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Set Appropriate Personal Goals To Achieve Success

Whether your resolutions to adopt a healthier lifestyle come with the New Year, before special occasions, or as it's time to get into that swim suit, there are ways to make sure those resolutions will last.

To be effective, resolutions and goals need to be specific, realistic and customized to fit the individual, says United HealthCare of California Inc., which devised some suggestions for renewed "healthier living" goals that should be easier to keep.


It's not enough to have a goal to eat healthy foods; instead, make these goals measurable. Some examples:

Buy a low-fat cookbook and prepare five of the recipes next month.

Follow the Food Guide Pyramid for one week.

Substitute non-alcoholic alternatives for alcohol at get-togethers.

Decrease caffeine intake by drinking only water while at work.

Substitute low-fat and non-fat products, such as skim milk and non-fat yogurt, into your diet.

Read food nutrition labels and eliminate purchases of products that derive more than 30 percent of their calories from fat.

For one month, don't replace junk food when it's gone from the cupboard.

Eat one meal a month at a health food restaurant.

Eat something for breakfast every day, no matter how small a portion.

Fitness and Leisure

Setting unrealistic goals — for example, to lose 25 pounds in a month — can be the first step toward giving up. Choosing achievable goals is more likely to get you on your way to improved fitness. Some possible goals:

Monitor blood pressure weekly.

Listen to a favorite music tape or compact disc only when on a daily walk.

Do 50 sit-ups for every two hours spent watching television.

Volunteer to walk three dogs for the Humane Society each week.

Be active for at least 10 minutes a day.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Don't smoke any cigarettes on National D-Day (The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout).

Take a yoga class.

Try a crossword puzzle this year.

Rent a movie just for yourself once a month.

Schedule yearly preventive care exami-nations (mammogram, prostate cancer screening, Pap smear, well-patient checkup) on time.

Goals targeting physical health shouldn't be the only focus, however. Don't neglect your emotional well-being. In many cases, personal goals involve shame or denial of pleasure for past actions. You should think of your goals as a gift to yourself, United HealthCare of California stressed.

To help maintain emotional well-being, you could resolve to find at least 15 minutes every day to relax and meditate, or to buy a stress-release toy and use it at work when necessary. Writing in a journal three times a week is another possibility.


Call a truce to a long-standing grudge.

Don't raise your voice in anger for one week.

Keep the television off for at least one whole day a week.

Perform an act of kindness to a stranger every week.

Say nothing negative about others for one day.

Once a month, write a letter to someone you care about.

Give someone a hug every day.

In all cases, setting healthy goals you can achieve is a major step toward long-term adoption of healthy lifestyles. Be realistic, because you have to feel good about yourself, and feel that you have succeeded and your goals have been accomplished. Without that feeling of accomplishment, you are more likely to feel overwhelmed and give up, reverting to your previous, unhealthy behavior.

Address: United HealthCare of California Inc., 4500 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 120, Long Beach, CA 90804-3270.

© 2001 Health Resources Publishing