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10 small, short-term goals for a healthier life

Short-term health goals

At Via Christi LIGHT, one of our first educational articles is about smart goals.

It is important to have short-term goals and long-term goals. Having only long-term goals can be discouraging, because they are more difficult to attain and we tend to give up. Short-term goals help us to realize success at much shorter intervals. Eventually we may attain the long-term goal, but each step in reaching that is a success.

Tony Kubina, our psychologist, often speaks of shades of gray versus black and white. A long-term goal may be considered black and white; any achievement along that continuum would be considered failure unless the ultimate goal was attained.

Example: If you set a long-term goal is to lose 100 pounds, and you lost 50, so you failed? Losing 50 pounds of weight is a huge benefit to your health: increased energy and mobility, decreased pain, increased stamina and easier breathing. Let us be successful!

Here are 10 other micro-goals to help you lead a healthier life:

1. Instead of: I’m going to eat healthy. Think: I’ll eat a salad with dinner. More fresh produce in your diet goes a long way toward good health. The USDA recommends 2.5 cups of vegetables per day or five servings. Starting dinner with a salad gives you 2-3 servings.

2. Instead of: I’ll get more sleep. Think: I’m going to go to bed 30 minutes earlier every night. The optimal amount of sleep is between 7-9 hours. Work toward that.

3. Instead of: I’ll exercise for an hour every day. Think: I’ll move for 10 minutes, three times a day. Moderate activity of 150 minutes weekly is enough for better health. Brisk walking, raking leaves, biking and climbing stairs all counts.

4. Instead of: I’ll spend more time with friends and family. Think: I’ll put my phone away at every meal. Meals are often the only time we have with friends and family. Having a no-phone zone helps you to concentrate on your companions and your meal.

5. Instead of: I’m going to lose 10 pounds. Think: I’ll weigh myself daily. According to a new study in the Journal of Obesity, people who stepped on the scale daily and logged their results lost more weight over a year, than those who did not. Daily feedback nudges you to tweak eating and exercise habits.

6. Instead of: I’m cutting out sugar. Think: I’ll have one sweet treat a day. Focus on what you can have and keep it to a small serving.

7. Instead of: I’m breaking my social media addiction. Think: Once a day I’ll skip the urge to log on. The point isn’t to give up social media, but to spend less time "connecting" and more time actually conversing.

8. Instead of: I won’t let stress rule me. Think: I’ll meditate for five minutes every day. Meditate in the same spot at the same time every day. Meditating regularly has been linked to multiple health benefits. You don’t have to be a Zen master to feel the rewards.

9. Instead of: I won’t sit so much. Think: I’ll set a get-up reminder. Too much sitting is bad for your health and your weight. Get out of your seat at least every 30-60 minutes and fidget while sitting. Try the Stand Up! app that is free on Google Play and iTunes.

10. Instead of: I’ll be more positive. Think: I’ll count my complaints. Use a physical reminder, like switching a bracelet from wrist to wrist each time you complain. Or pick one topic and stop complaining about it for the day.


(Some of the information was found at 10 Micro-Resolutions’, by Juno DeMelo, in the January 2016 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.)

About Ramona Stueve

Ramona Stueve, RN/CBN is a program nurse with Via Christi LIGHT in Manhattan.