Setting goals? Start with your expectations.

Before setting GOALS… Start with Your Expectations!

Alrighty… So we have previously talked about why working on the brain is so important and how fundamental it is to improving our heart & overall health. We have also talked about understanding your WHY.. and how this internal, personal driver is key in allowing you to continually re-choose ACTIONS that will lead you towards achieving your goals.

Next we need to get into the meat & potatoes of actually HOW we set those goals … starting with your expectations.

We are inundated with quick fixes, fast action, instant gratification. Look at the weight loss industry alone. How many advertisements do you see promising total transformation in a matter of weeks… and accomplished easily! You don’t have to look very far to understand how we have been groomed to believe that change happens fast.. And so when it doesn’t.. We feel we have failed, we must be doing something wrong… Self doubt & self criticism creep their nasty little thoughts into our minds.

So before we can even start to think about setting goals first we must manage our expectations.

Here are a few strategies to help set your mindset up for long term success.

1. Expect Obstacles – There is no way that your journey to improving & maintaining your heart health (or overall health) is going to happen without having to navigate obstacles. The road is not always going to be easy! – We know that to be true!

There are the types of obstacles we can plan for… And control to a degree and there are the types of obstacles that are unpredictable and out of our control. We have to rely on our resilience, our WHY, and our support system to help us as we navigate through so we can keep taking those action steps forward.

Plan ahead where you can. Get curious about where your struggle points are. When you struggle the most, in what areas of health. See what patterns emerged and come up with strategies to help you navigate through them BEFORE you get there. For example .. If you know that you like to snack in the evening.. Put some healthier options in the fridge beforehand for easy access. Perhaps plan an exit strategy to remove yourself physically from the area. An example of this would be to plan that when those snack attacks happen in the evening… You are going to go get in the bathtub with a book instead.

2. Focus on one thing at a time – Understand that you are human. You are not going to break all of your “bad” habits at once. Many people fall off the wagon because they are trying to do too much. There is too much pressure, and frankly too much to learn all at once! Pick one goal – the one thing that you believe will make the biggest impact on your health – start there.

3. Expect it to take time – you didn’t arrive where you are overnight. So you can not expect to change overnight either. When trying to make physical health changes, you have to allow the body time to make that physiological change. In reality it safer for our body to adjust slowly. Weight loss for example should be .5 – 2lbs per week at MOST. The only tried and tested path towards change is with time and consistency. This is not a quick fix or a magic pill. This is a lifestyle change… LIFE style. The new habit is meant to be lasting so the change it brings will be lasting as well.

4. Practice the 80/20 rule: You are not going to be perfect – again.. Back to being human. There are going to be times where things don’t go as planned. You eat those unhealthy foods, you miss a workout… You fall off the wagon. Give yourself some grace. I like to go by the 80/20 rule… 80% of the time is making those choices that we give ourselves an AWESOME SELF HIGH FIVE for… 20% is life. 20% is chocolate, holiday treats, laying in your pj’s all day, taking a time out. That is OK!! Just remember to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back at it!

**With quitting smoking, alcohol, or any other addiction… This is no joke! This is clearly not the same as breaking the type of habits we are addressing here. I encourage you to connect with a support system. A good start is to talk to your medical team to help understand the resources you have available to you.

The bottom line is remember it takes time, repetition and consistency to build a new habit. By staying with it, remembering your WHY, and focusing on the action steps you CAN take to keep you moving in the right direction… you will get there! Be patient and focus on the quality of the steps you take more than how fast you are going.

Pulse Cardiac Health
Improving Heart Health – One heart at a time.

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Shawna Cook

Shawna is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, who has been working in Cardiac Rehabilitation for over 10 years. Her years in the health and fitness field however have spanned over the past 2+ decades. As an elite level athlete she fell in love with understanding the human body, and how the choices she made, affected how it performed. This led to a degree from the University of Winnipeg in the stream of Athletic Therapy, and the passion towards helping others recover from injury and "be their best selves" grew.