When embarking on a new health venture, many people fall into the trap of setting a goal as step 1. Setting a goal is an important step in making a health behavior change, but before you articulate that goal, you need to know WHY it is important to you. In other words, you need determine your optimal health vision and values. Otherwise, you run the risk of setting a goal that is set by someone else, which is potentially setting yourself up for failure.
For example, say you go to the doctor for your annual checkup and are told that you are obese according your Body Mass Index (BMI)* and are pre-diabetic**. He tells you that you are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and having a stroke, and will likely develop full blown diabetes unless you lose weight, exercise, and overhaul your diet. This means cutting out all excess sugar and processed foods, exercising for 30 minutes a day, and losing at least 10% of your current body weight in the next 6 months.
For numbers sake, let’s say you are a 5’6” female weighing 200 pounds with a BMI of 32.3. 10% of 200 is 20, so your doctor is telling you to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 months (24 weeks). A healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. In order to do this, you need to lose about 1 pound a week. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories, so you need to reduce your net calories by 500 per day. Ideally, this would mean eating 300 fewer calories and burning 200 calories through exercise.
So....you leave the doctor’s office feeling overwhelmed. He’s given you some basic information about diet and exercise, and set some goals for you, but you aren’t sure how you’re going to fit these changes into your life. BUT….he never asked you if these changes were realistic for you, if it is important to you to improve your health, or if you are confident in your ability to make these changes.
Where do you start?
Step 1: Determine your optimal health vision
“How do I picture my best health?”
“How do I look and feel?”
“What choices or behaviors support my optimal health?”
“What behaviors would I need to let go of?”
Step 2: Figure out why you value your health
“What matters most in my life and health?”
“What brings me joy and satisfaction?”
Stay tuned to find out Step 3!
*Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight. Calculate your BMI here. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal. Underweight is anything below 18.5, overweight is 25-29.9, and obese is anything over 30.
**Prediabetes is a precursor to diabetes, where the body either does not make enough insulin to control blood glucose levels or the body is unable to produce insulin. A prediabetic person will have fasting blood glucose levels higher than normal (<100), but not high enough to be considered diabetic (>126). The prediabetic fasting glucose level range is between 100 and 125.