Five Questions to Consider to Maintain Your 2024 Health Goals

Author: McLaren Flint

The new year brings about people’s collective resolutions, aiming to improve an aspect of their individual lives.

One of the most popular resolutions is health.

Countless people have resolved to better themselves and their overall general health through increased exercise, more conscious food choices, and the avoidance of some bad habits.

While you are setting your goals and cementing your commitment to them, set yourself up for lasting success by considering these five questions, and discussing them with your primary care provider.

What is the current state of your health?

Knowing your vital stats (such as blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, body mass index, etc.) is a great way to establish a baseline. This will allow you to create specific goals and track your progress.

What would you like to do?

Do you want to lose weight or body fat? Improve your diet? A person’s general health is a vague subject. Increase your chances for success by clearly defining what you’d like to improve upon.

“Don't try to make big changes right away,” said Heather Werlinger, certified family medicine nurse practitioner at McLaren Flint-Community Medical Center. “Start with one small change. For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, instead of trying to rearrange your entire normal diet and exercise routine, start by reducing your portion size. Instead of eating out for lunch, start packing a lunch. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. After you have implemented these changes for 3-4 weeks and they become a habit, then add more. This will help to make long term change by creating healthy habits.”

What is your plan for achieving this goal?

Will you start exercising more or adjust your diet? Choose a path that best fits your routine and personality to create healthy habits that will create lasting success.

“Keep a journal to track your progress,” said Werlinger. “Get your family involved so you can do it together. Make regular appointments with your health care provider so they can help keep you on track. I love it when patients come in and we can celebrate removing a blood pressure medication because they have lost weight.”

Are your expectations realistic?

It’s easy to say you’ll run 10 miles a day, but will you stick to it day in and day out? Is it even possible to lose 30 pounds in 30 days? Unrealistic expectations will ultimately lead to discouragement, prompting the abandonment of goals and any resolve to achieve them. Consult your doctor to set realistic expectations and reasonable timelines.

Joyce John, certified nurse practitioner at McLaren-Flint Grand Blanc Community Medical Center says being specific when setting goals and setting well defined goals that are concrete rather than broad, can help keep your expectations realistic. “For example, instead of choosing a broad goal of "I want to exercise more”, a more specific goal would be to walk 20 minutes a day. It’s important to set reasonable, realistic, and attainable goals to prevent discouragement.”

What is your motivation?

The steps taken to improve your general health are positive life changes, but what is your true motivation? Are you doing this for your family? To feel physically better? To feel mentally better? Know why you’re striving after these goals, and remind yourself of it often.

“It is all about creating healthy habits,” said Werlinger. “If you make small changes slowly, they eventually add up to big changes. Remember, you didn't get where you are overnight, you are not going to fix it overnight.”

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