In the last 12 months, my weight has shot up like crazy and I won’t lie – I have been deeply concerned! Lots of changes in my personal life coupled with moving to a brand new country in the middle of a raging pandemic basically prompted me down the path of endless and mindless emotional eating, and well, here we are.
The impact of these past few months goes much beyond my weight though! My emotional and mental wellness has dipped, I feel seriously lacking in energy, and let’s not even talk about motivation!
All this to say, of late, my health and overall wellness have been quite on top of my mind. Bit by bit, I am doing my best to get to the level of healthiness I want for myself (yeah, there is no ‘running a marathon’ goal in sight!) but obviously, it’s a process and not something that happens overnight.
My struggles with my weight are definitely not recent, but I’m also at a stage in my life where I do not want to fall prey to the ‘lose 15 pounds in 15 days’ kind of mentality. I want to create sustainable habits that work for me for the long run, and not just some quick-fix solutions (because let’s be real, when it comes to our overall wellness, there are very few quick-fix solutions).
So obviously, when I sat down with my journal trying to map out my plans and hopes for the year, the first thing that went on the list was ‘heal myself and fix my health issues’. It was a conscious decision to make it more about my overall wellness rather than just a number on the scale.
All this ultimately led to thinking about wellness and fitness goals that I wanted to focus on rather than just fixating on losing weight. I want to improve my fitness levels so that I am not a pile of panting mess at the end of a walk! The gradual weight/fat loss would only be an added benefit. As one of my colleagues at work likes to say, ‘focus on the input, and the output will take care of itself’.
I’ll share a few wellness and fitness goals in this post so that if you are on a similar path, you can take some encouragement to focus on overall wellness instead of just losing weight!
20 Wellness Goals for Better Overall Health That Have Nothing to do with Losing Weight
The marketing gurus within the fitness industry have made it easy to make it seem like good health all boils down to what the number on the scale indicates. In the pursuit of wellness, it is really quite easy to get caught up in the dieting and weight loss cycle.
Truth is, real wellness encompasses way more than just your weight. If you’re keen on following a gentler approach to better overall health, check out these 20 wellness goals that have nothing to do with losing weight:
1| Turn off electronics an hour before bedtime
If you’re like me, your bedroom has basically become an extension of your office – till only a few weeks back, I was pottering away on my laptop in bed until the wee hours of the morning way too often! Not only is this really bad for our sleep, but it’s also not good for our mental health.
Recent studies have shown that blue light emitted from screens interferes with our natural sleep rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep and get quality rest. So try turning off all electronics an hour before bedtime – this includes your laptop, phone, TV, etc.
If you want to read before bed, reading an actual physical book would be best, but a Kindle is a decent alternative (from what I understand, unlike phones, tablets or laptops, it does not emit blue light).
2| Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep
Carrying on from the earlier point, try to get in quality sleep for at least 7-8 hours every night. Among other things, I am massively focusing on my sleeping habits this year, and I have first-hand noticed the impact of 7-8 hours of deep, quality sleep.
Quality sleep helps to improve our mood, cognitive function, physical health, and more. So make it a priority in your life!
If you’re struggling with falling asleep or staying asleep, here are some tips that have worked for me: establish a regular bedtime routine, read something soothing for about 20-30 minutes in bed, keep your bedroom cool and dark, repeat bedtime affirmations, and mantras, etc.
3| Get a health check-up done annually
It’s always a good idea to get a health check-up done annually, especially if you have any health issues or concerns. This is your chance to find out what might be going on with your body, and to get some expert advice on how to address these issues.
Even if you’re generally feeling healthy, it’s still important to get a check-up done – after all, prevention is always better than cure!
Some of the tests/screenings that are typically recommended include blood pressure tests, cholesterol levels tests, thyroid function tests, etc.
4| Find out your family’s health history
It’s also a good idea to know your family’s health history, as this can give you some clues about potential health concerns that you may face in the future.
For example, if heart disease is prevalent in your family, it would be a good idea to focus on cardiovascular health and prevention. Similarly, if there is a history of cancer in your family, you may want to focus on early detection and prevention measures.
By being aware of your family’s health history, you can take steps to be proactive about your own health. It also arms your doctors with more information for times when you need any medical consultations.
5| Move more
I know, I know, a goal titled ‘move more’ is not going to fit into the SMART framework when it comes to goal setting, but I hope you get the picture.
