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Simplify your goals to get healthy

Photo by Charday Penn

When it comes to your health, you are the expert on your body, your lifestyle and your current demands. The key to sustained, holistic health is to tune into your needs and keep things simple.

Set Small Goals

Making a radical change to your diet or fitness plan can work wonders — for a few days or even a few weeks. When you try something that is massively different from your current approach, the novelty and excitement motivate you, but when the initial rush subsides, it’s almost impossible to stick to the changes you’ve made. Rather than think radically, consider one or two small changes, such as starting the day with a healthy breakfast or getting up 10 minutes earlier to do a few basic exercises before you get ready for the day.

It’s Your Attitude to Control

Some people thrive on diet plans in which everything is prescriptive and all choices are made by a program or health guru. Other people need to feel in control of their choices and resist a prescriptive diet plan. There is no right or wrong way to approach getting healthy, but if you go against your nature, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Consider strategies you’ve tried and your honest reaction to highly prescriptive health plans. If highly prescriptive works for you, go with it. If such diet plans trigger your rebellious nature, try an approach that keeps you in control.

Acknowledge You Are Human

Some health experts assume you have unlimited time and control over your environment. If you have kids, taking all junk food out of your house might not be feasible. If you’re working long hours, convenience food might be a necessity rather than a luxury. You are a person with your own life and demands, so try to drown out the pressure and advice online and focus on what is manageable for your circumstances.

Pick One Thing

It sounds simple, but picking one strategy and sticking to it is harder than you think. Everyone has an opinion on what is healthy, from the thousands of diet and fitness experts to friends and family. If you’re struggling to get healthy, choose one goal and stick to it. Track your progress using an app or chart. Your goal could be anything: train for a 5K race; eat five portions of fruits and vegetables a day; limit your calories each day; follow government health guidelines on alcohol intake. It’s up to you. Pick one thing that seems manageable and attractive and stick with it.

Choose Your Attitude

Health bloggers and fitness gurus tend to find a strategy that works for them personally, then try to sell it as a fix-all for everyone. Some people respond well to tough, military-style, no-nonsense advice, which triggers anxiety and eating issues in others. When making lifestyle changes to get healthy, choose an attitude that works for you and stick with it. It’s OK to be kind to yourself and give yourself breaks and cheat days if that approach works for you in the long term. It’s equally fine to be strict if that suits you. The attitude you take toward getting healthy influences your long-term success, so find what works and go with it.

The health and fitness industry is booming, and constant exposure to conflicting advice can make getting healthy a daunting task. The key to any life change is to keep things simple, set manageable goals and tailor the goals to your circumstances. Focus on one thing, keep goals small, and align your approach and attitudes with what you know works for you.


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