Has diet culture given you PTSD around setting goals related to food, exercise, or your overall wellness?
Do you feel totally burned out by committing to health goals so many times that never stick?
Well, I feel you! And so do my clients.
The truth is, diet culture has kinda ruined things for us by making us feel like scum of the earth if we can’t eat 7 bunches of kale, drink 85 glasses of water, and run 100 miles a day. Hint: they’re lying!
Mainstream wellness goals tend to suck because often times people go by whatever fad diet or trend is “in” that week (which never lasts) or set goals that are not realistic, enjoyable, or sustainable.
If you set out to severely restrict food, or run when you hate running, it’s probably going to suck, right? Let’s stop doing that.
This blog post will guide you through how to set wellness goals that don’t suck. Be sure to read my other post, part one, which helps you create a wellness plan based on your values instead of other people’s opinions or diet culture’s nonsense of the week.
Let’s dive in!
Reframe your wellness goals as intentions
First and foremost, this may be one of the most helpful things you’ll read in this entire post. Sometimes the word “goal” can give us a very all or none, black and white way of pursuing things.
Goals tend to be more hard and fast, concrete, and super specific and measurable. Which is totally fine in some areas of life but when it comes to our wellness sometimes this sets us up for feeling like shit about ourselves if we don’t meet these arbitrary numbers or guidelines.
For example, if you set a goal of running 3 times this week but you get out there 2 times instead of 3, you may feel like you didn’t reach your goal.
But if you set an INTENTION to run more, then bam! You did it! If you were running zero times a week and then you ran twice that week, you moved closer to your intention! Success! Go you!
When we set an intention, it can feel a lot more relaxed and realistic than a hard and fast goal. Kind of like using the word “movement” instead of “exercise” to create a healthier relationship with it. Words have a lot of power. Our brains, bodies and souls react differently depending on the word used, even if it’s describing the same thing.
I’d say most of my clients are type A perfectionists (like me, can you relate?!) so it can be super helpful to use the word intention instead of goal to immediately help find that gray area. Try it, see if it helps!
Choose one area you’d like to focus on
Let’s face it. You’ve got a BUNCHA options for what you could do to improve your health and set wellness goals that don’t suck. We all do, at all times, no matter who we are or what our health status is. It’s just the way bodies and health work!
Some of the areas of your life that could use some TLC may include:
- Stress management
- Down time
- Work/life balance
- etc. etc.
Since our brains get overwhelmed by too many options or focus areas at once, it’s best to choose just ONE to focus on.
Ask yourself, “If I were to make one change in one area of my life that would have the biggest positive impact on how I feel, what would it be?”
It could be an area of your life not listed above like maybe friendship. You may notice we’re talking about wellness goals in this post, but I’m mentioning things like friendship.
That’s because our relationships with food and how we treat our bodies is directly impacted by other areas of our lives such as self-care, down time or friendships. I always tell my clients – we’re going to talk about food, but we’re rarely ever just talking about food.
So first, pick your area. What area of your health/wellness/life needs some TLC?
Choose ONE intention in your ONE area
Then ask yourself, “What’s the ONE thing I could do this week that would have the biggest impact getting me closer to the kind of life I want to live?”
At the end of each weekly session with my clients, I ask them the ONE thing they could do that week that would have the biggest impact in getting them closer to the type of life they want to live, or feeling happier, or getting healthier.
Here are some examples from clients…
- Eat more veggies
- Eat more fruits
- Eat more outside comfort zone foods (nachos, snacks, ice cream, etc)
- Move more
- Get outside more
- Clean my apartment
- Drink more water
- Donate old clothes that no longer fit
- See my friends more
- Join a volleyball club
Now that you have your ONE thing in your ONE area, let’s get specific on how we can put it into action.
Putting your intention into action
Setting an intention without a clear way of putting it into action is like that saying, “a goal without a plan is just a dream,” or whatever..
Now that you know what area needs some TLC, and you have a specific intention within that area, let’s focus on how you can make that intention a reality.
If you’ve decided “I need to donate clothes that no longer fit,” you could start by picking a day to read this blog post to guide you through the entire process, and work through your closet as you go.
If you’re wanting to eat more veggies you can start by looking up some veggie based meals to make this week. Then, make a plan to get to the store and grab the ingredients you need.
If you’re near a Trader Joe’s, here’s a great list of veggie based meals using Trader Joe’s ingredients. These 20 plant based dinner ideas by the Minimalist Baker are also a great place to start.
Check in with your intention
At the end of the day, week, month, whatever, check in with your intention. With a purely non-judgemental, curious mind ask yourself a few questions.
Are you happy with the progress you made towards your intention? Why or why not?
If not, that’s totally fine! Maybe something else took a priority that week. Use each intention setting experience as an opportunity for growth, healing, and learning yourself on a deeper level.
What worked or didn’t work?
“Success” isn’t a number on the scale, a veggie quota, or certain number of miles run. Sometimes it’s just taking the next step towards caring for your body, mind and spirit in a more holistic way.
Congrats for taking the first step by even reading this blog post! Woo-hoo! Go you!
I hope it’s been helpful in learning how to set wellness goals that don’t suck, has allowed you to create a more realistic mindset towards your health, and empowered you with some tools to create intentions that work FOR you.
Feel free to reference this post in addition to part 1 (creating a values based wellness plan) anytime you need a refresher or feel pulled into toxic diet/body culture talk and away from yourself.
These posts can serve as a way to center yourself in your OWN values and aligning your health behaviors with those unique values.
Happy intention setting!