Setting health goals with a positive mindset
During the end of the holidays, people are motivated to set new health-related goals and may even set New Year’s resolutions as a way to reach those goals. While this may work for some, some resolutions may come with unwanted negative self-talk or may be doomed from the start due to unrealistic goals.
“We’ve all been on that merry-go-round of setting lofty scale-driven goals that usually don’t last by the time the next new year’s comes around,” says CALLAN WALL, owner and registered dietitian with Tula Wellness in Wilmington. “Contrary to popular belief, if you’re looking to improve your health, focusing on weight-related goals is not the answer because this usually leads to weight cycling which has been shown to have adverse health risks.”
WILMA recently caught up with Wall to get her thoughts on approaching new year’s resolutions or overall health goals from a positive mindset.
WILMA: What are some ways to set realistic goals that aren’t driven by scale numbers?
Wall: “Focusing on weight-related goals would be considered ‘outcome focused.’ What if you switched to setting goals that are ‘process focused,’ like behavior-based goals. Some examples might be:
– Drinking a minimum of 64 ounces water per day
– Setting aside 20 minutes for daily self-care (maybe you fill that time with exercise, sitting down and having a balanced breakfast, going for a walk outside, reading a book, etc.)
– Establishing a healthy nighttime routine to support higher quality sleep (turning off screens within 30 minutes before bed, reading a book, taking a bath, etc.)
– Aiming to eat a fruit or a vegetable with most meals
WILMA: How can intuitive eating help people looking to add more balance to their meals?
Wall: “Intuitive eating is an evidence-based framework used to improve health, body image, and your relationship with food. There are ten guiding principles, and one of them is: Honor your Health with Gentle Nutrition. Gentle nutrition uses nutrition strategies to help you build a balanced meal that not only considers the macronutrients on your plate (like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber), but also considers taste preference and satisfaction. Intuitive eating allows for you to turn inward and treat each meal as an opportunity to learn what foods feel good in your body and satisfy your soul, something that no fad diet can offer! Intuitive eating involves making nutrition decisions that honor your hunger and fullness, your taste preferences, your emotions, and all from a place of self-care and body kindness.”
WILMA: What are some common unhealthy ads or advice that some people may be exposed to during this time of year that they should be mindful of?
Wall: “Start noticing all of the new diet fads, cleanses, and weight-focused advertisements that surround you after the holidays, whether it be TV commercials, on social media, or in your email inbox. The weight loss industry is an over $72 billion industry that prays on your insecurities, offers you false hope of a better life and quick-fix solutions that don’t last, and then blames you for when you’re not able to maintain the diet program so that you turn back to the weight loss industry to try something else.
– Shift your language – notice how you speak about your body, about food, or about health in general. Become aware of any black-and-white thinking you may be carrying with you that leads to ‘all or nothing] type behaviors. Using binary terms like should/shouldn’t, good/bad, guilt-free/indulgent, or clean/toxic causes a disconnect between body and mind, and can affect your behaviors around food and exercise.
– Pay attention to the phrases like ‘New year new me’ that cause a toxic relationship between you and your body.”
WILMA: Instead of setting full-fledged health-related resolutions, what else can people do to improve their overall well-being?
Wall: “Health is multifaceted and if we are only focusing on nutrition and exercise, we may be neglecting other important areas of whole-person wellbeing, including stress management, sleep, maintaining regular medical appointments, and social connection.
– Non-diet resolutions: Buy clothes that fit your current body; establish a consistent stress management routine; eat three balanced meals/day; cook at home during the week; start an exercise regimen that is enjoyable (not for punishment or for the purpose of shrinking the body); practice daily gratitude (toward yourself, your body, and others!); hydrate with 64 ounces minimum daily; drink less alcohol; daily stretching.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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