We’re two months into the year—do you remember your New Year’s resolutions?
Promising to make a significant lifestyle change in the upcoming year is a time-honored tradition, otherwise known as a New Year’s resolution. I will go to the gym and I will stick to my diet—no excuses,” someone may say. For most people, however, that promise may not last long. It’s often not a matter of whether they decide to act on their resolution so much as it is for how long they can maintain it. This is where health coaches can make all the difference.
As a health coach, I can help my clients implement small changes to their resolutions to increase their chances for success. The following are some strategies I talk to my clients about to help make their resolutions stick, no matter when they make them.
Set SMART health goals
A health coach can help people think through their goals prior to implementing them. Especially, I can help them be specific in what they want to accomplish and how they plan to do it. For example, if they want to exercise more, I can help them set a goal to walk three times per week for thirty minutes, and check in with them on their progress over a set timeline. Compare the following goals and see which one seems better to you:
“Exercise more” versus “Between January 1st and January 31st, walk three times per week for thirty minutes per session to promote weight loss.”
Slow and gradual progression
Most people overwhelm themselves by trying to do too much too soon. It can be hard to sustain a drastic change, and it can often lead to burnout. Slow and gradual progression can be better tolerated and can allow them time to acclimate and adjust to their resolution. A health coach can ask clients, “Are you being realistic with your goals?” We can help them think through what else is going on in their lives, how to keep their new resolution manageable, and how to set short term goals to help them reach long-term goals of six months or more.
Prepare for barriers
It’s important to plan and prepare for potential barriers or obstacles ahead of time. In conversations with clients, a health coach can ask about things like upcoming vacation plans or travel that could take clients off their normal routine. Are they expecting work to get busy? How will they handle family obligations that come up? People can’t plan for everything, but a health coach can help them develop strategies ahead of time that address foreseeable barriers to minimize their effect on a new lifestyle change.
Lapses and setbacks
In spite of their best planning, people may still stumble and fail to follow through with their goals on occasion. It happens, and it happens to almost everyone. Health coaches help clients understand that setbacks are a natural part of any lifestyle change. The question is whether they’re able to pick themselves back up and rededicate themselves back towards their goals. A health coach offers perspective, and can help make sure that failure doesn’t get the best of their clients.
Following through with resolutions to improve lifestyle and behaviors can be a difficult accomplishment, but it’s certainly a very worthwhile pursuit. With the help of a health coach, with careful planning, and with strong determination, however, this can be your population’s year to succeed.