Health Advocate Blog

Ask a Health Advocate: How can I get back on track with my healthy goals?

You may have started off the New Year with the best of intentions to make some healthy changes to your lifestyle. But it’s not always easy to stick to your goals. We’re halfway through January now, and your progress with your goals may have stagnated. These tips can help you get back on track!

Revamp your goals. One big reason why people don’t succeed in keeping their New Year’s resolutions is because they bit off more than they can chew. Consider revising your goal to make it more attainable.

For example, if you are a novice runner and your goal is to be able to run a 5K by the end of the month, realize that this is probably not realistic. Beginner runners need more training time for this kind of goal; training too hard, too fast can cause you to be exhausted and frustrated, plus increase your risk of injury. Consider giving yourself more time to meet the goal (could you do it in 3 months? 4 months?), and give yourself smaller milestones to meet along the way. Perhaps your 1-month goal could be to run a mile, your 2-month goal could be running 2 miles…et cetera.

Re-motivate yourself. Even if you’ve given yourself an attainable goal, you may be having difficulty meeting it because your motivation is waning. These tips can help you get re-inspired to meet your goals!

  • Remind yourself why your goal matters to you. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, consider why this is important to you. Is it so you can feel healthier, or love how you look in your jeans? Keep reminding yourself of the why behind your New Year’s resolution, and let that reason guide you to staying on track.
  • Come up with a reward. When it comes to helping you meet your goals, there’s nothing wrong with a little self-bribery! Say you want to lose those 10 pounds over 5 months. Perhaps you set rewards for yourself once you’ve lost 5 pounds, and then again when you’ve met your goal of losing all 10. Fun rewards could be treating yourself to a night out with a friend, buying a new book to read, signing up for a class or lessons to do an activity (like a craft or sport) you’ve always wanted to try, or going on a mini-vacation for a weekend. Whatever you choose, make it something you’ll look forward to and work toward!
  • Try the buddy system. Meeting goals can feel lonely sometimes. Think about enlisting help from a friend! If you have a friend who is also trying to lose weight in the New Year, join forces with her. Together, come up with plans to help you meet your goals, like meeting at the gym or taking a fitness class together, or eating healthy lunches together at work. Working toward a goal with a friend can make it more fun, give you (and your buddy) some much-needed support, and help keep you both accountable.

Start a habit. Putting consistent effort toward meeting your goal can help your chances of success. If your goal is to begin exercising more this year, and you’ve exercised once and haven’t laced up your sneakers since then, it’s time to make a change—and a plan.

Figure out how many days a week you want to exercise, then mark it on your calendar and treat it like an appointment. Make it part of a routine—for instance, you bring your gym bag to work, and after work, you change into workout clothes at the office before driving to the gym. Then once you’ve arrived at the gym, you’re all ready to go!

If you know you ultimately want to exercise, say, 3 days a week, but aren’t ready to do that yet, start smaller. Go once a week for the first two weeks, then twice a week for the next two weeks. After a month’s time of making the gym a habit, you’ll likely feel more prepared to begin meeting your goal of going three times a week. It’s okay to work your way up—what’s important is that you don’t stop trying!

Don’t give up! No matter how motivated you are, or how enticing your reasons or rewards may be, you may suffer a setback when working to meet your goals. This is normal, and it’s something you are capable of bouncing back from.

If you find yourself slipping with a goal, try to limit the damage. If you promised yourself you’d eat healthier and stick to a certain number of calories per day, and now you can’t resist the pizza that was just delivered to your office, aim to eat just one slice instead of several pieces.

Remember that one bad day doesn’t equal failure. Get back on the horse (or into the kitchen, or onto the treadmill!) and try again. Progress is more important than perfection, and you CAN do this!

For Health Advocate members

For members who have access to the Wellness Coaching program, call your Coach for more help meeting healthy goals and sticking to your New Year’s resolutions.