Here’s How to Reach Your Healthy Lifestyle Goals for 2021. First Set Them!
Ben Franklin was known to have a chaotic, unruly, messy desk. When asked why, by someone who pointed out that Franklin himself wrote: “Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time” the inventor, writer, politician, and ambassador is reported to have responded and said: "Imagine what it would look like if I didn't try?" That's how goal-setting works. You may not achieve what you set out to do, but just the act of trying is a relative win.
According to psychologists, there are three types of goals: those that involve process, those that are centered around performance, and those that are focused on the outcome. According to the researchers at Eastern Washington University, "Goal-setting is the process of taking active steps to achieve your desired outcome." I am here to tell you that after years of studying resolutions, new habits, and who reaches their goals, you can get further along with all these types of goals, whether it be to get organized (process) or to get up and exercise every day at dawn (performance) or to lose weight (outcome) if you A. Set your goal and B. Give yourself a break when you mess up. Just by setting a goal, you are doing better than if you had not. Putting on your exercise clothes at 6 am and heading out the door may not turn out to be the glorious fast run you'd envisioned, but doing it day after day means you will, on about day 4 or 5 or 7, achieve the desired result. Get in the habit and the outcome will follow. The same is true if you try to be organized. You may miss a call, forget an important email to answer, or be late on a bill, but just by striving to put in place systems that help you get through your to-do list, you will achieve most of the organizational gains you're aiming for. And as for weight loss, you may be eating salad after crunchy salad and not see the scale budge, at first. But stick with it and in a few days or weeks, the water weight will leave your body, the fiber will do its job and you'll be less prone to reach for the potato chips at 3 pm. Just keep trying to reach that outcome and your efforts will take you further, eventually, then you may at first believe.
The Secret to Achieving Your Goals Is to Set Short and Long Term Goals
When you decide what your goals are, make sure you can measure success in both short term and long term ways. Want to get up and out to workout every morning? Try it for 6 days the first week. Then give yourself a day off and do it for the next 5 days. Don't expect that it's going to happen every single day. Try for 4 out of 5, or shoot for 6 out of 7. Then keep track of how you're doing.
Write down your goals and put that statement on your mirror, calendar, desk or wherever you can see it every day. This is one way to stay on track when you "let it slip" or lose your mojo. When you get to a good marking point (I did it for a week!) let yourself have a reward. Ate a vegan salad every day this week? Give yourself a little treat (like a new pair of running shoes.)
When the goals are specific (eat plant-based for 28 days) they are more likely to be met. Keep it something you can measure (going dry for January) or something you can attain, the goal-setting experts say. And have an end date. So if you want your month to be stellar, then January 31st is a great finish line. You can give yourself a breather and start up again next month.
Here are the goals we are trying to reach and the strategies that we are using to do it. Please share your goals for 2021 and let us know your helpful hints to get further along that path to health and happiness. We want to hear from you!
Lucy's 2021 Goals and Strategies for Achieving Them:
1. Dry January. I gave up my usual red wine and feel better for it.
My strategy is simple: Just like I would not pick up a cigarette and I don't eat bacon (which I gave up along with meat and dairy nearly 2 years ago), I am looking at my usual wine bottles as if they were for someone else. I just don't do that. It's my way of blocking the option. I don't eat meat and I don't smoke and now, at least, I don't drink. During the pandemic, I enjoyed 1 or 2 glasses daily and while that was an enjoyable let down of stress, I was so over it. My body wasn't feeling sprightly in the early morning when I like to hop on my bike or run and I knew it was time. But timing is everything. Give yourself a little runway and ramp-up to the goal. Then... Basta! No more. At least not for now.
2. Be organized, be cheerful, and stop spending, or be smarter about money.
This may sound like three different things to you but I am not as tight on my paperwork as I'd like, from scheduling to paying boring bills like insurance, to then feeling grumpy when something that I have let languishes on my "stack" goes wrong (like a letter from the insurance company telling me I may no longer have life insurance). That just isn't how I want to live my life. I tell myself I want to be a highly functioning human being and be cheerful when things I choose to buy (said life insurance) then sends me a bill.
Switch the script. Instead of being grumpy when I have to pay that bill I want to tell myself: I CHOOSE to spend money on this and I am an adult who made that decision and now it's mine to live with. So rather than feel like that's money I wish I didn't have to spend except on something way more fun like new workout gear or a cashmere sweater, I now tell myself: This is what I choose to spend my money on and it's a privilege to have this opportunity (to provide for my family in case of disaster) and so for me, these are tied. Be organized, save money, pay what bills I owe, and do so cheerfully. I often add a donation to a charity when I am paying my bills, as a way of reminding myself: I am lucky to be able to write this check. Let's write another, and make a donation.
3. Be my all-around healthiest and lose pandemic pounds.
I wish I used the working from home months of the past year to be my healthiest. Instead, like everyone else, I found the chips and the dips, the cookies and crackers, and just about every other carb that is "allowed" on a plant-based diet. Now, the jeans are right and I don't feel my healthiest. It's time to get it back together. I look forward to 2021 as a chance to turn the corner on my own health journey and make this my year of being healthy. My heart goes out to the many who are out there coping with terrible loss, illness, and uncertainty. The best way I can cope is not to drown myself in carbs and wine but to become my healthiest and to do so, I am doubling down on my goals to eat more whole foods (not potato chips) and to lose the weight I gained.
