As much as I would love to be able to train in the gym twice a day with my workout partner, have someone prepare all of my meals, and always be motivated to eat perfectly, not miss a workout and get in eight hours of sleep—I know that is not reality. We are capable of reaching our health goals, and support makes that process more likely to happen. Realistically, support from others might not be there every step of the way, but there are ways you can support yourself. Here are seven do-it-yourself tools that can assist you on your quest for achieving your health goals.
There is an increasing array of health-related smartphone applications that can help you reach your goals. From tracking food to finding a workout, just about every avenue of health-related applications are out there, and they continue to evolve. Using a fitness app makes tracking progress simple and easy. One of the advantages to using an app is the ability to tailor it to your individual goals, calculate information and provide feedback on your behaviors.
2. Activity Monitors
Wearing an activity monitor is one of my favorite tools for reaching my health goals. Personally, I wear a Fitbit Flex, but there are other great activity monitors out there such as the Jawbone, Garmin, Nike Fuelband and the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch. Activity monitors are like your own personal health coach—they provide instant feedback and quantitative data, and help increase motivation. I can check my FitBit app on my phone to see how many steps I have taken, how many calories I have burn and how my sleep was the night before. Having an idea of how much I have moved (or not moved) during a given day motivates me to reach my steps-per-day goal.
A journal can serve as your map for reaching your health goals, because it provides a sense of direction and a foundation upon which to build. Specifically, I like using a journal to track my weight-training workouts. It is easy to forget what weight was used or the number of sets or repetitions completed if you don’t record them. Writing down workouts provides an easy way to refer back to previous workouts and creates an opportunity for improvement week to week.
By committing to your workouts in the same way you commit to attending scheduled meetings at work, you can be sure to stay on track with your goals. Whether it’s a Google calendar or a paper one, spend time at the beginning of the week outlining what and when you will be doing for workouts. If you are working on weight-loss goals, pick a day to weigh in and commit to it on the calendar. Doing so serves as a reminder as well as an accountability tool.
As “scary” as scales may be for some of us, the reality is they are just numbers. Whether it is maintaining, losing or even gaining weight, a scale can be used as a monitoring tool. While the scale is not the ultimate guide, but most people don’t have access to tools that accurately measure body composition on a weekly or monthly basis. Instead, the scale can be used as a way to measure progress. If it provides a value that isn’t satisfactory, health behaviors need to be assessed.
Magazine pictures, progress photographs, inspirational quotes and affirmations are all great ways to motivate and inspire. I write affirmations on my bathroom mirror, have a chalkboard by my desk with goals, and have inspirational quotations on my desk at work. Despite the stress and challenges of day to day life, these reminders keep me focused and motivated. Whether it’s at work, on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror, or in the car, consider placing reminders of your health goals in places that you look at frequently.
Although listed last, this by far is the most important tool you can invest in when it comes to reaching your health goals. By cultivating a positive attitude and being able to adapt to situations, you are more likely to get on track when pulled off course. An all-or-nothing mindset is the last thing anyone needs when working toward any goal. Make it a point to commit to a positive mindset and you will far surpass your goals!