Ask Dr. Julie / Diet and Weight Loss / Exercise Plans / Health / Health & Wellness / Holidays

It’s Never Too Late for a Healthier You and a Healthier Body

Boy did 2018 go by fast…

Just because 2018 is in our rear view mirror basically, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to achieve all those health goals you had set for yourself on January 1st 2018.

Every year, my patients in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose, CA, come in to see me with new year’s resolutions and by end of the year, many of them are disappointed in themselves for not having met them. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed over the years on what’s helped you guys create more attainable health goals (so as not to then feel badly later when you can’t achieve them if you started out with unattainable ones), also how to stay on track throughout the year, and also how to play catch up a bit later in the year so you end the year on a high note.

First things first, set the right goals and set goals that you can actually achieve.

This might sound super straightforward and you might be thinking that this goes without saying, but you’d be surprised at how often that happens where the goals that are being set sound reasonable but are in fact unattainable.

So, how do we figure out what’s doable or not?

The most important thing in this process is to take a realistic look at what you are able to achieve on a daily basis that’s reasonable. For example, if you normally work out twice per week for 30 minutes, if you set a goal for I’m going to work out daily for 30 minutes, even though that’s what I want for all my patients, it’s just not reasonable in your schedule and you’ll set yourself up for disappointment. The best way to do this is to set up your goals around what is actually actionable for you. For example, your health goal could be that on a good week, you add 2-3 days more of working out and on a bad week, you make sure you for sure at least still get in 30-minute workout twice that week. This way, you at least ensure you don’t backslide and because you then become more encouraged about meeting your health goals, you then can reasonably get up to maybe three days per week where you get in 30 minutes per day and then by the next year if you apply the same rule, you’ll get up to four days per week every week at least etc etc. Be sure to encourage yourself when you reach these realistic goals to keep yourself motivated.

Most of the time, I see people doing more at beginning of the year and then almost not much by the end so if you ensure you’ll at least do 2-3 days per week, you’ll be better than the year that just passed and as the years go by, you’ll do more and more and be on an upward trajectory that you can be proud of.

If you find yourself getting off track, I have my patients do self-checks quarterly so they can see how to get back on track. The way to do that is to write down what your health plan was and is, then check in quarterly about where you are at and brainstorm on how to get back on track if you’re not on track. This way, you’re not feeling dejected by end of year where it’s already holidays and ‘where did the year go’ kind of comments fill your head and you feel bad you didn’t get close to your goal.

Finally, if you are already in that last bit there where you are feeling dejected and thinking ‘boy, where did the year go,’ it’s not too late! You can still get some of your health goals in. Whether it’s to prep for new year goals or to feel like you ended the year tackling your last year’s goals and hence feeling like the time just passed you by and you didn’t do what you wanted, the key here is that you have to acknowledge the reality…the reality is that it’s a busy time of year whether it’s rounding out the year or starting the new year, so again, set realistic goals. Instead of going to gym daily as you might have set as a goal earlier in the year, morph it to be that you’ll exercise daily and that could be busy dancing in kitchen when doing dishes or dancing or doing hand-weights at home during commercials on shows so that you total 30 minutes daily of exercise.

The point is you can get to your goals, but you might have to morph the way in which you get to your goals. Maybe instead of weights, do push-ups and planks in living room or just blasting your favorite tunes and dance around your home. The key is be flexible about how you get to your goals but still achieve some of your goals so you feel empowered to set more health goals in the new year.

At the end of the day, I’m so happy that you are reading this and that your health is important to you…that, my friend, is already something you should be proud of. Happy Holidays!

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