15 Health Goals to Accomplish in 2020
It’s usually around this time of year that people stop to think about their health goals. Many people are left feeling a bit guilty about letting their healthy habits slide over the past few weeks.
And while health goals commonly have to do with weight loss, your health is also about integrating self-care into your life, staying on top of your mental health and getting adequate sleep. Maintaining optimal health isn’t only good for your well-being, it also affects your ability to achieve your other goals. By becoming the best version of yourself, you will be setting yourself up for success and positive change.
Your health goals can range from being quick, five-minute habits to exercising for a few hours on a regular basis. There are a lot of things you can do to improve your health, and when you put them all together, they will compound to help you get the most out of your life.
- Learn Your Family History
Find out what diseases run in your family so you can be aware of what you may be at a higher risk of developing in the future. This way, you can either take specific steps to reduce your risk, or you can begin getting screenings earlier than you normally would.
- Refrain from Alcohol and Smoking
Nearly 21 million Americans have an addiction of some sort, however, only 10% seek treatment. Many people who suffer from depression or anxiety turn to harmful substances such as alcohol, nicotine, or drugs as a coping mechanism. However, each of these options is extremely harmful for your health.
Drinking alcohol increases your chances of developing diseases such as cancer, liver disease, and other chronic conditions. It can also negatively impact learning and memory, accelerate the aging process and disrupt healthy sleeping patterns.
Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death worldwide due to a wide variety of diseases that it may cause, and avoiding illegal drug use will result in better overall health–both mental and physical.
- Get Enough Sleep
A lot of us feel like there are not enough hours in the day. But in order to be able to use the time that you do have efficiently, you need to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This is a basic need that will impact all other areas of your life.
- Include More Vegetables In Your Diet
Set a specific goal in this domain that makes sense to your eating preferences. If you don’t want to go completely vegetarian, that’s certainly ok. You can still incorporate lean meats and dairy into your daily eating routine. But set a goal amount (like 75%) of your diet that you think you could realistically make plant-based. If you need to, start small and slowly cut things out. If you set this goal, pay special attention to limiting processed foods.
- Eat Breakfast Every Day
You have to take the time to fuel your body in order to do your best work each day. Make breakfast the night before if you have to or get up ten minutes early to pack something to take with you in the car.
Make sure that your breakfast includes protein and whole grains in it so you can stay full and satisfied throughout the morning. There are so many benefits to eating breakfast, including increasing your concentration and metabolism and decreasing your cholesterol.
- Keep a Food Journal
Not only will keeping a food journal help you become aware of how much you’re actually eating throughout the day, it will also make you second guess yourself every time you reach for that bag of chips at 4:00 pm. If you know you have to write something down, you’re more likely to take pause before eating –especially if it’s a snack that’s open and you would typically eat it out of boredom.
- Re-think Your Dessert
If you crave something sweet after dinner, you certainly aren’t alone. Somehow a plate of vegetables isn’t quite as appealing as a bowl of ice cream or a piece of cake. But sometimes eating dessert can be a slippery slope.
Choose something light that offers you a bit of nutrients. One of my favorite things to have for dessert is strawberries with freshly whipped cream on top. Being able to incorporate pleasures like reasonably healthy desserts into a nutritionally balanced diet is one of the most effective ways to develop a realistic approach to managing both your weight and staying in great health.
- Do a Self-Check Mid-Meal
Research shows that people tend to eat 92% of whatever they put on their plate. But if you’re satisfied after eating just 50%, that’s a great opportunity to wrap up the rest and have a meal waiting for you for another time.
Practice portion control and mindful eating by paying attention to your internal signals of feeling satisfied instead of waiting for an external cue to stop eating, such as your plate being clean.
- Stop Eating Out
It’s easy and fast to grab breakfast/lunch at a drive-through or pick up dinner on the way home from work. But, not only does this drain your bank account, it can seriously impact your health.
The amount of sodium, calories, and fat in restaurant meals is…usually a mystery. Yes, you can often find some information online, but each restaurant’s servings may vary and the nutrition facts that the restaurants give are often an estimate.
You can assume that anything you eat from a restaurant has more sodium, fat, and calories than something that you could make for yourself at home.
- Count Your Steps With Help Of A Pedometer
The standard goal is to hit 10,000 steps a day. You can do this by:
- Parking as far away as possible from your office (if you’re unable to walk there)
- Going for a walk on your lunch break
- Getting up to talk to a co-worker rather than emailing them a question
- Taking a quick walk around the office at least once an hour
If you’re headed out to run an errand and it’s less than a mile away, leave your car at home and walk there (unless you’re planning on doing a big grocery trip). The more walking you can incorporate into your day, the better your health will be, as it can help you lose weight, get some fresh air, reduce your risk of developing several diseases, and improves your mood.
If your neighborhood isn’t walkable, walk from store to store in a shopping center if you have to make several stops.
- Accept Your Age and Age Gracefully
Keep in mind that there are some really great things about getting older. In fact, people over 40 often report being happier, less stressed, and more confident than they were 20 years ago. There are a lot of reasons to embrace your age, and in doing so, you will demonstrate to others that your life experience is a strength rather than something to be ashamed of.
- Maintain a Positive Mindset
Your mental health is certainly a big part of your overall health. You’re continually faced with challenges and temporary setbacks in life–these are inevitable–but having a positive attitude will keep you motivated to stick with all of your other health goals.
If you can learn how to cope with life’s challenges and move forward with a positive attitude, you will be able to move forward more easily with life after experiencing a hardship. You can even learn to see challenges as opportunities to grow. A large part of your ability to stay healthy comes from how you deal with and manage stress.
- Increase Your Physical Strength
You will have to make this goal more specific depending on your current strength level, but most of us could use some more lean muscle on our bodies. When you have strong muscles, you reduce your risk of injury and make it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. Keep track of how much weight you can lift as you’re trying to increase your strength so you can watch your progress.
- Unplug Yourself and Take Time For Self-Care
Putting away your phone, tablet or laptop isn’t just good for your mental health, it’s good for your physical health as well. Sure, you will develop deeper relationships with actual people if you interact with them in real life, but aside from that, when you’re on your phone or laptop, you’re more than likely sitting or being sedentary in some way. Do not spend a significant amount of time using electronics each day.
- Get A Supportive Community
If your goal is to start running, join a running club. If you want to start a Paleo diet, join an online group of people who follow this diet and share recipes with each other. Having a supportive group of people who are encouraging of your goals is critical to success. Finding a community of people who all share your common goal will give you a place to go during possible moments of weakness, and it can allow you to help other people on their journey to achieving the goal, which is motivating and rewarding in itself.
Connie Stemmle, 23 Health Goals to Achieve in 2020, https://www.developgoodhabits.com/health-goals
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