Lifestyle Changes to Reach Your Health Goals
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Lifestyle Changes for 2019 to Reach Your Health Goals

By Guest Writer Laurie Larson, a freelance writer in North Carolina, writing on health, home, and lifestyle topics.
January 8, 2019

It’s that time of year again when everyone is setting unrealistically high goals for their New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, most of these resolutions won’t stick past February.

The main reason so many people fall short on their resolutions is because they set the wrong type of goals. Most resolutions are related to improving one’s health by losing weight, exercising more, or cutting out unhealthy food groups. It’s not to say that these are bad goals to set. The problem is that they are not specific enough.

When you make a New Year’s resolution, or any type of goal, it should be a smart goal. That’s S.M.A.R.T.

What’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

A smart goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. You should avoid setting broad goals like “lose weight.” How much weight? Is losing weight the primary way to benefit your health? When do you expect to see results?

By narrowing down your goals and checking all of these boxes, you will make sure that you’re setting the best, most relevant, and reasonable goals for yourself.

What’s a lifestyle change?

In order to truly benefit your health, you’ll need to make serious changes. A lifestyle change is not doing a crash diet for two weeks and then throwing in the towel. If your health goals include weight loss like most people’s do, you’ll have to evaluate multiple facets of your life and make the necessary changes.

Some of the most important areas of your life to focus on include your knowledge about your diet, changing your attitudes about exercise, fixing your sleeping habits, and prioritizing your mental well-being.

Becoming more knowledgeable about your diet

Many people are under informed about the foods they consume and have trouble managing their diet because of that. Instead of making assumptions and deciding to cut out all sugars or all carbs, take the time to do important research about nutrition that can benefit you and help you understand how to manage your own meals with balance.

For the sake of your health, it’s vital that you understand the importance of a balanced diet. Without proper nutrition, your body’s organs and tissues will not work as effectively. When you give your body the nutrients it needs, your body is more equipped to fight disease and keep you functioning properly.

So before you go searching for the latest fad diet, make the effort to understand how the foods you consume fuel your body.

Change your attitudes about exercise

The gym is never fuller than it is the first week of January, but by March it’s usually back to its usual numbers.

If you want to make efforts to have exercise be a bigger part of your routine, you’ll need to set your attitude and expectations accordingly. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore on your list. If it is, you’ll be far more likely to dread it and push it off.

You also shouldn’t assume that “exercise” only means going to run on the treadmill and lift dumbbells at the gym. There are many different types of exercise that you can actually enjoy doing and get a good workout out of it. To name a few you could join a local sports team, try out racquetball, jump rope, go for a swim, or dance!

Exercise is whatever gets you off your feet and gets you moving, but it also should be fun. When you change your attitudes about exercise, you’ll be able to get workouts in doing activities you enjoy.

Improve your sleeping habits

You may not think of the effects of sleep deprivation going beyond just feeling a little extra tired the next day, but the long-term effects of sleep deprivation can be detrimental to your health. Missing out on proper rest can hold back your workout progress, fog your mind, and lead to more serious health conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

In order to improve your sleeping habits, you need to create more consistency. First, be more consistent about the quantity of sleep you get (at least seven hours each night). Then, focus on the quality of sleep you achieve.

There are many factors that take away from the quality of your sleep, whether that be an uncomfortable or old bed that causes you discomfort, noise disruptions, or light pollution in your bedroom. Take the measures necessary to set yourself up for better quality sleep to benefit your overall health.

Prioritizing your mental health

You probably want to “be happier” in 2019. To achieve this, you’ll need to learn to prioritize your own mental wellbeing.

Everyone’s self-care routine is different; it’s not all bubble baths and yoga trips. Finding what works for you and making more time for it is the most important thing you can do this year. To make it more tangible, physically schedule it into your calendar, even if your version of self-care is allowing yourself to spend an extra hour watching your favorite TV show to give your brain a break.

Another important change is learning how to say no. When you prioritize yourself for the sake of your mental health, you’ll have to learn how to deny others when it doesn’t work for you. This is a challenging concept, but a necessary one to achieve better mental health.

By committing to these lifestyle changes, you’ll be on your way to actually maintaining all of the goals you set for yourself in January all year-long.

Here’s to a year full of positive change and meaningful progress!