A positive start

Have you ever tried giving up smoking, alcohol or junk food in an attempt to improve your health? While setting health goals are superb, we often focus too much on giving something up rather than making positive resolutions to start.

Think about some of the goals you’ve set in the past, perhaps around diet, fitness or work. Now think about how often you’ve used the following words: no, not, never, stop, lose, reduce or quit. If these words feature a lot when you set goals you could be setting yourself up for a fall.

Quit the negativity

Let’s look at the following goal: ‘I’m going to quit all sugar and quit eating all bad foods’. This phrase uses three negative words and immediately makes you think about denial, and restriction, rather than a positive change. As our minds tend to focus more on negative rather than positive words, the overall feeling about this goal will be negative. Negative feelings towards your goal ultimately means you’ll be less likely to achieve it.

Also, you’ve probably realised that as soon as we’re told we can’t or mustn’t have something, we think about and want this thing even more.

Reframe your goals

So how can you make a negative goal into a positive one? A good step is to start by thinking about what you really want to achieve. If you’re thinking about cutting out sugar, what is your end goal? Is it to lose weight? Feel more energised? Have better digestion? Try to focus your goals around the end result with a positive angle.  So you could change the goal of ‘quitting sugar’ to ‘I’m going to prepare myself healthy snacks each day to boost my energy’. Or if you’re trying to cut back on alcohol your goal could be ‘I’m going to spend at least two nights a week doing something active that I enjoy and make myself a healthy fresh juice afterwards’.

Often by adding a healthy activity to your routine, you’ll automatically cut out an unhealthy habit without the focus being on what you’re missing out on.

How to reframe your goals:

Original negative goal – ‘I’m going to stop reading my emails last thing at night’

New positive goal – ‘I’m going to treat myself to a relaxing deep 30 minute wind down before sleep each night’.

Original negative goal – ‘I’m going to cut out all carbs’

New positive goal – ‘I’m going to plan some tasty healthy lunches for the week that include some lean protein, plenty of veg and a small amount of healthy carbohydrate’.

Original negative goal – ‘I’m going to stop being so irritable at work’

New positive goal – ‘I’m going to say at least one positive thing to everyone I come into contact with at work today.’

Remember, a negative mind will not produce positive results.

Written by Ruth Tongue
(MSc Nutrition)