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You are what you eat: Goals and lifestyle messages

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In the fourth of a series of exclusive blogs for getback, Nutritionist Bonnie Chivers provides some timely tips for making healthy changes.

In January, we switch to new calendars and embrace a new year. For many people, it’s a good time to evaluate your physical and mental health and reflect on the changes you want to make in the coming year.

Most people’s New Year’s resolutions are linked to their health. Some will try to kick a bad habit, while others will try to pick up a good one. Either way, getting the courage to make a healthy change is the first step.

Making significant, long-lasting change isn’t easy. Habits are easy to fall back into because they provide a sense of comfort. Come February, some of us are drifting back into old habits, or losing sight of the aspirations we had when the new year ticked over. 

Furthermore, often when we approach changes to our food and lifestyle, we do so in a manner that feels overwhelming. Most people have a propensity to go from zero-to-one-hundred, or they strive to achieve things that they don’t enjoy or are currently out of their reach.

For instance, someone who is eating take-away every day for lunch and dinner deciding to never have take-away again, is probably setting themselves up for failure. It’s likely that grabbing take-away is linked to some of their personal barriers such as ‘time poor’, ‘don’t enjoy cooking’ or ‘find cooking at home too expensive’. 

Identifying your personal barriers can help to structure goals with in-built strategies to counteract your unique challenges.

As you reflect on your resolutions for the year ahead, it’s important to spend time preparing, planning and setting a smart goal to position you for long-term success.

SMART goals are:

Specific
‘I want to eat healthier,’ well, that sounds like a great idea. But what does it really mean? Aim for specific goals instead, such as eliminating soft drink, eating a piece of fruit every morning, five servings of vegetables a day or taking a home cooked meal to work for lunch two days a week.

Measurable
Make your goal one you can measure. Walking three days a week is a goal you can track, whereas a goal of ‘walking more’ is not so easily measured.

Attainable
Avoid aiming too high, or too low. 

Realistic
Losing five kilograms a week sounds great. But it’s an impossible goal that likely will leave you feeling discouraged – and more likely to give up on your efforts. 

Choosing realistic goals that you can meet will reinforce your efforts and keep you moving forward. Losing 200 grams per week is a realistic and sustainable goal. 

It is also important to be realistic about what YOU want to do. If you don’t like running, you shouldn’t be setting a goal about running. Instead it might be swimming, dancing to a YouTube routine, or yoga. 

Trackable
Choosing specific, measurable goals means you can track your progress over time. Write your efforts down in a journal or track them on an app so you can see how far you’ve come.

Remain confident, be patient and stay focused on your goal. Soon you’ll be on your way to a healthier you. 

Good luck!