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Get SMART About Your Health Goals in 2017

It's a new year, a time where many of us make new year's resolutions. These resolutions can encompass beginning something new, ending something old, or just making a change to the daily routine. Many individuals see it as the perfect time for a fresh start and state goals; people begin with the greatest motivation and make great strides towards their goals within the first few weeks. However, for some reason, whether it be work, family or something else that has arisen unexpectedly, progress towards the goals ends and even though you have the best intentions to return to working on your goals, you don't get back to them. Does this sound familiar?

You've probably heard that it takes 21 days to create a habit. This statement is a myth. It started in 1960 when Dr. Maxwell Maltz published that "it takes a minimum of 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and for a new one to jell." Over the years as people have recited this quote, they have omitted the word minimum and have shortened it to it takes 21 days. According to a 2009 study in the European Journal of Social Psychology, titled "How Habits Are Formed: Modeling Habit Formation in the Real World"; it actually takes 66 days and this will vary depending on the behaviour, the person, and the circumstance. The study also found that while building better habits, it doesn't matter whether you mess up once in a while, as it is not an all or nothing process. Progress does not occur in a linear progression when it comes to reaching your goals or creating new habits. There will be some progress at the start followed by some setbacks causing you to move backwards instead of forward. It's important to accept and acknowledge that this is a normal process and not to give up on your goals by continuing to work on them. You can't plan for everything that happens in life. Even if you tried to do this in the past, you know that life hardly ever goes according to plan. Setbacks will happen, however, don't let them distract you from your goals. Tomorrow is another day to get back on track.

Let's get SMART about our goals, namely our health goals. When it comes to defining goals, SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Many of us will state a general goal such as "I plan to lose weight" or "I want to feel more energy," but we don't take the time to add the specifics such as how we will achieve the goal, who and what needs to be involved to accomplish it and in what time frame we want to achieve it by. Goals are important to have, but there is a greater chance of accomplishing them if they are specifically defined. As a Naturopath, I work with patients through lifestyle counselling to help them attain their health goals and help patients to specifically define what needs to be involved to be successful.

Now, let's talk about your health. When it comes to your health goals, you may feel that you are approaching them the best way you know how, but may not be reaching them. This may be because there are many factors to take into account that may be contributing to you not seeing the results you should be. Let's use weight loss as an example. Sources state that more calories must be burned than the amount you consume. However, there are many different factors that contribute to a body's metabolism that may make weight loss difficult for some individuals. These include hormonal, metabolic and lifestyle factors. A Naturopath can evaluate what factors are obstacles to achieving your goals and work with you to address these contributors so that you can move further towards your goals. The New Year seems to be a popular time for many individuals to make changes, but I believe that everyday is an opportunity to change your life for the better. A quote by an unknown author that I have been inspired by states "Every new day is another chance to change your life." Is today the day you will choose to change your life?

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