Setting Health Goals- for Wellness

Setting goals seems to be a problem for many of us. We say that we want to become healthy, but where to start? We say that we want to be fit, but what is the first and second step? Lots of us have exercise equipment at our home. And many of those pieces of equipment are actually either collecting dust or holding clothes that didn’t quite make it to the closet or the laundry. That treadmill or stationary bike or rowing machine is just sitting there. There was a time when it at least chided you, and chuckled as you waddled by, but now it just sits quietly and doesn’t make a sound, except when you stub your toe on it in the darkness of the early morning.
And then there is the fridge… that black hole of empty promises to your self. You have been telling yourself that you will start eating better. You buy some fruits and veggies, and they are rotting in that bottom drawer. But those cheese and crackers aren’t going bad, are they? And those chips and dip… oh, yeah, they haven’t gotten stale.
But what were the reasons for buying those fruits and veggies and that treadmill? You had good intentions, what happened to them? Did you eat any of those fruits and did you ever even turn on the treadmill? How long did either habit last? Why did you stop? I’m sure you had some great excuses… I mean, reasons, of course.
1. Too busy with (insert your reasons here, like: soccer carpool, painting the house, refiguring the national debt), and you just don’t have the time right now.

2. You’ll do it later, (like after your youngest graduates high school, or college… or weans their first born).

3. You’re not too sure what exercises to do or foods to eat. (So, sticking with what you have been doing that got you to this point is a great idea).

4. You just don’t have any motivation right now. Maybe in the future, say when all the planets align in one straight line on a Sunday afternoon, in a year that ends in an odd… or even number.

5. You’re feeling pretty tired these days with everything going on. You’ll get to it once you have some energy…. and that will be… when?

So, what is the key to get going? Setting goals.
There are a few simple things to keep in mind that will help you get and stay on track when setting goals. It may seem a tedious task, but several studies have concluded that setting goals and setting them to paper and keeping them in front of you is the biggest help you can give yourself. It isn’t just setting goals, but mapping out your strategy for achieving them. In this way, you’ll likely be more successful and feel more satisfied when you achieve them.
So, the first thing you must be is specific. “I’m gonna lose weight,” is not specific. “I’m going to lose ten pounds of fat in one month,” is specific. That’s a good goal, you just need to add to it. When putting this all to paper, you’ll add a strategy, a reason why, and a visual aid.
Have you ever seen a teenager’s room, or locker? They have pictures all over it. Cool cars, hot chicks, guys that look like pirates, lots of pictures. These pictures represent things they want. And you need to do the same thing. If you don’t have a few old, but not too old, pictures of yourself in the body you are trying to achieve again, then get some pictures of somebody else. And they should not be pictures of so-called supermodels, standing in a burlap sack that is the newest style somewhere in the world. No, find a picture of someone real who is really doing something that you would really like to be doing.
You won’t find these pictures in Cosmo or any of those other high-fashion, what-your-boyfriend-really-thinks-when-you-ask-him-what-his-favorite-color-is, type magazine. You need to be looking at climbing, running, bicycle, snow sports, etc. etc. magazines. You go through these magazines and when you see a landscape that really knocks your socks off, pull out that page, tape it to your wall, and look at it every day and make a plan to go there and do something physical.
Find pictures of people hanging upside down from a rock wall or cliff face, put them up. Climbing doesn’t excite you? How about a lean body running down a trail or beach? Or a fit and trim body doing Yoga, or lifting Russian Kettlebells, or biking in the Black Hills or  The Dakota 50? You need to find a physical activity that trips your trigger and illustrate it all over the place. If you carry a day planner, put a picture of something inspiring on the front page. And your trigger might not be the same as mine or anybody else’s. I have found that few people get as excited about my Viggo Mortenson montage as I do.
Whatever works for you, you need to find it and get a visual sense of it and keep that visual sense in front of you.
I have come across an acronym and some advice that might help you set and attain your goals, especially if you are new to goal-setting. Once you have some experience with goals, I would encourage you to take risk. But let’s start here:

S.M.A.R.T-R (pronounced “smarter”)

SMART-R stands for:



A-Action oriented



R-Reasons why

Your goals should be detailed, clearly defined, and stress exactly what you’re going to do and what you want to achieve. The goal needs to be specific so that you can see it, attain it, and measure it. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight, set a specific goal to lose 3 inches off your waist or lose 5% of your body fat. “I want to lose weight” is different from “I want to lose 10 pounds of fat and gain muscle mass by doing 3-5 cardio workouts and 2-3 strength-training workouts per week, over the next month.” Of course, once you achieve this goal, you need to maintain it… by doing 3-5 cardio workouts and 2-3 strength-training workouts per week.

Know where you are starting from and where the end should be. For example, if losing a percent of body fat is the goal, then you need to know what your percent of body fat is right now. If your goal is to lower your cholesterol, you need to know what you level currently is. In short, get tested. For body fat percentages, go to a gym or somebody who can measure your fat percentage with calipers, or another accurate method. There are lots of ways to measure body fat, but not all are accurate. But whichever method you decide to use, use the same method and the same person when you check for end results. If you use the caliper method, go back to the same person to check your “after” or “during” results. Get your blood tested for cholesterol and triglyceride levels and then test again later.

I would not suggest using a bathroom scale for any measuring. They are very inaccurate and your weight can fluctuate several pounds each day. I cannot stress this enough. Also, there are things that you can’t measure, like happiness and self-appreciation.

You can’t just think yourself to success, you really need to physically do something. You need to figure out what action you need to take and then you can take it. Decide which classes you are going to do, or when you will do your cardio and how. For example, “I will run X miles each morning, or Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I will do strength-training, Tuesday’s and Thursdays and every other Saturday.” That’s action-oriented.

This may be where we lose a lot of you. What one person thinks is reasonable, is pure fantasy to another. The thing is that many “fantasy” goals can be reached if given enough effort. And that’s entirely up to you. This may be where you decide it is worth your time to have some personal help. If you say you want to lose ten pounds in a month, that’s a lot different than saying you want to lose ten pounds in 2 weeks. Both are achievable, but have very different plans of attack. The latter goal depends on much bigger lifestyle changes. But you can still do it.

If you make the goal of losing ten pounds in two weeks, but don’t make the lifestyle changes needed to achieve that goal, you will be disappointed and lose motivation. Not a good thing.

You need to give yourself a schedule. Set a deadline. If you set the goal to lose ten pounds, but don’t set a deadline, what pushes you? Yes, you can still progress slowly, but it might be so slowly that you don’t notice it, therefore quit. Not a good thing.

Reasons Why
So, first you decide that your goal is to lose ten pounds of fat in one month but you need to have a personal reason why. Something that touches you for the long term. Your “reason why” is the motivation for you to achieve your goals, and it’s probably the reason behind why you bought the treadmill or the rotting fruits and veggies.

“I want to look good at that wedding, or that reunion or dance,” is not long-term. “I want to feel good about myself when I look at myself in the mirror, and I want to be able to play with the kids and grandkids, and I want to do the Dakota 50 when I’m fifty, or 60, or 70 (maybe we can get Perry to add a few age classes), and I want to climb a different pile of rocks or cliff-face every summer, or I want to run in a couple marathons each year and beat my time each time. These are long-term and more personal. And the added benefits of achieving these goals is that you get to look good at the reunion or wedding or dance.
If you lack clear reasons for doing something, why would you do it?
Now that you have a guide to setting goals, get to setting.