How to Kick-Off Your Health Goals For 2014

When saying goodbye to an old year and jumping into a new one, many of us will set new year’s resolutions. And it isn’t any surprise that the majority of us want to lose weight, start exercising or eating clean. Getting active and cleaning up your diet can have a tremendously positive effect on your health. Here are a few tips to help you stick with your New Year’s Resolutions.

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1) Set “SuPeR Smart” GoalsSSelf Controllable (Your goal must be something that you can control), P – Public (Reinforce your goal by telling another person, or possibly posting it somewhere for others to see), R – Reward (Allow yourself a reward for when you reach your goal), SSpecific (Make sure your goal is clear-cut and not too general), MMeasurable (For example, losing a specific number of pounds or setting a specific number of push-ups you would like to do), AAdjustable (It’s okay to change your goal to accommodate your lifestyle), RRealistic (The goal needs to be achievable), TTime Based (Set a timeline for your goal, or a date for when you would like to achieve your goal)

2) Find an online community or app to keep you motivated during your progress. Bodybuilding.com is a great website with lots of articles on nutrition and exercise. MindBodyGreen shares articles on holistic wellness, including nutrition, yoga and other health based topics.

3) Do your research with any nutrition or fitness plan. What works for others may not work for you. There are so many opinions on the internet on which “diets” and exercises are best for your health. Become aware of what works for your body and don’t compare yourself to others.

4) Keep your stress at bay. Have fun with your workouts, don’t stress over what you eat. Remember, one healthy meal won’t make you healthy, one unhealthy meal does not make you unhealthy. Get your recommended amount of sleep at night. Remember to breath. Try taking up yoga or meditation. Reducing your stress levels will not only make you feel good but look good as well.

5) Do not give in to the negative images that take up your social networking sites. As if the media did not do  a good enough job portraying it’s idea of “beautiful”, but now “fitspiration” is all over social media. Keep your health goals about your health rather than your appearance. Focus on how healthy choices makes you feel great rather than how it makes you look.

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Is Fitspiration the new Thinspiration?

Thinspiration provides images of women with “thin” figures. The purpose is to motivate women to become thin; the consequence of this however is often disordered eating, which is why social networks like Instagram have blocked tags such as #thinspo, etc. But could Thinspo’s new counterpart Fitspo be just as dangerous and damaging to women’s health?

There is no doubt fitspo is paved with good intentions. Women with fit bodies, flat stomachs, six-pack abs, well-shaped butts and arms are seen in images often with a catch phrase such as “strong is the new skinny” or “Complaining won’t burn calories”. And I will be the first to admit that I spent countless nights looking at this “fitspiration”, thinking that if I only worked a little harder in the gym I would have the perfect body, but was I really inspired?

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I am a huge advocate for clean eating and exercising. However when it comes to women’s body image, I believe every woman should feel great in her own skin as long as she is healthy. I pass no judgment to my friends, and those I don’t know, who are followers of fitspo and I admire the dedication and passion it takes to build a fit physique. That being said, a person should not feel unhappy about their appearance because they don’t lift weights, practise yoga, or go for runs every week.

A part of me recognized that I wasn’t being inspired, in fact I realized I was only fixated on what I believed to be my flaws and became extremely critical of my body. It was the shame I felt that got me into the gym everyday, and I am confident that others have the same reaction as they go through their long feed of “fitspiration”.

How have we let images that promote low self-esteem be confused with inspiration? Although fitspo is suppose to be conducive to good health, all it has become is a hub for women to compare their bodies. It creates a new standard of what they believe they should look like to be happy, as if magazines, movies and television weren’t enough. Images of anorexic women can undoubtedly be defined as unhealthy; but it’s my opinion that constantly comparing your body to any shape or size negatively affects your self-esteem. The only standard any person should hold for their body is healthy and happy. Women need to properly educate themselves on nutrition and exercise to make decisions based what is best for their personal health and not base their well-being by a series of images we call “fitspiration”.

So, where do I find my fitness inspiration now?

  1. My parents. Between my dad waking up before 5 A.M. to get in his workout (-word on the street is that he is back to the weight of his football playing years) and my mom’s holistic approach to controlling her chronic pain, they both show serious commitment to their health.
  2. Professional bodybuilders. Angelica Kathleen, Bella Falconi, Karina Baymiller, Terica Messmer to name a few. They all show extreme dedication and diligence towards their fitness goals. And I enjoy watching their journeys unfold.
  3. Most importantly, myself. Practising yoga has helped me to remember how strong, capable and beautiful my body is. I remind myself constantly that I go to the gym not only to benefit my health but because I thoroughly enjoy it. I set goals for myself, and I look back at my accomplishments with pride.