor and get a physical assessment of your general health.
- 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?
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.
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 you 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.
Monitoring your health goals
Setting suitable time frames 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:
It may take 12 months or longer to achieve your particular health goal, but the good news is that you will start to feel the benefits in terms of good health straight away.
- 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.
Similarly, being able to measure progress towards a goal is critical for setting and achieving goals. Measuring health goals can be as simple as measuring:
- 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 – and this is the real point of setting health goals!
A better measure for you may be a ranking type system based on these feelings of general health and wellbeing.
If you need a hand achieving your health goals, then try hiring a personal trained for a couple of sessions a week – at least to set you on a path and steer you in the right direction. If you’re confident in working your path out yourself, then don’t forget something like the GoalsGuy’s Personal Strategic Plan as a tool to help you set and achieve your health goals.
But for the time being, enjoy your Easter holiday – after all, it pays to live each day as if it’s your last because one day you will be right! And keep reading for two free tools to help you and your family keep your health in check.
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‘10 Year Health Plan’
The ToolBOX on the website contains FREE forms, templates and worksheets for all your goal setting needs.
In the section on “”Health Tools” you’ll find a 10 Year Health Plan. It just looks like a simple calendar of months, spanning a 10 year timeframe – and it is! So you can easily create your own personalised 10 year health plan if you prefer.
The purpose of this plan is to give you a birds eye view of major health events in your life. More specifically, it can be used to record:
So the 10 Year Health Plan serves 2 purposes – as a reminder of your up-coming routine health checks, and as a health history. This is particularly useful for your doctor in diagnosing ‘mystery’ illnesses and conditions [that hopefully you never get!] that may be related to historical events such as holidays in exotic locations.
- Major illnesses or injuries – record what the illness or injury was? When did it occur? How long did it take to recover? What treatment was required including any hospitalisation, rehabilitation and medication required. This information is important in case there are future recurrences related to this injury or illness.
- Recurring illnesses and problems – if you notice recurring illnesses or problems such as regular bouts of tonsillitis, a gammy knee that plays up now and again or other niggling health issue, record when these occur and under what conditions they occur, so you can get a picture of the frequency and when you are most susceptible. This information can help your doctor with a diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Health alerts – these might just be little things that happen that you think may have a health impact in the future. Things like exposure to asbestos or chemicals, a holiday to an exotic location or an animal bite. Also record any family health problems that may be hereditary – for example if a parent or sibling develops cancer or a genetic disease.
- Lifestyle changes – changes in living location, working conditions and stress levels, and general environment can influence your health. You may not notice any changes straight away, which is why it’s worth noting any significant lifestyle changes on your health plan.
- Routine health checks and vaccinations – make a note on the health plan when you have a routine check-up [skin check, bowel cancer screen, breast/pap/prostate check, general health check] or vaccination boosters and more importantly, mark on the health plan when you are due for your next check-up or vaccination so you don’t forget.
Of course, a more detailed health plan may be beneficial if you start to notice recurring problems such as headaches, fatigue and the like. You can record exactly when and under what conditions these problems occur, which can be very helpful for your doctor in making a diagnosis.
For more information on looking after your health, refer to the “”Health Goals” tab on the NavBar.
‘Healthy Family’ checklist
The ToolBOX on the website contains FREE forms, templates and worksheets for all your goal setting needs.
In the ToolBOX you’ll find the “Family Health” checklist, and with the American “Thanks Giving” rapidly approaching I thought it would be helpful for all of us to reflect on our family and the health of out family units.
Now the “Family Health” checklist isn’t about whether your vaccinations are up to date or not, it’s about how well your family Unit is functioning. The checklist has been adapted from research by the Family Strengths Research Project in Australia, which identified the key strengths that characterised happy and healthy families.
These key strengths are:
So the checklist asks you a series of questions that tests your family in each of these strengths. When going through this checklist, the important thing is to be honest – maybe do it as a family activity to get everyone’s point of view. You may be surprised what answers you get!
- Communication - Families benefit from open two-way communication that is loving, understanding and patient.
- Sharing Activities - Happy families share activities together.
- Togetherness - Children need to be involved in some of the decision making if they are to feel like a worthwhile family member. Happy families share a feeling of togetherness.
- Support - Happy families support and encourage each other.
- Affection - Happy families show their affection for each other in a variety of ways.
- Affection - Families are made up of different individuals with different needs and, sometimes, different values and beliefs. Happy families are able to show acceptance of these individual .differences.
- Commitment - Happy families have a genuine commitment to each other.
- Resilience - Happy families show their resilience.
And of course, if you identify any gaps in your happy family checklist then as a family, make a commitment to filling these gaps.
So go ahead, do the family health checklist and make your family your number one priority this month.
For more information on family goals, refer to the “”Self-Growth Goals” page of the website, under the “Popular Goals” tab on the NavBar.