A Recipe for Better Health

We're now several weeks into the New Year and starting to find our footing. Have you thought of your fitness goals for the year?

Last time we talked about setting achievable goals as part of an action plan. In this post we'll look at some common hangups to getting started and some tips and tricks to get you unstuck.

As regular readers may remember, we looked at how to craft an action plan last year. In short, an action plan should answer:

  • What? [Specific action YOU want or decide to do]
  • How much? [Time of day] on [day(s) of the week]
  • How often? [Number of days in the week]

Basically an action plan is a recipe for better health.

Like a recipe, an action plan breaks down the process into easily completable steps. Also like a recipe, following your plan requires setting aside time, energy and doing a little preparation beforehand. This is where many of us get stuck…

As we know, having the best mindset when we wake up doesn't always lead to results once we're up and going. It's really easy to get distracted from what we planned to do. Instead of trying to strengthen our will power, we'll probably have more luck tricking ourselves into doing it.

One way is to make a to-do list for the next day in the evening before going to bed: 1. Turn off the alarm. 2. Don't go back to sleep. 3. Walk to the kitchen. 4. Make coffee.

Putting "Turn off the alarm" on the list might seem silly (and it is). But as you check off each of the items, it will help motivate you to keep going and to stay on track.

Another technique is to make a different list of goals you want to accomplish someday, starting with the big ones. Like "Learn Spanish" or "Run a 10k marathon." Follow these big goals with smaller, nearer term goals. Like "Walk 30 minutes every day," for example.

If some of your goals seem unachievable, that's okay. Because if you're like us, you won't get to them right away. Instead, you'll put your energy towards accomplishing the more immediate, achievable things on your list.

While we hope this approach (called "structured procrastination") is helpful for getting you into the habit of exercise, perhaps you have your own approach. We at the Missouri Arthritis & Osteoporosis Program offer a variety of evidence-based exercise classes across the state to fit different needs. If you want a good starting place, consider putting us on your to-do list.

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