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Health Goals for a New Year

Havre, Montana – January is a month of new beginnings. Many Americans make resolutions to lose weight or to exercise more. But most resolutions are broken by March, if not sooner.  Usually one’s motivation is lost when results are not immediate.

When planning for a change in your life such as achieving a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to set small, achievable goals. Becoming a healthy, fit adult requires changes for the long term, but can be celebrated along the way.

Dr. Kevin Harada, Internal Medicine Provider at Northern Montana Health Care, adds, “The key to losing weight is to set realistic short-term goals. Whether it’s 10 pounds or 100 pounds, the weight needs to come off slowly and steadily to ensure a permanent change. Attempting to lose a considerable amount of weight entails perseverance in your efforts and sustainable life changes.”

But is the scale the final determiner of your success? Adding muscle can actually add weight to one’s body. Measuring your waist and thighs over time and paying attention to how your clothes fit can help you track how your body’s changing.

And if you do get stuck in a rut, don’t be afraid to ask for some help. “Studies have shown that support groups or just having someone else encouraging you will help make you successful,” Dr. Harada adds.

It’s also important to understand that health and well-being comes from the combination of your lifestyle factors, and not just one aspect of it – lifestyle factors are all inter-linked. This means that to improve one aspect of your health, you need to focus on your overall health and life balance.

When setting successful health goals, consider the following factors: your current health status, weight loss goals, healthful eating, exercise and fitness, and life balance. Knowing where you’re currently at makes it easier to determine how far you need to go. Be truthful and honest in assessing yourself.

The next step to starting a leaner, healthier lifestyle is to write down what you want to achieve. Goals give you something concrete to aim for. Define your specific goals. Do you need to lose weight, or just change your eating habits to be healthier? Do you need to tone your body, or do you have a specific fitness goal in mind? A 5K or a Fitness Walk can be great goals to strive for. Do you want to increase your energy level and stamina? Do you want to improve your overall mental status and manage stress? Do you want to live longer and improve the quality of your life?

Quantifying your goals helps your success because they can then be measured. Whether it’s less pounds on the scale or a lower blood pressure reading, a quantifiable goal can easily be measured. Realizing that you feel better, sleep better, and have more energy is another way to tell if your changes are working.

You should also set a timetable for your goals.  American author Napolean Hill once said, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” Your goals should be realistic and achievable. You should also have accountability to your goals. Making plans to exercise with a friend makes it more difficult to skip the session. Even telling your friends and family that you are attempting to eat better will make it harder to cheat on your healthy eating goals.

And finally, your goals must have a positive purpose. Ensure that your goal is about you, and not anyone else’s expectations of you. Think about how you feel about yourself today and envision how you wish you could feel. Then set goals to achieve that vision. The New Year can mean a New You.

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