A note about healthy living: No one can tell you what your goals should be, or when to kick them into forward momentum. But if and when you find your own, hold true to your reasons, your desire to be healthy, and then act on that. Peer pressure can come to play when it's time to dive into a sweet treat or you can quietly check in with yourself and your own resolve. When you do decide to make allowances and give yourself permission to indulge, never feel bad about it. I tell myself: I obviously needed that! And then get back on track. Any time your goal fades from view, check back with your mantra or your reasons. For me, it's I" want to be healthy for myself and my family. I want to feel good and live a life that is active, joyful, and energetic. I want to live according to my values. And I want to help other people do it too. At The Beet, we give you the tools you need: Recipes and inspiration, the 28 Day Plant-Based Plan, and the VegStart Diet. Try them out!
Stephanie's 2021 Goals and Tactics for Achieving Them:
1. To do a daily yoga practice, for the body and the mind
My first focus this year is to dive more into my yoga practice, and I'm doing this by following Yoga With Adriene's BREATH 30-day practice. Adriene released the first episode of this free program on January 1st, and millions of her subscribers across the world are following by participating in each new 30-50 minute practice daily. The focus on breathwork in this particular program is one aspect of yoga that is super meditative for me and allows me to forget about all stresses, distractions, and to-do list items. I would recommend YWA to anyone who is looking to build a daily practice because she is a great leader, and her 30-day programs are a good starting point for beginners because she gives lots of options for modifying poses, and the 30-day format is an easy way to keep yourself accountable. Grab a friend, start on day one, and watch as both of your practices deepen and your body strengthen. I find even the thought of there being a community of people internationally practicing at the same time as me enough motivation to hop off the couch and unroll my mat.
2. Eat more whole foods: Treat food as medicine
At the start of my vegan journey, I focused on eating the kinds of comfort foods that were integral parts of my diet before I ditched animal products. Vegan cheese, faux meats, lots of pasta, and an all-around diet of things that weren't necessarily setting me up to be my healthiest. Now, years later, I find that my taste buds have shifted past vegan alternative products, and I love to fill my plate with whole foods (besides of course my Saturday everything bagel loaded with vegetable tofu cream cheese).
As I feel these fruits, vegetables, roots, and herbs healing my body, I've come to realize how important treating your food as medicine is. I want to set an actionable goal for myself this year, so I'm striving to have two out of three meals per day be loaded with whole foods. Salads, buddha bowls, smoothies, and fresh juices are just some of the ways I plan on incorporating whole foods into my diet. I also want to explore incorporating superfoods like Irish Sea Moss and adaptogenic herbs into my diet.
Our daily recipes are constantly inspiring me, and if you want to hop on board the whole food train I would suggest signing up for our 28-Day Plant-Based Plan for free recipes, shopping lists, and community support.
Caitlin's Intentions for 2021
1. Be present, enjoy the small moments and stop mindlessly scrolling on my phone.
"When you don't realize you're in the moment until it's a memory," is a lyric from my favorite song, Summer 91 by Noizu, and is my motto for 2021. After hearing this song, I couldn't stop thinking about how much I related to this on a personal level. Reflecting on 2020, I found the most peaceful and memorable moments were the small moments when I was present and undistracted by my phone or racing thoughts. 2021 will be the year I enjoy the moments as they unfold and leave worrying about the future for another day.
My strategy to live in the moment is tuning out all distractions including all technology. My phone will be turned off unless it's necessary to be on, and I will immerse myself in present rather than the past or future.
2. Leave overambitious goals in the past and focus on building positive daily habits.
I'm leaving overambitious goals and critical self-judgment in the past. My focus for 2021 is to take small steps, build new positive daily habits, and be kind to myself in the process. 2021 is the year I focus on making small and effective changes, such as waking up and drinking a glass of water or leaving the phone on the charger and picking up a book instead. My hope is that by the end of the year all these small additions to my routine will turn into a consistent routine that I build upon in years to come.
Hailey's Intentions for 2021
1. Walk lighter, be gentle, and live simpler: Don't try to accomplish too much at once.
Speaking for myself, I tend to overload my plate with a hefty schedule, sometimes too busy to pick my head up from what's happening around me. I wake up early, work out first thing, walk my dog, get to work, double book events, find time to socialize, normally go out to dinner, and feel exhausted with little room for meaningful activities like time with my family, calling my grandma, catching up with a friend, learning about a new topic, and practicing in self-care. I'm the person that picks up the phone and answers, "can I call you back?" Then, by the time I call back, it's after dinner or the call turns into a quick, surface conversation because either my friend, mom, dad, sister, whoever is off to sleep--which feels like a complete missed opportunity.
So, instead of checking off the boxes on my list of to do's, in the new year, I want to live softly and take away the feeling of perfection, which consumes much of my mental space and tends to interfere with my well-being and time for others. This might sound unusual, but I'd like to work, think, feel less "robotic" during my days and take time to fully engage, feel present, live purposely and simpler.
During one of my phone call interviews I had for The Beet's Success Stories column, I spoke to Doug Schmidt, who has an incredible health transformation story but also an inspiring mantra that stuck with me. When I asked Doug for his mantra he said, "It's that I walk a little bit more softly on the earth. Whether that's in my interactions with people or interactions with animals..." On the phone, he mentioned that a simple life helps one stay present and accomplish more, which inspired me to take the unnecessary load off.
2. Cut back on processed food and try to eat from the earth
As a plant-based eater, there are so many new, creative food options to fully indulge in the vegan lifestyle, but, most of the time, they're not healthy or contain funky ingredients. I always catch myself repeating the same thing: "Just because it's vegan, doesn't mean it's healthy." In particular, I normally find myself mindlessly snacking on protein bars, and after I finish one or two, I put together the torn package label like a puzzle piece and find unhealthy, sneaky ingredients that only make me feel sluggish. So, in the new year, I will be label cautious and eat more fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, and whole grains without being restrictive.