Advice for setting a healthy goal
For all of you out there wishing to lose weight / acquire a healthier lifestyle / exercise more often, remember to act “SMART” when setting your personal goal.
Be SPECIFIC about what you want to accomplish. For example many people have as a goal to lose weight. In order to successfully attain this goal, it helps to make it MEASURABLE and TIME-BOUND. For example you can redefine it instead as “I want to lose 5 lbs in 2 weeks”. Having a deadline and a tangible objective will help you keep yourself both motivated and pressured to attain this goal.
Be sure to also make it both relevant and ATTAINABLE. Notice how in my example I did not set a goal of loosing 20 lbs in 2 weeks. It is important to be honest and realistic with your lifestyle, work schedule, commitment, and expectations. Also keep in mind that crash diets and crazy cleanses work short term for small weight loss objectives. You are more prone to gaining those pounds just as fast once you go back to your “regular” eating habits. Healthy eating is a long term commitment and lifestyle choice not a short term diet plan. Although it can help you attain those short term goals.
So how do we turn short term goals into long term commitments? The trick is to make losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle RELEVANT. Sure many of us want to to (1) look better, (2) feel better, and (3) be healthier… but there is much more benefits behind maintaining a healthy weight. The trick about making it relevant (and helping you stick to it long term) is to think why this goals matters to YOU. Maybe it has more meaning to you because: (1) you want to set a better example for your kids, (2) you want to lower that high blood pressure or cholesterol, (3) you smoke a lot, binge drink on the weekends or have other unhealthy habits, (4) you want to prevent the development of terrible chronic diseases that have plagued your family or loved ones, (5) you want to break away from bad eating habits you developed as a child or struggled as a teen, (6) you want to maintain a healthy weight and continue looking gorgeous/handsome, (7) you want to cut down your stress levels, (8) you want to look better naked or feel more comfortable in your skin, (9) you want to sleep better, more regularly or more deeply or (10) you want to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer, heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes or even some types of cancers…and the list goes on and on. Whatever the reason, find it. Make a list. There are plenty of reasons to motivate yourself, educate yourself, and even inspire others.
Motivation by numbers and facts (and why exercising is key to your goal)
Exercise can provide more than just weight loss benefits.
- Your lifetime risk for general DEMENTIA is literally cut in half if you participate in leisure-time physical activity.
- Aerobic exercise lowers your odds of getting ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE by more than 60%. (And you don’t have to run a marathon to obtain this benefit just participate in some form of aerobic exercise 2x a week).
- Walking 20 minutes per day can cut your risk of having a STROKE (one of the leading causes of mental disability in the elderly) by 57%.
- Exercise helps reduce DEPRESSION & ANXIETY both immediately and over the long term. Why? Exercise stimulates the release of 3 brain chemicals commonly involved in the regulation of mental health: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals will help you feel more relaxed and even happier (no pills needed).
- Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle impairs “FLUID INTELLIGENCE” or the brain power which helps us have improvisatory problem solving skills. Moreover thanks to imaging studies we have been able to observe that exercise literally increases blood volume to a region of the brain called the dentate gyrus (a part of the hippocampus involved in memory formation)… So more exercise, more blood flow, better access to those brain cells!
- Exercise helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, which can help you feel more energized. It also delivers important ingredients that strengthen muscles, boost your cardiovascular health, and make you feel less “short of breath”. This leads to endurance building which can provide benefits for your physical intimacy. A study conducted by Mayo Clinic found that men who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION than men who don’t exercise.
Last but not least…if you are feeling overwhelmed with all of this information and…are thinking that you probably DONT have the TIME to exercise…Well I have the perfect solution for you. Actually a cumulative amount of evidence-based medicine has shown that EXERCISE can actually HELP you HAVE TIME for everything. How? Well exercise not only affects muscles, bones, and blood vessels; it greatly affects your brain function. The neurotransmitters or brain chemicals released during an exercise session will not only help you “feel better” but help your reduce stress levels and think more clearly. Hence you will have added brain power to tackle those other tasks on your to-do list which should in return take less time to accomplish since you are thinking more efficiently.
Medina, John B. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Seattle: Pear Press, 2008.
Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity. By the Mayo Clinic Staff. Access full article here.