New Year, New You

The women in active wear
By Dr. Cassandra Costa

2021 is upon us, and with the start of the new year often comes the desire for change or improvement in one or more areas of our lives. Here at Prairie Naturopathic Doctors (PND), we encourage goal setting when it comes to the areas of health and wellness, including exercise, nutrition, hydration, and weight loss. There are two parts to the goal setting process, both of which we will address here. The first part is to go into the process with a well-developed plan. And the second part is to establish a support system to help you throughout your journey.

First, let’s talk about your plan. It is important to set goals that are both reasonable and attainable. Setting impossible goals or too-broad resolutions will only set you up for disappointment and discouragement. You should be able to break your original goal into smaller, short-term achievements. For example, if your original thought is “I want to lose weight,” then the first step is to figure out your ideal body weight. Next, you can break up the full amount of required weight loss into smaller goals, spaced out over the course of the calendar year. What do you need to do each week to achieve your desired monthly weight loss goal? If you hope to lose 100 lbs., then you could set the smaller goal of 10 lbs. to lose per month (approximately 2.5 lbs. per week). In addition to a weekly weigh-in, which you could track in your Health and Fitness Log, you could also track “non-scale victories,” such as hip/waist measurements and BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis, which estimates percentages of muscle and fat within the body, available at PND).

The next step in the plan will be to determine your approach for attaining the goal. In the weight loss example, you could say, “To lose weight, I am willing and able to change my diet, which means removing junk food from the house and re-stocking my fridge and cupboard with healthy options. I can cut out soda and candy, eliminate my high-calorie/low-nutrient foods, and begin a detox program with the help of my doctor. I can also start a regular exercise program by choosing easily accessible workout options and creating a workout schedule that fits into my current daily routine.

Any time you are setting goals for yourself, it is imperative that you know your “why.” This is because, after setting a goal and beginning the process, there will be tough days when you might feel like giving up; having a reason to keep going can help motivate you through the tougher moments. For example, instead of just “wanting to lose weight,” keep in mind why the weight loss will enhance your life: it will allow you to have more energy, better sleep, more self-esteem, a better ability to participate in other activities, etc. The more specific and real to you the better.  For example, “to have more energy to play with my kids” is better than “to have more energy”. Write your motivational reasons down on post-it notes and stick them up where you can see them every day. Put a note in your lunchbox, for instance, that says, “I am healthy and full of energy.”

The second part of the goal-setting process is to establish your support system for guidance, encouragement, and emotional support along your journey. This support system should consist of someone you can check in with along the way—someone in whom you can confide, who has your best interest in mind. Following our current example, this could be a weight-loss partner, friend, or family member. It could be a naturopathic care specialist. Or it could be a weight-loss group or team, full of others with similar goals and the motivation to help you keep going. Tackling goals with a partner can be extremely motivational, especially when the partners can see each other’s progress.

The naturopathic specialists here at PND are available to help you formulate your plan for better health in 2021. Feel free to set up an appointment to get started on tackling your wellness goals. There is no better time to be healthy than right now. We wish you a happy and healthy new year.

December 29, 2021

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