plate of pancakes and fruit as you enjoy intuitive eating

Setting Health Goals Versus Dieting

Are you tired of going on a diet and restricting only to regain the weight when you go off the diet? Setting health goals versus dieting can help you reach your goals by not focusing on your weight.

Start with self-acceptance no matter where you are in your journey or how you look. (Spoiler alert: Hating your body will not get you to your ideal weight and motivate you to change).

I was a lifelong dieter but had to get honest a few years ago. Diets were not working. Oh, they worked while I was following the diet. But once I went off the diet, the pounds I lost and then some, came back uninvited.

As I hit perimenopause in my late 30s and full menopause at 44, my body changed and so did my weight. I had to get honest.

With changing hormones, I knew that I was at risk for certain health conditions. I needed to change my lifestyle choices to get healthy, physically and mentally. I gave up dieting for good!

The History of Dieting

Blue Tape Measuring on Clear Glass Square Weighing Scale while dieting

Manipulating your food intake to improve your health, lifestyle, or how you look began in the United States in the 1830s. But fad diets, a plan that promotes results such as fast weight loss without a lot of scientific evidence, came about later in the 19th century.

There is no denying that obesity is one of the major public health concerns today. Worldwide obesity has tripled from 1975 to 2016 due in part to excessive calories from fats and sugars, large portions of food, availability of fast food, and limited physical activity.

Obesity can increase the risk of many serious diseases — heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers.

We can’t deny that losing weight will improve our health, but we can get there with sustainable health goals.

There is no lack of diets that you can go on. The 10 most searched diets on Google are:

  • Keto diet
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Paleo diet
  • DASH diet
  • Atkins diet
  • Military diet
  • Sirtfood diet
  • WHOLE 30
  • Alkaline diet
  • Noom

Although many diets help people lose weight, most will ultimately regain the weight. Many people are then left feeling frustrated and hopeless. You will be more likely to stick with lifestyle changes you actually like!

Why Diets Often Fail

Ninety-five percent of dieters regain weight they’ve lost within two to five years. The diet usually works to help people lose weight but not to help them maintain that weight loss.

Because your body is wired for survival, it’s not simply a lack of willpower that causes you to fail at dieting. Calorie restriction can lead to slower metabolism, decreased satiety — feeling full — hormone (leptin), and increased hunger hormone (ghrelin).

Dieting also increases your mind’s thinking about food and increases activity in the brain’s reward center when you consume high-calorie foods. For many of you, food restriction can lead to binge eating, eating a significantly large amount of food in one sitting.

Many of these factors make you feel like a failure — someone who lacks discipline and willpower.

The good news is that there are ways to create lifestyle changes that lead to better physical and mental health and get you to a healthy weight as well.

Setting Health Goals Versus Dieting

typing in bed with latte to set health goals

Setting small sustainable goals that fit in with your lifestyle can truly contribute to helping you feel your best.

As you look to set health goals, think of what aspects of your life need improving. Perhaps you want to improve your nutrition, sleep habits, exercise routine, or how you’re managing (or not managing) your stress.

If you want to begin improving your nutrition, start with Intuitive Eating guidelines. There is nothing to count, you can’t fail and will ultimately get on a journey of self-discovery to realize what you truly need. You are ultimately guided to eat for physical and not emotional cues. Check out my blog post ‘How To Start Eating Intuitively‘ for more information.

What Are Some Health Goals?

The best place to start when setting health goals is to be specific with your end goal and what steps you will put in place to get there. Don’t set vague goals such as ‘I want to exercise more’ or ‘I want to sleep better.’ Start with more specific goals like ‘I will exercise for 20 minutes every day by walking outside or on the treadmill’ or ‘I will shut off all my devices one hour before bed and take a warm bath to sleep better.’

Here are some health goals you can set and create your own steps to reach them:

  • Eat a nourishing and satisfying diet
  • Drink 6-8 cups of water daily
  • Prioritize sleep
  • Get exercise you enjoy each day
  • Practice self-care to manage anxiety and stress
  • Connect with others
  • Digital Detox

How to Achieve Health Goals

Green Typewriter on Brown Wooden Table setting health goals

The best way to achieve your health goals is by setting SMART goals. These well-ordered goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

  • Specific: What will you accomplish and what actions will you take?
  • Measurable: What will you use to measure the goal – a weight, date, or length of walk?
  • Attainable: Make sure the goal is challenging but still achievable. Don’t set unrealistic goals and become unmotivated and feel disappointed.
  • Realistic: Make sure it’s a goal that is important to you. Be honest about what you are willing to do.
  • Time-bound: Create a timeframe and a small sense of urgency so that everyday tasks don’t take priority over your long-term goals.

Most people recognize that diets create a controlling relationship around food. A weight problem can be worsened by trying to manage your weight through deprivation and restriction.

As you work towards your small, achievable health goals, you will undoubtedly have more energy, a better mood, and over time, boost your longevity. All these accomplishments will motivate you to continue your quest for better health! Strive for consistency, not perfection.

Reach out if you’d like to learn more about how I can help you reach your health goals!

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