Many times I find that people take action without really knowing what they hope to get out of it. They have a desire to change, but what that means is not well-defined. Subsequently, even though people have “followed the plan,” they do not feel successful and experience mounting frustration.
How do I start working towards my wellness goals?
The First step is to set goals that pertain directly to your motivating desire so you can learn how to best progress towards them.
Being crystal clear about your goals, desires, and your plan of action is the single most important factor of successful programing for any change in lifestyle. The first step is to really know and understand why you want to make a change. This may require some real soul-searching, and you may find that questioning your underlying motivations is hard work. It may seem like just doing something without thinking about it is easier, but without the effort it is unlikely that you will find the path that is right for you. Taking the time to truly get in touch with the reasons for wanting to change will help you avoid wasting valuable time and effort.
For example, many people say that they want to lose weight. I find that most who state this goal are not clear about why they want to lose weight. You need to ask yourself about the underlying motive for weight loss. Do you want to lose weight to look better? Do you want to lose weight because you are worried about your health? Do you want to lose weight because your spouse wants you to? Do you want to lose weight to become more fit and feel more energetic? It’s important to get to the root of your desire so that you can feel at least a measure if success when you reach your outcome. If the answer is all of the above, then I urge you to prioritize the reasons. Once you have done this, designing a program is a lot easier and makes a heck of a lot more sense.
How will I know if it is working?
The next steps involve designing a program to meet your goals and choosing the right measures of success.
Depending on your goals, this may be a complex process. This is where a health and wellness professional can be a tremendous asset. An experienced professional can help you design a program, determine appropriate measures of progress and success, and establish a realistic timeline as well as intermediary assessments and goals.
In order to clarify the importance of effectively establishing a priority goal and effective measures to meet them, I will use an scenario I have frequently come across. A client has been told they are at risk for heart disease given family history. They are hoping to begin a program of exercise in order to lose weight and as well as focus on cardiovascular training. This represents someone with a priority of health. This is someone who believes that through cardiovascular exertion they will lose weight and place them in a better standing with regard to their risk for degenerative heart disease. These clients are destined for very little return on their invested time if they do not look more thoroughly at the goal, the actions required to reach it, and the measurements of their progress in the process. When trying to reduce the risk of heart disease, measuring weight loss may not be the best method of assessing progress, nor would measuring the distance you are able to run in an hour. While cardiovascular exercise might be part of a plan of action to increase heart health, weight-loss may be a coincidental result of the plan. Measuring exercise and weight alone will not give an accurate evaluation of progress, since heart disease exists in the population of both endurance athletes and individuals of appropriate body mass.
It is also the case that many people train for a marathon and cross the finish line without having reached an appropriate body weight or having lost any real weight to speak of. For a more comprehensive look at heart heath, it might be helpful to review the human physiology a bit more deeply . This could help develop measures to provide information regarding metabolism and stress levels, as well as coordinate with a physician to review blood labs. In this way you can take responsibility and play a more active role in the decisions that effect your way of living and how they could impact your health.
If your motivation is well-assessed, an obvious improvement in heart health, which comes with moderate to very little weight loss, could be achieved. At that point your focus may shift to another wellness priority, away from the idea of weight loss, now that you have reached the health you were hoping for. You could also decide to begin working more specifically on weight loss instead. In either case, a new set of actions and methods of evaluating progress will have to be explored.
The reason it is important to use resources and become more informed is that ultimately the decision to act is yours.
I have had many physicians as clients. It is the general consensus for all health care professionals that the patients and clients with the greatest success are the ones that are self-directed and hopeful. These traits can be harbored by a greater awareness of one’s self and the subjects pertinent to the actions which need to be taken. When someone knows what they are going to do and why they are doing it they are much more likely to be compliant.
The process of exploring and discovery as well as planning and programing will bring confidence that you have set your foot on the right path.
You will know that you have reliable mile markers along the way. You will not get lost, frustrated, or fed up and will be able to enjoy the journey. Hopefully, the journey will be so interesting, self-affirming, and fulfilling that you will yearn for more and will envision and undertake further ventures, always aspiring for a happier, healthier state of being.