It's About Wellness
Expert advice on setting fitness goals you can achieve
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Good nutrition choices promote wellness, consistency matters, and success becomes sweeter than sugar.
Though setting and achieving a health-related goal has much to do with the body, ironically, it may have more to do with the mind.
Our approach to nutrition and fitness can be tied to how we approach other challenges in life. That’s why when a new client walks through the door at Sweat Therapy Fitness, owner Kim Bibeau often asks questions that may not at first appear to have to do with health.
Rather than making conversation, Bibeau aims to find out more about a client’s past achievements, because those achievements can in turn be connected to fitness. “Say a client tells me they paid off a big credit card debt over 12 months,” Bibeau said. “Let’s build on that. Say they got a bachelor’s degree in criminology and it took eight years — it didn’t happen right away.”
Clients sometimes come in with an unrealistic timetable for meeting their goals, Bibeau said, such as I want to lose ___ pounds by ___ date.
— Kim Bibeau, owner of Sweat Therapy Fitness
“You have to realize that any goal that’s worth meeting is going to take time and effort,” advised Dr. Larry Kubiak, director of psychological services at Tallahassee Memorial Behavioral Health Center. He suggests forming a specific plan of action and meeting with your doctor, especially if you have a medical condition such as diabetes, prediabetes or food allergies. “You’ll want to see if your doctor agrees with your goal, whether they feel it’s realistic, or if they have suggestions to offer,” he said.
Upon meeting a new client, registered dietician Heather Fisher does an eating behavior assessment. “I won’t tell someone what they can and can’t have. Instead, I look at the timing of what someone eats, the components of what they eat, and we make modifications from there.” Part of Fisher’s job, she said, is to translate the science of nutrition into its practical application — one’s eating habits. Like Bibeau, she counsels a goal-setting approach based on the client’s strengths.
The dietitian joined Dr. Kubiak and Bibeau in stressing the importance of not making changes too quickly. “It’s about wellness, not weight.”
Keep It Small, at First
We’re told to aim big in life. But keeping it small is rule #1 in behavior change. Kicking off a new eating plan may be as simple, Fisher said, as adding a piece of fruit a day to your diet (or even every other day) if you never eat fruit, or cooking a healthy meal at home once a week if you’ve grown too used to convenience foods for dinner.
Setting a series of small goals was crucial for Bibeau in losing 90 pounds over two and a half years. “I was tired of counting calories,” she said. “The first thing I said was that I’m going to exercise three times a week. I did it for a month, and it got easier. Next I decided to change my breakfast, and not worry yet about lunch or dinner.”