Will 2022 be the year when you choose to modify your lifestyle choices? What is the best approach to make healthy choices and maintain them in your daily life? This is a challenge we all face. We are bombarded with health information on social media, popular media, and among our social circles. As the new year rolls around, we will see diet plans and exercise equipment marketed. Is this what you are looking for or need?
We can often make the best lifestyle choices with simple tools that we have available in our homes. Before we begin purchasing new equipment, let’s start by identifying the long-term goal we would like to achieve. Multiple smaller SMART goals will help us to reach our long-term goal. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time specific. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds in the upcoming year, a SMART goal may be that you will pack a healthy lunch three days per week and limit dinners out with family to two per month to limit added fats and calories from restaurant meals, until your weight loss goal is achieved. Another SMART goal may be that you will walk for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for one month. At the end of the one-month period, you can evaluate your progress and modify your goal, possibly increasing your physical activity to five days per week.
Establishing goals requires accountability. If you are choosing to walk on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, what is the best way to hold yourself accountable? Some strategies may include putting a sticker on your calendar each day that you have participated in physical activity. If you keep a daily planner, you can include your physical activity in your planner and check it off once you have completed your walk.
You can follow your goal setting progress by using lifestyle tracking apps. MyPlate app is a free app supported by the USDA. It is available on the AppStore or Google play. After downloading the app, you can choose up to three goals for each food group. Please remember that smaller, achievable goals will be more successful than trying to modify all behaviors at one time.
MyFitnessPal tracks food choices and physical activity. It is available for free on iOS and Android and can be found in the AppStore and Google play. You may choose the premium plan, but this will cost approximately $10 per month. You will establish your profile and begin logging your daily food and physical activity choices.
LifeSum is a mobile app which allows you to track calories and focus on changes you would like to make. This is a free app available on the AppStore or Google play. You can track your daily intake of food and water and the amount of physical activity you have participated in. When tracking your food intake, you can scan UPC labels from products you have consumed.
If you have a fitness tracker such as a FitBit or Apple Watch, there are apps that you can pair with your device to follow your progress.
Small modifications in lifestyle choices will promote a healthy tomorrow. Wishing you a healthy and happy 2022!