Things Not to Do When Making Health Goals

We’re about a month into 2021, and many of us made resolutions that are now forgotten, abandoned or never even attempted. Why does this happen? We all want to be healthy, look good and be successful in our endeavors, but when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, there’s typically more rebelling than excelling that takes place.

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Instead of another list of “should do’s” for a healthier you, I’m suggesting – for greater success – you focus on “should not’s.”

  • Don’t over restrict.
  • Don’t overcommit.
  • Don’t overcorrect.
  • Don’t overthink.
  • Don’t oversimplify.

Don’t Over Restrict

Most people try diets to lose weight. Since you have to create a calorie deficit in order to be successful, some degree of sacrifice is involved. I often hear my clients say they’re following an eating plan that requires giving up sugar, fat, alcohol, dairy, gluten, etc. These plans emphasize the restrictions rather than the add-ins. This may foster deprivation, denial and defiance. The only foods that shouldn’t be part of your plan are those you can’t eat due to food allergies, food intolerances, food preferences, food safety concerns and budget.

Don’t Overcommit

Certain eating plans require a major time investment in preparing, planning and monitoring. Others are so restrictive that they may interfere with social activities or family routines. You may choose an eating plan for ethical or environmental reasons, but plant-based doesn’t need to be plant-exclusive. Follow a plan you can maintain. Do you have to do Whole30, keto or intermittent fasting? Maybe those eating plans are too extreme.

In addition, while exercise is a key part of creating a healthy and fit self, exercising daily may not be realistic if you have never exercised before. You routine needs to be sustainable. Instead of feeling the need to spin, run, lift or swim every day, find a compromise that helps you feel fit without disrupting or interfering with other obligations.

Don’t Overcorrect

You picked the eating plan and selected your workouts, so you’re set, right? What happens if you don’t have the ingredients for the recipe or you have work deadlines that may make you miss a workout?

Trying to be perfect is not a reasonable nor realistic goal. Life happens. Modifications or food swaps may be a necessity. Overeating is not cheating. Missing a workout or two isn’t going to erase all of your fitness gains. Cut yourself some slack and aim for consistency in your efforts rather than perfection.

Don’t Overthink

If your food choices revolve around calories, grams and macros, and fitness is defined by miles, steps, heart rate and reps, you miss the enjoyment derived from food and fitness. You may have health and body goals, but when eating and exercise become obligations and chores, you may rebel.

If you want to be accountable, consider feelings over figures, so instead of counting macros, maybe keep track of hunger and fullness. Instead of always logging miles and steps, focus on newfound energy levels, strength gains and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing a workout. Just say no to comparing yourself to celebs, influencers, friends or family. All of this overthinking gets in the way of creating a healthy self. A smarter and kinder approach is to set goals without comparison.

  • I want to get stronger this year.
  • I want to run further.
  • I would like to add more plants to my plate.

Don’t Oversimplify

Self-improvement is a time investment. Losing weight is not easy. Grocery shopping and meal preparation takes time. Making changes to eating habits requires practice. A weight loss shake, lower calorie frozen dinner or one Peloton class is not going to change your body.

Just removing certain items from your diet is not a guarantee of long-term weight loss success. Taking a daily walk is good for your physical and mental health, but the calorie burn is low and can easily be offset by what you consume. To be successful with a healthier you, do plan to prioritize what you’re willing to do.

Bottom Line

If you resist and try for perfection, you’ll likely fail. Instead, if you factor in the time to take care of yourself, you’ll be more likely to succeed.

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