shutterstock_235920898If your goals are to get in shape, stay in shape, gain muscle or lose fat, there are several actions you can take to promote health daily behaviors and help yourself make good choices. To improve your overall health, you may need some help from a person, a journal or a group of supportive people.

Finding Motivation

Many of us feel more motivated to lose weight or build strength to prepare for a big event. If your child is getting married or you’ve got a big class reunion coming up, why not set that event as a target date to look and feel your very best? Determine what your goal weight is and put that goal front and center.

Print off a calendar page with the big day circled. Put a photo of the outfit you’d love to wear to this event on the refrigerator so you see it every time you reach for a snack. Celebrate your milestones on this path to the big day!

Getting Off the Plateau

Plateaus come in quite a few forms. There’s the weight loss plateau, where you just stop losing weight even if you’re sticking with your healthy habits. There’s also an exercise plateau. You’re doing the same thing, not seeing any new results and you may be getting bored. To get interested in your fitness level and well-being again, change up your fitness plan. Add a weekend walk with an old friend to your schedule. Dust off your bicycle three times a week and enjoy some fresh air.

You might also consider working with a trainer. If there’s a form of exercise you’ve always been curious about but have never tried, such as pilates, weight-lifting or rowing, talk to a trainer at your gym about buying a few sessions of their time to help you build great form and learn a new activity. Once you have the mechanics down, all you need to do is add a new pilates class, work up to a new weight, or add intervallic intensity to your rowing to elevate your heart rate.

Changing Food Habits

It’s easy to think that your ability to enjoy food will disappear forever if you make a radical dietary change. However, you’ll have more fun with the process if you enjoy it as a beginner. Take a cooking class at a local health store or restaurant. Check out your local organic food co-ops for classes on whole food cooking, vegetarian cuisine, or gardening. Not only will you enjoy your time with these experts and learn new skills, you might meet up with others trying to set similar goals and build yourself a support group!

Give Yourself A Break

Life can go completely off the rails sometimes. There are days when only french fries and a milkshake feel like it will help you at the end of the day. Don’t fall into all or nothing thinking. Obviously it wasn’t the best idea to have ice cream or fast food for dinner, but today is a new day. You took a short walk off your fitness path and are ready to get back on it, facing the right direction this time. Indulge your need for sleep by skipping a workout if your body needs rest. Give yourself a break. You don’t have to be perfect; you just need to be moving along. And remember, just because you missed one day or ate one unhealthy treat doesn’t mean you should continue that behavior. Remind yourself that you have goals and you have to follow your health plan to reach them.


Setting a journaling goal can seem like one more task that you have to get to, and who has time for that? But journaling can be a great source of information when you’re looking back at your successes and trying to avoid future failures. For example, is there an event that seems to always trigger a food binge? Do you have a friend that always leads to an extra glass of wine and dessert, whether you have the calories available or not? Your journal can offer you great clues as to what works and what doesn’t work in keeping you on your wellness path. Use it as a guidebook.


Set your goals, visualize your reward, and get some help. Whether that’s a listening friend, a fitness trainer, a cooking class or a support group, your fitness goals will be easier to meet if you have caring folks around you. Use the clues in your food and fitness journal to help avoid pitfalls, and if you do fall off track, start again tomorrow!