Finding it hard to get yourself or someone else motivated to make a healthy change, such as getting more exercise or eating better? Setting and achieving one small health goal a day can help you build your confidence. Over time, this can lead to permanent lifestyle changes.
Set Small Goals
- Write your goal on your daily calendar.
- Check it off the next day if you met it.
- At the end of the week, reward yourself, but do not use food as a reward.
This daily practice will increase your motivation to make changes that benefit your health. To plan a physical activity goal, first ask yourself, "How many hours do I spend sitting each day?" Review your schedule; even 10 minutes of added walking a day is a great place to start to improve fitness. Many people find time (20-60 minutes) for fitness before work, over lunchtime, right after work, and in the early evening. Sometimes pushing dinner back one hour will give your family the time needed to fit in daily fitness. Offer fruits and vegetables as an afternoon snack with yogurt-flavored dip to stave off hunger and increase fruit and vegetable intake.
Praise and Support Help Build Confidence
Share your successes and setbacks with loved ones. Also share your goals. Don't let the setbacks get you off track. Learn from your experience and keep focused on your healthy goals and benefits. Often, the best motivator is seeing your health improve.
Individual Benefits for Reaching Health and Fitness Goals
- Decreased risk of disease
- Better management of chronic disease
- Easier breathing and sleeping
- Less pain
- Improved mobility and stamina
- Improved mental health
- Praise from friends and loved ones
These health improvements are examples of individual rewards for reaching your fitness goals. Below are a few more benefits for the family as a whole.
Several family benefits of healthy lifestyle changes include:
- Increased self-esteem and confidence in social settings
- Decreased risk of health problems associated with childhood obesity
- Feeling more comfortable in clothing
- Participating in sports or gym class with greater ease
- Increased opportunities for family bonding, such as exercising, grocery shopping, cooking, and enjoying meals together
Tip: Reward yourself for achieving your health goal, such as with a movie, day trip, or spending more time with loved ones.
Making Healthier Choices
Do you have a job, children, grandchildren, or a busy social life that may be taking up your time, leaving little time to make healthy behavior changes? Use the plan below to help you make some healthy behavior changes.
Examine Your Choices
|My schedule||What I do now||What I would like to change||How I plan to change|
|Too busy to plan meals||Not enough vegetables each day and too many meals out at restaurants||Eat one more cup of vegetables per day and go out to eat out only once a week||Plan a week of meals and snacks to have on hand; include a vegetable with afternoon snack; plan a weekly reward|
Contact your Penn State Extension county office or visit Penn State extension for more information on health and nutrition programs. Also check out www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org for helpful tips to help you and your family eat more fruits and vegetables.
Fung, T., et al. “Long-term change in client quality is associated with body weight change in men and women.” J Nutr 145, no. 8 (2015): 1850–56.
Spahn, J., et al. “State of the evidence regarding behavior change theories and strategies in nutrition counseling to facilitate health and food behavior change.” J Am Diet Assoc 110, no. 6 (2010): 879–91.
Prepared by Lynn James, senior extension educator.
Reviewed by Megan Wall, dietetic intern, and Sharon McDonald, senior extension educator and food safety specialist.