I love the fresh start of a new year. I’ve never really been a New Year’s Resolution maker, but I have always been a goal-setter, which is really the heart behind the idea of resolutions.

I am a firm believer in the power of naming your goals, writing them down, and setting a time frame for achieving them.

In this week leading up to the new year, I’ll be featuring a few different common resolution categories along with some tips that I have found helpful in achieving them. I’m really excited about today’s feature: health and fitness!

My personal health and fitness story has been extremely boring up until the past year – basically, there was no story! In my earliest adult years, I pretty much just ate as I pleased, and my understanding of healthy eating habits was limited to the food pyramid chart from elementary school. Seriously. Exercise was even worse. I signed up for a gym membership twice… and I probably went to the gym a total of 5 times between those two memberships. One time I decided I was going to start running, and I made it out four times before I found out I was pregnant and quit. Fortunately, I cruised along pretty well due to plain old luck and good genes – my weight was pretty static from ages 19-24, and I was comfortable enough with my body that I never had much motivation to make any changes on the health front.

I had my first baby when I was 24, and I never quite managed to get all of the baby weight off by the time I was pregnant with my second at 25. I gained 50+ pounds with each pregnancy, and after my second was born, the extra weight was a lot more reluctant to come off. I decided it was time to be a better steward of my body, so I joined the gym (AGAIN) and started being more mindful about what I ate. Through eating healthily and exercising regularly, I actually exceeded my weight loss goal – and now am maintaining a healthy lifestyle to keep my body and mind happy!

If I just made that sound easy, I’m sorry. It’s HARD to change your wellness habits – because they are usually habits that have been years in the making. It felt so overwhelming when I began the process, and if you are in that place right now, I GET IT. The absolute best tip I can offer anyone is to make a plan, write it down, and stick to it. There are three parts to wellness goal-setting.

  1. Set your goal. Use positive “I will” language and make sure you give yourself a reasonable time frame  (Ex: “I will lose 25 pounds by June 1”). Write it down. Tell a friend. Accountability matters.
  2. Start. There are lots of programs and people out there that will offer you advice and/or tools for weight loss and healthy living, and if there’s one particular program that resonates well with you, go for it! But my best recommendation is just to start with one thing. Set a goal for your first week, like “Eat less than 1700 calories every day” or “Exercise three times this week”. Record your goal AND your progress. The next week, repeat the same goal, change it up, or keep it and add an additional goal!
  3. Keep it up! Tweak as you go, and find what works for you. Track your long-term and short-term goals.

I’m not an expert in this field, but if you just feel like you don’t know where to start, my best tips are:

  • Eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and snacks every day. Predictability keeps you from straying off course! When I initially started trying to eat better, I stuck a list to the fridge of every food I was “allowed” to eat. If it wasn’t on the list, I couldn’t eat it. The only exception was dinner – I ate whatever I prepared, but made sure to use moderation. I called it the “List Diet”, and having those boundaries was immensely helpful when I was just starting out. (Disclaimer: I don’t recommend being this restrictive for the long-term, but it was great when I was initially training my body to eat healthy foods!)
  • Allow yourself a mini indulgence every once in a while. If you plan for it, it’s not cheating! When I first started, I planned for either a glass of wine OR a small piece of chocolate Every Single Day (yes, it was on the list!). Having a small treat planned for the end of the day helped me stay the course – and many days, I (SHOCKINGLY) found it easy to skip the treat.
  • KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING. Whether it’s on paper or with an app, tracking my food intake and exercise output was a game-changer for me. I’m not really a tech girl, but I LOVED the “Lose It” app and found it extremely helpful.
  • Plan your meals in advance so you aren’t tempted for an easy, unhealthy fix.
  • I hate this one, but it’s just true: You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Nutrition and fitness are both important, but if you’re going for weight loss, you’re going to have to make healthy food choices.
  • Exercise classes are not scary – and for me, they’re easily the most fun way to get in a work out. I was so afraid to try the classes my gym offered, but I was surprised how UN-intimidating they were once I gave it a shot. Everyone starts somewhere, and there’s always a range of fitness levels represented in each class. Give one a try at your local gym.

Want to get started? I have two new Wellness Planning Sheets just for you. They both allow you to plan your weekly menu and exercise plan, set goals, keep notes, and track eight wellness habits (you can use mine OR customize your own in the editable version).

Here’s a peek at mine:

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It’s also available in a more simple, black-and-white design. My favorite feature in this planning sheet is the habit tracking section. I love seeing how my eating/sleeping/exercise habits effect my mood, energy, and weight from day-to-day and week-to-week.

You can find this (along with tons of other printable planning resources) in my Etsy shop!

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Plan on, my friends!