SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. There are varying substitutions for this acronym. For example, you could swap attainable for achievable, but the end result is the same. The main reason people cannot stick with resolutions comes down to these five attributes.
Take the first one as an example, specific. Often, we make goals that are too general: ‘this is the year I start going to the gym’ or ‘this year I will eat more fruit”. A better, more specific and measurable approach would be to say ‘My SMART goal is to exercise 20 minutes, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the month of January’.
Only making goals we can realistically work it into our lives will help us stick to the program. If the goal feels unrealistic the goal should be modified. The feeling of success after the goal has been reached will encourage more positive choices, where as feelings of failure do not.
One of the most popular resolutions is weight-loss. It’s not surprising since society has promoted health through a “thin-lens”. Although weight loss may be an appropriate side effect of living a healthy life, I would recommend not making a weight-loss resolution this year. Focusing too much on the scale and body image can derail our health efforts, making us think that nothing is happening.
All healthy choices are worth making, no matter what.
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On the other hand, being calm has shown to upregulate those same genes. How quickly we
can recover from a stressful situation can also affect other health outcomes. Constantly being in fight-or-flight mode means cells are using all their energy to deal with the present “emergency”. They cannot devote energy to digestion, circulation and other essential functions that keep our bodies balanced, like they do in rest and digest mode, the other division of our autonomic nervous system.
Some amount of acute stress is unavoidable and necessary. The good news is, we can use techniques for stress management as a way of bringing our selves back to baseline. Exercise, nourishment, meditation, breathing, self-hypnosis, guided imagery and visualization, to name a few! People that use these and other methods of managing anxiety and stressors, even for a few minutes a day, have reported better focus and time management skills. These options are cost and time effective strategies for our long-term health.
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So, what is really important in nutritional counselling?
In my opinion; the relationship with the counsellor. A positive client-counsellor exchange is
paramount for success. The counsellor’s main job is to understand your perspective, to build a trusting relationship and cultivate positive regard, even when things do not go as planned. Nutritional counselling is different because non-food nutrition, sleep quality, stress levels, fulfilment, general moods and beliefs about one’s self, are also considered. The goal is not a diet. The goal is fuel for life. Ask your self “What is my life like now? What do I want my life to look like a year from now?” Really visualizing the future can make meaningful changes last. A great way to start is to set the stage for your day to play out the way you want it to. If we set up life to make healthy habits the easiest thing to do, our chances of meeting our goals are greatly enhanced. Things like having your breakfast table set the night before or bringing runners to work for a quick lunchtime power walk. Setting up your environment for small successes can make a big difference for your health.
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Richelle and Chris. Empowering people to live positive, vibrant lives.