Moving your body more goes beyond the 30-40 minutes of exercise you’re getting a few times a week. Data from the blue zones shows that ‘moving naturally’ is a key element of long-term health. Mind you, it does not say ‘exercise for X number of minutes every week’. That’s not to say there is no merit in exercising regularly, rather we need to expand our minds to movement for overall wellness beyond just the time dedicated to exercise.
How do you get started? Well, take a look at your health app. How many daily steps does it show right now? Add 2,000 steps to that and progress from there. No need to jump to 10,000 steps a day from the get-go if you would rather scale up gently.
6| Make time for regular exercise
Speaking of exercise, it’s still an important factor when it comes to improving our health. Make time for regular exercise – aim for at least 30-40 minutes a few times a week.
Exercise has been shown to improve mental health, physical health, energy levels, and more. So find something you enjoy doing and make it a part of your weekly routine!
If you’re struggling to find the time or motivation to exercise, here are a few tips: start with something small and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time, find an exercise buddy, set simple goals, etc.
I’ve always struggled with exercising, but this year, I am taking a cue from James Clear’s book on habits Atomic Habits and simplifying it down to the bare minimum, to begin with. Instead of making my goal as ‘get 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week’, I am currently calling it ‘Put on my walking shoes after dinner’, which easily leads to a 15-20 minute walk most days. Once this becomes an established habit, I will expand it further.
7| Eat and drink sensibly
You don’t need to read through any medical or health literature to know that drinking lots of alcohol every day or binge drinking on weekends or having a regular diet consisting of only highly processed foods can’t be good for your health!
Make better choices when it comes to your eating and drinking habits. And no, healthy eating habits do not translate automatically to giving up all of the carbs! Try to listen to your body’s cues. Set up rules for yourself, if you must, but aim for a well-balanced mix of foods so that you do not end up feeling like you’re depriving yourself, which in turn can lead to unhealthy binge eating!
8| Make more meals at home
Somewhat related to the earlier point, but one easy way to control your eating habits is by cooking more at home. It’s in fact one of my favorite stress busters and I know that the periods when I forsake home-cooked meals for eating too much outside food are the periods when my overall health suffers that most.
Not only is cooking at home more affordable, but it also gives you complete control over the ingredients that go into your food. No hidden sugars or unhealthy fats here!
If you’re not used to cooking or are short on time, start with simple recipes and work your way up. I love collecting recipes and trying out new ones, and buying cookbooks has become something of a hobby! My recent favorite cookbooks include Eating Out Loud, Simply Julia, and Everyday Entertaining (which works well even when you’re not really entertaining!)!
9| Challenge yourself from time to time
It’s important to have some goals in our lives that keep us feeling challenged and motivated. Challenging ourselves can take on many different forms – from signing up for a race, learning something new, or simply trying to do better than we did yesterday. I’ve even got a massive list of 30-day challenges that you can try out!
The key is to find something that really sparks your interest and gets us excited – it’s always good to change up things a bit and expand our horizons beyond the regular routine!
10| Get rid of clutter
Make room for more in your life by getting rid of clutter. Clutter not only takes up physical space, but it can also weigh us down mentally and emotionally.
For physical clutter – you don’t have to go all out and buy any fancy organizing tools, but you totally can if pretty, color-coordinated organized boxes are your thing! Start by going through one room/space at a time and sorting through everything. If you haven’t used something in the past year, chances are you don’t need it!
For mental/emotional clutter – try to make journaling a regular habit, or try speaking to a trained therapist/healer. Healing emotional wounds, getting rid of emotional baggage, processing your thoughts meaningfully – these are all important (and often overlooked) parts of living a healthy life.
11| Spend time on your hobbies
One of the best ways to relax and de-stress is by spending time on our hobbies. Whether it’s reading, painting, writing, hiking, biking, or playing an instrument – find something that brings you joy and stick with it!
Not only do we get a sense of satisfaction from pursuing our hobbies, but they can also help improve our mental well-being, creativity, and productivity.
So go ahead and invest in some supplies, buy that juicy thriller that everyone’s touting as the next Gone Girl!, or book some hobby classes at the local recreation center for yourself.
12| Connect with loved ones regularly
The last two years have only solidified the importance of regular social interactions and spending meaningful time with your loved ones, be it, friends or family.
