The title says it all! When coming up with health and nutrition goals, focus on one nutrition or lifestyle concern at a time.
Nutrition and lifestyle goals sitting in a tree: K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes patience. Then comes consistency. Then comes the healthy groceries in the grocery store carriage. Okay, that’s not exactly how the children’s song went. But, when it comes to goal setting, it’s important to kiss—keep it super simple. After all, multi-tasking is doing multiple things at the same time, poorly.
And remember – while January tends to be the key time for new goals, don’t let this restrict you! Every day is a great day to plan to reach a new goal.
If the resolution is to eat more lean meats, low-fat milk, calcium-rich foods, and whole grains, you don’t have to tackle them all at once! Selecting a single behavior to focus on can help prevent feeling overwhelmed and instead enable sustainable changes for the long-haul. Don’t wait; try the goal development exercise later in this article with the kids to take that step today toward a happier, healthier family!
When coming up with health goals, remember that healthy lifestyle changes happen over time, not overnight. Keep nutrition simple by choosing one change, learning more about it, and then incorporating it into your family’s eating habits. Once a small behavior alteration gets mastered, take the next step forward!
You have to walk before you can run. Sprinting too quickly towards a healthier lifestyle can leave you burnt out, frustrated, and slipping back to your old ways. So, it’s critical to be realistic with your intended changes! Take an inventory of your current lifestyle behaviors and habits to identify areas that have room for improvement. Then, hone in on a particular change to start your family journey towards a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Step 1: Come Up With One Health or Nutrition-Related Goal
Not sure where to focus your goals? Check out these healthful ideas:
- Find ways to add more color to you and your kids’ meals! Focus your objective on ways to add fruits and vegetables with vibrant, distinct colors. Each different color comes packed with its own unique “fight-o-nutrients” and health benefits. Spark interest in your colorful mealtime creations by including your little ones in the cooking process. It will not only improve their health, but it’s a simple way to hold everyone accountable.
- Identify areas in your eating patterns where there is room for improvement. These could be high-calorie processed snacks, skipping breakfast, or consuming excess empty calorie foods. Make a list of behaviors you would like to change and order them by their level of priority. Then, brainstorm the qualities and actions that are necessary to make this change happen.
- Find ways to add more movement into your days! Don’t simply jump into an hour-long advanced fitness class or hard-core personal training if exercise is a new developing habit. If kids have never exercised before, Crossfit may not be the best starting point! Instead, add 10-minute bursts of physical activity, and work up to 30 to 60 minutes a day. You can even opt for something enjoyable like a family bike ride. Small changes make a big difference. Have a family brainstorming session to think of fun-filled indoor or outdoor games to help keep the family active.
Step 2: Evaluate Your Goal
Ask yourself the following questions:
Is this goal realistic for me and the kids to achieve?
While it’s great to dream big, sometimes we bite off more than we could chew. If that’s the case, there is no shame in reevaluating your goal and modifying it to something more feasible to accomplish. Don’t worry if your adjusted change seems small— starting small is okay! You can create a new goal once you achieve the first one.
What’s my timeframe?
Pick a timeframe to reach your goal that can help you stay on track! Make sure to choose one that is reasonable for you and your family.
Is my goal specific enough?
Making specific goals can make it easier for you and your family to put them into action and be successful. For instance, saying that you want to increase your physical activity is too broad. Instead, make it more specific, such as with the example below.
Broad Goal: I will increase the amount of time I exercise on a regular basis.
Specific Goal: I will go for a 30-minute walk with the kids after dinner five days a week, from Monday through Friday.
Who can I enlist to support me and keep me on track?
Social support is another key ingredient to successfully achieving your goals. While your goal may be a solo mission, it takes teamwork to make the dream work. Brainstorm on how to involve friends or family to increase accountability, motivation, and support to keep on track. For instance, If you have a friend that also wants to start walking more, set up regular exercise dates to help each other succeed! Or, get the whole family involved and go on regular after-dinner walks together. Getting your partner or kids on board will improve their health, too!
After taking these questions into consideration and reformulated your goal:
- Write it down.
- Post your goal in a place where you will see it every day, to motivate you to keep at it! You can always change or modify your plan as needed.
- Once you succeed, come up with a new goal and keep riding that positive change train!