Give yourself a pat on the back! You made it through the first month of the year! If things didn’t start out as expected, it’s ok! You still have 11 more months to make 2018 the year to reach your health and fitness goals!
Those of you just joining me on my journey, I am sharing my system for building healthy habits over a year by setting small, sustainable goals each month. Check out last month’s post to find out more on how to get started!
This year, I wanted to start out small and set one goal for January to practice yoga, stretching, or meditation first thing in the morning for at least 15 minutes, at least three days per week.
How would I rate my success this month? I give myself a B+.
Being a proud, straight A student, I know I could’ve done better. I did pretty poor the first few weeks, not meeting my goal. That being said, I didn’t give up on myself, turned things around, and finished strong!
Reflecting over the last month, the theme for January would be adaptability. Life doesn’t go as planned. To achieve our goals we have to be able to adapt to situations that are constantly changing. The ability to adapt to evolving circumstances is a key to becoming successful.
I figured since I wasn’t working 3 days a week, I would easily be able to achieve my goal of completing 15 minutes right after I woke up on my mornings off. Within the first week of the month, I realized that practicing first thing in the morning was more difficult than I had planned.
A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to work with a friend part-time and make some extra money cleaning houses. Work is scarce in the islands right now, and this is good pay so I couldn’t say no! Of course, this interfered with my plan by reducing my off days.
On my days off, I usually enjoy a slow start to the day and, before I realize, I have been awake for several hours. On days that I work, I inevitably sleep through my first few alarms and am rushing out the door to work.
Starting off the month, if I didn’t get my 15 minutes of yoga done in the morning, I considered myself a failure and gave up on that day. That is why I decided to adapt my goal and focus on practicing yoga three days a week no matter the time of day. Once I allowed myself to adapt, I found it became much easier to get in my three workouts each week.
Overall, when I look back over this month, I may not have reached my 3 day goal every week, but I have definitely increased the total number of days that I practiced yoga or meditation compared to any month last year.
In the past, I would’ve set an impossible goal, like yoga for 2 hours everyday. I would have focused on the negative and considered myself a failure for missing even one day. Most likely, I would’ve fallen further away from my goals, discouraged by my need for perfection.
January might not have gone as well as I planned. Letting that affect how I move forward and tackle this next month, that would be the biggest failure.
Negativity is ugly. It’s not only unpleasant to be around, but I truly believe it makes our hearts ugly.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not some happy-all-the-time, singing about rainbows and unicorns, type of person. Actually, I’m the exact opposite. My instincts are cynical and my personality tends to have a more pessimistic outlook.
Therefore, I have to work constantly to stay positive in my daily life. Often, I am not successful and negativity overwhelms me. The last thing I need is to add stress by placing focus on the negative when it come to setting health goals.
How to stay positive when setting your health goals this month!
Focus on setting positive goals that add value to your life, instead of restrictive behaviors. When we set goals that limit our behaviors, we are less likely to meet them.
Let me know if this story sounds familiar to you….
You are an avid meat eater and set the goal to completely cut out animal products and become vegan. At first you feel great with your new diet. You stop eating out and are cooking all your meals at home. When your friend calls to invite you to dinner for her birthday at a steak house, you politely pass because you don’t want to ruin your new diet.
After a while, this new diet may become hard to maintain. You begin to feel like you are missing out on opportunities, and avoiding social situation because they revolve around food and “temptation.” Eventually, you become frustrated and sad because you miss your friends and certain foods so you give up and go back to the way you were eating before.
Does this sound like you? I know this pattern is one I repeated for years during college in attempts to lose weight and get that perfect beach body by spring break. In the end, I was always back to where I started. The diet was abandoned completely and any weight lost was soon re-gained. I was back to the same old unhealthy habits.
Instead, you know what I should have done differently? Chosen a goal that adds or creates a specific healthy habit.
Make the goal to eat more fruits and vegetables instead of cutting out all animal foods completely. If you are focused on eating more fruits and vegetables, odds are you will naturally eat less of the energy-dense animal foods. However, if your friends invite you over for a BBQ, you can accept without guilt or falling off the wagon.
By shifting the focus of our goals to become positive, we are nurturing our mental health. If you focus on ADDING more healthy behavior to your life, you will have less time for the unhealthy ones.
My Goals for February
Of course, I will continue to work on my goal from January and practice yoga three days a week for at least 15 minutes.
In the spirit of positivity, this month I chose goals that would add something new to my routine. I’ve lived on St Thomas for over a year and feel like there are a ton of places, foods, and other things I haven’t tried.
Hence, I have decided to set the goal every week to try two new things.
- A new local food or healthy recipe inspired by Caribbean cuisine
- A new exercise class, gym, hiking trail, or other form of exercise
One big improvement I can make for next month is to track my goal. I started off tracking the days I did yoga and quickly stopped. I notice when I write down and track how I’ve completed my goals, I am more likely to meet them for that week. Hence, I have set the unofficial goal this month to track my progress each week in my daily planner.
Keep following along for more inspiration and guidance on how to meet your health goals this year!