Social media has its perks and can make you feel part of a community, but there’s nothing quite like good old-fashioned human interaction – laughing until you cry, sharing tears, and just being there for one another through thick and thin.
Make it a point to schedule regular (physical or virtual) meetups with your loved ones, even if it means sacrificing some of your ‘me time’. You’ll be surprised at how recharged and refreshed you’ll feel after spending some quality time with the people who matter to you most.
13| Curate the content you consume
I was speaking to one of my aunt’s recently and she mentioned to me how the constant news cycle about the recent spread of Omicron was really getting her down. Of course, I told her to absolutely stop watching the news channels for her mental peace, but it’s not just the news channels that we need to be careful about when it comes to protecting our mental health.
Our generation probably spends a lot more time browsing through social media feeds instead of news channels, but the end result can be quite the same. If the content being shared by the accounts you follow makes you more anxious or less than, it’s time to change the channel. Or in this case, hit unfollow pronto! Your sanity is precious – do not give it up so easily to people for whom you are nothing more than just a number on their account.
Also, think of content beyond social media. The books you read, the podcasts you’re tuning into, the TV shows you watch, the newsletters you’re subscribing to – are they making you feel good, or are they bringing you down? Make conscious decisions about the content you’re allowing into your life.
14| Actively practice self-care and self-love
Self-care and self-love are not one and the same, but they are both incredibly important.
Self-care can be as simple as taking a hot bath at the end of a long day, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, or eating healthy foods. It’s about listening to your body and mind and doing what is necessary to take care of yourself.
Self-love, on the other hand, is about accepting and loving all aspects of yourself – your good traits, your bad traits, everything in between. It’s about being gentle and kind to yourself, even when you’re feeling down or struggling.
The way I see it, self-care is just another aspect of practicing self-love.
Both self-care and self-love are essential for a healthy mind and body, so make sure to practice them both regularly!
15| Be on top of your finances
Financial wellness is sadly such an overlooked part of our lives.
Money is a huge source of stress for many people, and it’s definitely not something that we want to add on top of our list of concerns. So try to be as financially savvy as possible and stay on top of your expenses and budget.
No matter what your income levels, try to get started on investing and saving as early as you can. Your future self will thank you for it.
Money management tools like Mint or You Need a Budget make it super convenient to track your finances. And you don’t even need something fancy, to be honest. Google Sheets works just as well. I’ve been using a template that I made for myself for the last couple of months – will share that soon once I’ve tested it out to my contentment.
16| Get involved in some cause you believe in
Giving back to society is not only incredibly fulfilling, but it’s also great for your mental health.
There are so many ways to get involved in a cause that you care about – you can start off by donating money, then move on to donating your time or skills by volunteering, and even just spreading the word. Find something that speaks to your heart and go for it!
There is something unbelievably rewarding about being able to help out people less fortunate or in different life circumstances than us!
17| Learn to appreciate the now
This is one of the hardest wellness lessons I am learning.
It can be really tough to live in the present moment sometimes, especially when we’re constantly bombarded by notifications and distractions. But learning to live in the now is key to a happy life.
The past is what it is – we really can’t go back in time and change life. The future will be what we will make of it, but that won’t mean much if we don’t make the most of our present.
18| Laugh every day
This is an easy one, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
Laughter truly is the best medicine – it releases endorphins and makes us happy. So make sure to find something that makes you laugh every day, whether it’s a funny movie, a stand-up comedy special or just spending time with your funniest friends.
19| Spend some time outside every day
This is another one that can be tough to do, but it’s so worth it.
Spending time in nature and especially in the morning light has been shown to improve mental health and well-being. It can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms, and promote feelings of calmness and peace.
If you’re not able to get outside for a long hike or walk, even just sitting outside and taking in the fresh air can do wonders. Bonus points if you listen to nature sounds while you’re doing it.
20| Create your personal ‘destress’ kit
This one is a must for anyone who struggles with stress.
A de-stress kit can be anything that helps you relax and de-stress in moments of high anxiety or tension. It could be something as simple as a few yoga poses, some deep breathing exercises, or a list of things that make you happy and help you calm down. Being conscious about things that relieve your stress can be extremely helpful when you find yourself in the throes of chaos and anxiety.
For me, reading a good romance novel is the #1 thing in my de-stress kit, followed closely by taking a hot shower, and also repeating some mantras to make myself feel calm and safe.
What are some of your wellness goals for this year? Share them in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you! :)