Many people feel lost when they consider ways to improve their life, health, wellness, and overall well-being. It's easy to be overwhelmed by all the information and different avenues that can be used to reach these goals. Identifying the goal can be an issue as well? How many times has one started, quit, stopped, tried something different, and never seem to get to the final destination? Or even more devastating, met the goal and a few months or years later fall back to the old habits sometimes worse off then where one has started.
Many Americans fall into the quick fix and fad diet repetitive mindset. Seeing results that don't last with products, diets, and/or fitness routines that don't fit into their normal lifestyle putting stress on their life, are not sustainable, and strains the body. Many of these quick fixes and fad diets are not meant for long term use and often can do more damage than help, not only on the physical body but also on emotional and mental state of mind. Consider is it worth it to start a diet or take a pill that allows you to lose weight, gain more energy, or any other benefit if it doesn't last and you have to keep starting over or try another way. How quick is it really if you never are able to keep the gains and improvements?
There is hope! And to be honest, it's quite simple and may even seem too simple. The catch is it's small steps that will take time to reach the goal. However, it takes one step at a time to win a marathon too! Many small consistent steps in the right direction can equal major gains and improvements in all aspects of one's life especially if those steps are carefully chosen and planned out to fit into one's lifestyle and geared towards their needs and goals. So how does one do this you might ask...well there are two parts of the system I use. First is identifying and narrowing down the goals to specifics using the well known SMART goal format. Secondly, is my system of the AABC's of Well-being which assist in understanding, creating, and changing mindset to improve health, wellness, happiness, and reduce stress in a sustainable way.
SMART goals allows one to create specific goals that are attainable and sustainable. Setting a goal to lose weight or to exercise more for example is not enough information. There is no way to gauge if you met the goal or when do will you measure your success? Goals need to be specific and focused. For example, if exercising more is the goal then what type of exercise? Is it running, lifting weights, swimming, walking, tennis, gardening, or any combination. Be specific.
Next it needs to be measurable. How will you measure the progress of meeting your goal? If you want to lose weight, then how much? If you are increasing how much/often you exercise then what will you determine as progress? Will it be by how many days and/or the amount of time you exercise over a specific time period or will it be by how fast you run a mile by a specific date, or even how much weight you can lift by a certain and specific date.
Goals are meant to be a challenge. If it was easy, you would of already achieved it. However, don't set yourself up for failure. The goal needs to be attainable. Expecting to workout seven days a week when you never been to a gym and lose 50 lbs in 30 days is not attainable or healthy. The idea is to set smaller achievable goals to set yourself up for success and build momentum as well as confidence that it can and will be done.
Are the goals relevant? Choosing smaller goals in which will allow you to meet the larger overall goal is important. In order for these smaller goals to lead the way to the main goal, they must be relevant. For example, someone is pre-diabetic with a goal of losing weight (say 30 lbs) to reduce risk of having to take insulin. They will want to focus on goals which include healthy nutrition, increasing exercise, and lowering stress levels. Therefore a goal of swimming as a way of increasing exercise if they dislike swimming or don't have regular access to a pool is not a relevant step to achieving the goal and will be a waste of time.
Lastly on the SMART goals is making sure it is time-bound. There needs to be a date attached to when the goal should be met. This will allow you to access progress and readjust as needed as well as keep you motivated. Don't stress about it you are not quite where you wanted to be when that time comes. That is a great opportunity to consider what the problem or obstacles that hindered you were and readjust accordingly. This is where having a coach can be of great value.
Once goals are established, it's time to move into the action phase of making things happen. The my
AABC's of Well-being breaks this process down into four steps, the first two are internal workings followed by the second two which are actions. In order for change to be successful and sustainable, one must first work on the internal workings of change. This starts with awareness. Awareness of the goal(s) by using the SMART goal system as well as awareness of the challenges and obstacles that are possible to challenge the journey. Such as family and work schedules, financial, support, self sabotage, etc.
Next is acceptance. Acceptance of what is and what is not working now or in the past. By accepting these, you can work with what is working and learn from what is and hasn't worked. Acceptance of your individuality, your individual lifestyle, likes, and dislikes. Work with what is dealt to you rather than working against it . If broccoli makes you feel like you will puke and running hurts your joints, then it makes no sense to meal prep seven meals for the week with broccoli and go running everyday just because it worked for someone else. That's setting up for failure. Instead, build of your individuality. And last, accept the challenge to adjust as needed. Life is not neat and tidy. Emergencies will come up, kids get sick, work runs late, etc. It is what it is, tomorrow is a new day to try again.
Next is the actions steps. Behavior is the next one. Here we work on taking steps to modify behavior and habits to meet the goals. This can include steps such as getting rid of junk food in the house and changing the way you grocery shop to avoid buying unhealthy foods. Or recognizing your triggers for stress eating or anxiety and modifying the habits to reduce the response to these triggers.
The last step of the AABC's is changing the mindset to meet goals and maintain them. Almost everyone has heard the phrases "mind over matter" or "what your mind believes, you achieve." They are true statements. Changing the mindset to match the goals you want to achieve is fundamental for meeting the goals and sustaining them for the rest of your life. Having a positive mindset that believes you are worthy of happiness and success, that believes you can achieve all things you put effort into, and knows you will do what it takes leads the rest of the body into moving in the same direction as the mind and goal. The mindset may be listed last, however, it is something that is worked on doing the entire process and with every minor goal accomplished and every obstacle which is overcome slowly builds and molds the mindset.
With the assistance of a coach or a support system, these steps can become a guided path on the journey to health, wellness, and happiness for overall well-being for the rest of your life. Building from the grounds up or more accurately from the mind outward is essential for sustainable changes.