Planning to be Healthy is a Gift We Give Ourselves

As 2013 rushes to its close, we’re all faced again with the proverbial “glass half full or glass half empty” opportunities the end of one year and beginning of another provide us. We can look back and lament about all the well-intentioned health and wellness options we never fulfilled, or make a firm and achievable personal wellness plan designed to improve our physical, emotional and spiritual health in 2014 and beyond.

But first, it’s the holidays — take it easy and enjoy! That may not sound like sage nutritional advice, but we all know what the coming weeks bring. It’s a stressful time of year without putting additional pressure on ourselves. Eat and drink consciously and in moderation, try substituting healthy snacks like vegetables and fruit when possible, and think about your personal goals. Be it eating more healthfully, exercising more, finding time to relax or whatever suits you, change takes place progressively and through conscious choice. Making resolutions is as old as the hills, but setting simple goals includes taking the time to determine how you’ll achieve them, and how you’ll measure your success. This isn’t difficult and may be the best gift you can give yourself as we approach the new year.

When it comes to reasonable health and wellness planning, simple, achievable and realistic are our keywords. Here are some tips to help guide your steps:

  • Acknowledge a realistic vision of success. If losing weight is one of your goals, set a realistic number and timetable, so you can achieve your goal safely. Take the time to learn about potential problems, such as vitamin deficiencies or other health risks that accompany weight loss, and read about sugar, fat, carbs, and the chemistry of food. Also, talk with your physician, fitness expert and/or a licensed nutritionist about longer-term lifestyle changes that will help you achieve your mission.
  • Adopt an effective strategy. Focus on relatively short-term goals, like eating vegetables four times a day, cutting back on carbs and sugar, eating healthy snacks, and doing at least 20 minutes of cardio a day for the next few weeks. Keep track of your efforts daily and weekly by writing on a calendar or maintaining a journal, and create simple “rewards” for your weekly or monthly successes, such as buying a gift or doing something personally meaningful.
  • Review and adjust your commitment. To be successful you have to set goals, measure your progress, and adjust. Be flexible — if you find, for example, that walking every day is impossible, walk four days a week, or longer on the weekends. Sign up for a yoga or fitness class. And when you give in to that yummy, calorie-rich dessert, don’t despair…tomorrow is a new day. You know yourself better than anyone — make adjustments that will work for you if you fall off the wagon or fail to achieve your weekly goals.
  • Use the “buddy system.” Tell a friend about your goals and see if you can work out, walk, or practice your new diet together. Share helpful articles and tips, check in regularly, support each other when you miss a goal, and celebrate your individual and mutual successes.

Ultimately, the best advice about getting healthier is to just get started and don’t give up. By setting realistic goals and a simple, formal plan, the gift of improved health and wellness is yours to keep.

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Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!