“Wellness” seems like a buzzword thrown around a lot these days. What exactly does it mean? Every person defines it differently for themselves. Generally, in health and wellness coaching, we are referring to: nutrition, fitness, sleep, mindfulness, and stress management. The goal is to achieve overall wellness in all these areas of our lives.
Regardless of your current wellness state, there is always room for improvement. Many start New Year’s resolutions, professing to lose weight, eat better, and be healthier. These are great wellness goals, but they lack a plan and direction. This year, consider setting a wellness goal instead of a resolution. A resolution often sets us up for failure if we do not commit completely or start something we are not actually able to do. A goal, however, can be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-oriented).
Ask yourself this question…
How do I want to feel next year at this time?
Let’s take a look at some ways you can improve your overall wellness, by creating SMART goals.
SMART NUTRITION Health and Wellness Goals
Nutrition is paramount to physical health. Food is fuel. It provides the body energy to do all the things your life requires. You’re on the move from the time you get up, taking care of your families, jobs, and communities. Being tired when you don’t have time to rest is awful. Choosing whole foods and eating as close to the earth as possible, without preservatives and additives, will fuel you.
Try these tips to help focus on Nutritional Goals:
- Choose a specific goal. Set a reasonable goal you can accomplish and feel good about. For example – Cut soda to only one a day. Incorporate veggies into every dinner meal. Make one meal a week that’s plant based. Begin to track your food in an app like Cronometer or MyFitnessPal.
- Continue to improve. Once you are able to drink only one soda a day, maybe you can cut that further to only three a week, etc.
- Increase protein so you are more satiated and not looking for something else to curb your hunger. Choose grilled chicken, turkey meatballs, greek yogurt, or nuts. You can also add a protein shake if you still need more.
SMART FITNESS Health and Wellness Goals
There is no need to be a crazy workout person. If you like to work out and it makes you feel good to do intense cardio, CrossFit, or other exercise regimens, go for it. It has the potential to be an amazing stress reliever and exercise is great for your heart and bone health. If that’s not you, that is ok too. The goal with fitness is to MOVE. Every single day. Push yourself to get outside or on a treadmill and walk for at least 20 minutes. Being outside in nature has an added benefit and can help clear your head. Run, walk, bike, swim. Whatever you do, just MOVE.
Try these tips to help focus on Exercise Goals:
- Have a plan. Decide what you like to do – group classes, walking alone with your dog, meeting friends to swim, or meeting up with a neighbor for a quick 30 min jog. Whatever it is, decide what you will actually do. It doesn’t matter what you think you “should” do. If that’s the case, you won’t do it. Do what will make you happy.
- Get a new pair of shoes. Check the tread on your current shoes. If they are worn, you need a new pair. Worn shoes can cause knee, back, and hip pain.
- Think about setting a step goal. A new mega-analysis study showed that those who had 6,000 steps had a 126% higher all-cause mortality risk versus those taking 16,000 steps a day. If you’re looking for a step goal, 16,000 can be your new target. Look at your life and ask yourself, what’s realistic? How can I push myself a little bit? When you accomplish that goal each day, you will be proud of your effort to make it happen. You can always change your goal. Once you reach that first goal, take a chance and increase it a bit. You might surprise yourself.
SMART SLEEP Health and Wellness Goals
You need sleep. It is critical to your ability to function. Sleep provides brain and heart health, improves memory and mood, reduces inflammatory markers, repletes energy stores and so much more. You know the recommended number of hours of sleep for adults ages 18 – 64 is seven to nine hours a night, but do you get that amount, and is it consistent?
Try these tips to help focus on Sleep Goals:
- Sleep Hygiene is preparation to get a good night’s sleep. Some options are – turning off electronics at least 2 hours before bed, ensuring the bedroom is quiet and dark, limiting alcohol and food right before bed, and getting exercise during the day.
- Consider going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day. Consistency and quality of your sleep schedule are both critical.
SMART MINDFULNESS Health and Wellness Goals
Mindfulness is being present in the current moment. Be where your feet are. Be aware of what is happening and what you are doing right now. Try not to think of what is going to happen, could happen, or might happen.
Try these tips to help focus on Mindfulness Goals:
- Breathe. Take a three second breath through your nose, then blow it all out through your mouth. Do this at least three times.
- Slow down and be purposeful. Drive slower. Intentionally plan so you do not pack too much into your day. Take a step back and slow it down.
- Pray or Meditate to get grounded and refocused.
SMART STRESS MANAGEMENT Health and Wellness Goals
Stress is everywhere. Think about the healthy ways you can relieve that stress. Can you exercise, take a walk, or meet up with a friend to talk? Identify what you can do when you are stressed, and stress will come, so you have a toolbox of ways to help alleviate that stress.
Try these tips to help focus on Stress Management Goals:
- Set boundaries. So many of us say “yes” to everything and anyone who needs us; however, there is a point when we need to say “no.” Spend time thinking about those boundaries. What can you do and what is too much? Certainly, help as much as you can, but when you start getting over stressed, stop and evaluate your next steps.
- Try journaling. Write down what’s going on and reflect on how you are feeling. Gratitude journaling can also be very effective for staying positive. It doesn’t always come easy and it sometimes takes work to find the joy in everyday life.
Reflect on Your Health and Wellness SMART Goals
These are a lot of ideas of how you can create SMART goals to work on your health and wellness. Remember SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time oriented. You can set SMART goals around your wellness at any time. Though it can be very overwhelming if you think of ALL the things you know you “should” do, try to think holistically. Break it into smaller steps by picking a couple of these key wellness concepts and focusing on them. Maybe you work on your nutrition for the first couple of months, then make the decision to focus on fitness for months four to six. It doesn’t mean you lose those things you learned in the first couple of months. You can build on them. However, you decide to break it down doesn’t matter. Create a plan to be better today than you were yesterday.
A very important aspect is to CELEBRATE your wins! You will definitely have them. Was it perfect? Nope! No one is perfect. But if you are working towards your goals, you will make better choices every day. Give yourself grace in the process.
You can do it!
You are worth it!
Beth Bookout is a certified health and well-being coach, group fitness instructor, and nutrition coach. In addition, she holds a Master of Public Administration from John Jay College and a Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy. She has been a military spouse for 20 years and has four children and two dogs. She and her family currently live in Holly Springs, NC.