As the back-to-school season ramps up and we fall into our routines, it can be easy to let our health and wellness achievements slip away. Sending kiddos back to the classroom could mean having more time to work towards achieving your health goals, or it could mean a busier, hectic schedule that doesn’t leave much room for taking care of yourself.
If you fall into the latter category, don’t fear; there are plenty of ways to stay on track (or start fresh!) with any goals you have set regarding nutrition, fitness, overall wellness and really anything in between.
Follow these three key practices to help keep you steady and rock this school year.
1. Pump up your planning.
Proper planning prevents poor performance…or so the old adage goes. While that may be a bit of a tongue twister, putting it into practice can reduce stress and allow for better achievement of your goals. You're not rethinking your schedule every day, but instead, you're working off of a framework.
So, set aside time to plan how your busy days might look, including details like what time you have to have the kids at the bus stop or regularly recurring meetings. Figure out which things in your schedule are flexible, and which aren't. From there, identify areas of opportunity where you can add in self-care.
For example, if you usually get through the drop-off line at 7:15 a.m., but don’t have to be at the office until 9:00 a.m., that leaves about an hour to fit in a workout or to return home and prepare a healthy breakfast to start your day off right.
Other planning tips that help you continue to achieve your goals include things like packing your gym back the night before or spending an hour or two on the weekends meal-prepping for later in the week. When you take time to prepare for the upcoming chaos, you set yourself up for success, and make it much harder to tell yourself you “just don’t have enough time.”
2. Stay aware of your goals.
Schedules ramp up, days turn into weeks, weeks quickly turn into months, and then before you know it, it’s Christmas break! We can get so caught up in the shuffle that we lose sight of the things we were even trying to accomplish. Using things like fitness or meal trackers—or even just a Post-it note of that goal you were working on—helps keep you focused.
Plus, regularly checking in with your goals allows you to determine if it’s time to take it to the next level, or if you bit off a bit more than you could chew. Keep in mind that setting realistic goals is one of the most important factors to success. When you achieve what you set out to do, you’ll only be more likely to go further next time.
3. Reward your progress.
Rewarding positive behavior is what help us make lasting change. When you succeed—and you will—there has to be some kind of prize for a job well done. The first step is to clearly identify what success looks like. Whether your goal was to walk before work three times a week or to go to bed earlier on weeknights, you have to be able to know when you’ve achieved what you set out to do. SMART goals will help you in this area.
Then, allow yourself a treat (preferably one that isn’t food related). Think along the lines of a massage, a movie, or a fun activity. Pick something that would be a lovely experience for yourself, and follow through. When you work hard, you should celebrate your success and keep that momentum going.
Start right now.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, yeah, this all sounds great, but let me just get a few months of the school year under my belt, and I’ll get to work.” Don’t fall into that trap! Soon the leaves will be changing colors, Thanksgiving will be here, and before you know it, you’ll be telling yourself, “I’ll just start fresh with the new year.”
Do you really want to wait to achieve your goals? Start today, and don’t look back. If you need more guidance along the way, all of these tips are things I work on with class members at our new YMCA Weight Loss Program. It's open to members and non-members. Join us!