A Healthy Life is a Goal-Setting Life
Physical Goals – Part 2 of 3
I have always been a very sentimental person. In fact, I have rarely been described as “Type A”, linear, analytical, or any of the adjectives that describe a person who sets goals. Truth be told, depending in which season of life you came to know me, you might think I am actually the polar opposite of a person who sets goals. But here I am. A fully functioning adult, who strongly values setting goals.
Goal-setting is not only the practice of highly successful CEOs and militant business leaders. That is a stereotype. Arrogant white guys in expensive suits and power ties don’t have exclusive rights to goal setting. You don’t have to make a six-figure salary to take advantage of the benefits goal setting can provide.
I believe goal-setting is one of the most underrated practices of a healthy person, healthy marriage, and a healthy Christ-follower. In fact, intrinsic to the commandments of God and the teachings of Jesus is the concept of setting a goal and achieving it. The primary difference being, the goals set inside of theological commandments are not for our earthly success, but rather for the purpose of bringing God glory with our lives. Then, as we accomplish this through the power of the Holy Spirit, we development a sense of achievement and value.
Goal Setting for a Healthy Person
One only has to walk the aisles of your local bookstore (that’s a physical building – not Amazon – that sells books) to see the overwhelming number of books written for the purpose of trying to make you healthy. Mental health, physical health, emotional health. There is a large quantity of literature, podcasts, and videos on the subject; supporting the theory there is a high demand from people to know how to become successful.
It won’t blow your mind and you will not finish this post and be blown away by my incredible insight. Simply put, we should all consider the great value goal setting can have on our lives and overall health. I’ve organized three categories – physical, emotional, and spiritual. The following three posts will be my encouragement in each area for how to set beneficial goals for a healthy life – starting with physical goals.
Consider setting goals in your everyday, necessities of life. Eating, sleeping, drinking, and exercising habits are all part of our everyday lives. We are either doing well or doing poorly in these areas. If you feel you are doing poorly, don’t be shy about evaluating and setting goals.
- Set a calorie intake goal. You don’t have to be Jillian Michaels to monitor your food consumption. Calculate a healthy average number of calories you should consume in a day, then start looking at labels. Keep a running tab in your mind or download an app that helps you keep track.
- Keep your goal simple. Perhaps you start with broad goals: I will eat only three meals a day and one snack. Or I will not eat after 9:00pm.
- Start by keeping a sleep journal. Catalogue your current sleep patterns to better understand what you are currently experiencing. The accepted number of hours a healthy adult needs each night is eight hours. If you’re not getting that now, work your way towards that number. Set a goal to increase your number of hours by thirty minutes each night each week until you reach eight, or nine, or whatever your ultimate goal.
- Zoom out from your goal and make necessary adjustments. Know you will be out late one night this week? Have an early breakfast planned with a friend on the weekend? Prepare ahead of time by going to bed earlier in the nights preceding so you are most rested and risk the least amount of shock to your system after the radical change in amount of sleep. A pastor friend of mine taught me, “It’s not the night before a huge event (presentation, travel, etc.) you will get the most sleep. It’s the night before that. You’ll be too nervous the night before, so plan ahead the 48 hours before.”
- Most healthcare professionals recommend the 8×8 Rule: eight ounces of water, eight times per day. This adds up to 64oz of water per day. Make your goal sensible. Attempt to drink one Nalgene (or any 32oz plastic bottle of your choice) bottle of water in the morning and one in the afternoon.
- Set a goal to limit the amount of liquid you consume that has the potential to “clog the pipes.” Try to slowly reduce the number of cups of coffee you drink simply by cutting back one cup per week, then per day, until you reach your goal. Trying drinking small amounts. It may come as a shock to you, but your Keurig does have an “ounce selection” option. Rather than a full venti, consider selecting the 4 or 6-ounce option.
- There is perhaps no other physical engagement which has more influence on your life than exercise. Yet this is often the one goal no one has time to achieve. So, start very small. For example, don’t park in the closest parking place in the lot – park farther out to get in a few extra steps. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. In honor of Sir Richard Bannister – the first man to break the 4-minute Mile – set the goal of walking a route throughout your office at least four times during the work day.
- If you have young children making time to exercise can be a frustrating challenge. Consider ways to incorporate your children into exercise activity. Riding bikes, playing soccer, or playing tag are activities that most young children enjoy and, when you fully engage, will really serve your body the same as the most popular exercise video. You can burn calories in ways other than formal exercise. Set a goal for getting outside with your children at least once every day. Or schedule specific nights each week that you will take a family walk. Research has shown that walking only one mile per day can make a dramatic impact in helping a person lose weight.
A final, initial thought on goal setting: how do you eat a whale? One bite at a time! Whether a physical, emotional, or spiritual goal the common irony of goal setting is setting goals too high – making them nearly impossible to achieve. Then when you don’t (can’t) achieve them, you become discouraged and give up the whole effort. There is no shame in small goals that grow over time. Think of goal setting like chopping wood. The way you chop down a tree is to make consistent, repetitions with the ax in the same spot. Goal setting is the same way. Results take time, but results come to the person who sticks with it and doesn’t give up.