As we roll into a new year nearly half of Americans have goals for some degree of health and wellness improvement. By the end of January nearly 80% of these goals fall by the wayside. Much of the reason is because they are either too vague or too ambitious. Here we will help to identify how you can make your goals clear and reasonable, allowing for your health and wellness goals to be fluid and adjust as you need them to.
Health and wellness – two words that are used frequently, probably overused. So much so, that their meaning is diluted, vague, and unclear. For you to progress on your health journey, you must clearly define what healthy means to you.
To be clear, health is a journey. This journey is fluid and everchanging. Health is a practice and no matter where you begin there is no end to the health journey. It changes, it morphs, and adjusts, but it does not end. If there is a destination in health (and that’s a big if) it is to live your life to the greatest and fullest way possible. Always moving toward improving your quality of life. This means you define it for yourself. And you adjust the sails as needed.
What does health mean to you?
Everyone wants to “be healthy,” but what does that actually mean?
Health is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
To translate this from a world definition of health to an individual definition you need to dig deeper.
Taking from this definition, there are three areas of wellbeing to gain clarity around for yourself – physical health, mental health, and social health. These each should be specific for you and for your stage of life. Clearly defining where you want to go starts by asking the right questions.
To adopt Steven Covey’s idea, begin with the end in mind.
What are you looking to solve by being healthy?
What symptoms disappear?
How does health feel to you?
What does it look like?
What are your indicators that you are physically healthy? Mentally healthy? Socially healthy?
Once you gain clarity about how you want to feel then you can walk backwards to find what steps you will take to get there. Here are a few prompts that will be helpful.
Physical health – If your goal is:
For energy levels to be consistent throughout the day
- Do I get enough hours of sleep at night?
- Am I using caffeine or sugar to help boost my energy levels at any time in the day?
- Do I have changes in blood sugar causing energy fluctuations?
To fall asleep easily and feel refreshed when you wake up
- Do I have an evening routine to prepare myself to sleep?
- Am I using electronic devices too close to the time I need to go to sleep?
- Am I allowing for enough hours of sleep each night?
- Have I asked my doctor to check my hormones to determine if hormones are impacting my sleep quality?
For your clothes and/or wedding ring fit comfortably
- Have I checked in with my eating habits?
- Am I snacking too often? Too many sodas? Fast food? Fried foods? Processed foods?
- Do I have an established exercise or activity routine?
To physically move through life easily, such bend down to put on your shoes or carry in multiple bags of groceries at one time
- Am I moving m body regularly and consistently?
- Have I incorporated resistance or weight training into my usual routine?
- Do I do any type of active stretching to stay flexible and limber?
To optimize your lab numbers (glucose/blood sugar, A1c, cholesterol, CRP, vitamin D)
- When was the last time I had them tested?
- How can I decrease inflammation?
- Am I drinking too much alcohol or drinking too frequently?
- Are the foods I eat supportive of the way my body is functioning?
Mental health – If your goal is to:
To manage stress well
- Do I say “yes” to everything?
- Do I have any hobbies?
- Do I take time daily to practice deep, belly breathing, journal, meditate, spend time in prayer, or other specific stress relieving practices?
- What can I take off my plate?
To feel self-confident
- Is my inner dialogue positive or negative?
- What words do I tell myself when I look in the mirror?
- How do I allow other to talk to me?
- Is my social media supportive of the person I am becoming?
To be patient and optimistic
- What information do I surround myself with? People? News? Social media?
- Do I react to situations before completely thinking about the outcome?
- Am I over stressed?
- Do I keep a gratitude journal?
You feel in control of your emotions
- Am I practicing emotional control?
- Am I taking good care of myself?
- Am I maintaining supportive relationships?
Social health – if your goal is to:
Give and take equally in your relationships
- Do I listen with the intention to hear?
- Do I give compliments to others?
- Do I take compliments easily?
- Do I accept help from others?
Have social support and people to lean on when needed
- Do I make an effort to keep connections with the people I love?
- Do I listen with the intention of hearing?
- Do I accept others and allow them to be themselves around me?
- Do I talk to my support people when I need them?
- Do I lend a supportive ear when others need me?
Practice resolving conflict in a healthy manner
- Do I listen with the intent to hear someone else’s perspective?
- Do I take the time to listen to and agree on facts with someone else?
- Do I read the room and observe nonverbal cues?
Depending on where you are on your health journey will depend on how much you take on at any given time. Remember this is a long-term journey – a marathon not a sprint. You decide where you want to start, then take consistent action, check in with your progress, and adjust as needed. Consistency is the key. Only choose to take action on the habits that you can be consistent with. The time to start is now, but there is no clear ending so go at your own pace.
Remember you don’t “get healthy” you work toward “being healthy,” which requires you to take action every day. Health is a pursuit that facilitates behaviors that allow you to move toward what makes you feel good.
Over a lifetime your target of health will change. However, it is always individualized. You define it for yourself. You practice the daily behaviors that help you move forward on your health journey. It is not always the easiest decision, however it is always worth it.