Health and Cooking

Setting Goals and Cognitive Restructuring

For whatever reason, I am feeling somewhat empty-headed today. Eh, it is one of those things. You go along, writing and teaching, to wake up one morning and have nothing to say on a day that you really need it. So, I looked elsewhere for something that spark my sleepy mind this morning and this is what sparked it:


May promises, found on a closed Facebook group I am a part of. Not entirely sure where the group “leader” found it…now that I say that, I see a web address (HAHA!)


This got me thinking about goal-setting. Do you have goals for your health and fitness routines? If so, can you name them? Are they reasonable? If not, why not? Is it because you are not ready to take the next step (which is perfectly acceptable; only those ready to help themselves will see lasting results)? Or is it because you put it off until “later”?


Setting SMART goals is vital to the success of your overall aim in healthy. SMART goals keep you motivated. They keep you focused. They keep you seeing what you want to see: results.


What does SMART stand for?


  • Specific: ask yourself the following questions: Why is this goal being created? What are the benefits? Who is involved (does it involve one or more
    Don’t forget these wonderful benefits of a healthy lifestyle!

    persons)? What needs to be accomplished? What are the eventual outcome or steps that are desired? Where will the goals be accomplished (gym, work, home, etc)?

  • Measurable: this is more than just what the scale reads. Make sure you notice how you feel, what good behaviors you are/have developed, how your clothes fit, and the positive reinforcement give by others when suddenly, out of the blue, they say “Wow, you look great!” (Caution: don’t go seeking praise; you’ll only be disappointed.)
  • Attainable: assess your abilities, skills, and attitudes toward the outcomes you desire and determine whether the goal is within reach. If it is realistic, you will be able and more willing to reach for it; if not, consider breaking it down into smaller steps or reassessing what may be completely unrealistic. Remember, belief is everything!
  • Relevant: pertinent to your unique needs, interests, and abilities; helps with motivation!
  • Time-bound: keeping a schedule or time frame in which you want to accomplish a reasonable goal enables you to take incremental steps in the right direction toward your overall, biggest goals.


So, again, what are your goals? Perhaps you aren’t yet ready to start a diet or exercise regimen. No worries! You’ll get there. What are you ready to do?


It can be anything. I know several people who, as of recently, have decided to tackle the rut of negative thinking that they’ve fallen into. They find something to be thankful for each day. Others take one unhealthy behavior and work on it until it becomes a healthy, satisfying, easy habit. Then there are the people who have outlasted their New Year’s resolutions and are thriving in their workouts.


The most important fact to remember about setting goals is this: the power to control your health rests within your hands. Seriously. No matter how hard anyone else tries (and trust me, I’m a fitness instructor and I want to help everyone who enters my classes), no one can help you unless, or until, you are ready to help yourself.


There are a few ways of surveying yourself to see if you are ready to take the next step (whatever it may be):


  • Ask yourself: am I ready? Perhaps you aren’t. There are other external factors going on in your life at the moment that prevent you from focusing on a new regimen. Take care of these antecedents (emotions or situations that precede a certain behavior…these are not always bad) that block you from setting your goals.
  • Ask yourself: do I really care? This makes a huge difference. Everyone comes at health and wellness regimens with different mindsets. Some are in what we call a precontemplation stage, where they have no desire to change, or a contemplation stage, where they are weighing the pros and cons of changing one or more behaviors. Preparation stage mindsets include getting ready to make the change, even starting the routine, but sporadically; while action and maintenance mindsets practice and incorporate new behaviors into your lifestyle. It is always important to keep in mind that anything can cause a relapse, or a discontinuation of the current healthy behavior being practiced. Don’t beat yourself up over it. If you can, continue as you have as soon as is possible. If you cannot, deal with the stressors in your life before resuming your behaviors.
  • Ask yourself: is it worth it? If you perceive more cons than pros of a certain behavior, you are less likely to do it.
  • Ask yourself: why am I doing this? Many people seek acceptance and start regimens that are too tough. If this is you: stop! Self-worth does not come from others; it comes from yourself.


I would like to leave you with a bit of cognitive restructuring: the ability to turn negative thoughts into positive, reinforcing ones. I think this is possibly the most important aspect of healthy lifestyles. If you believe you can do it, even if you fail the first few times at the behavior,you will succeed. Sometimes, we have to help ourselves in this process, of course. It is nice to have that pedicure after a month’s long, hard work in which we attained our reasonable goal of losing 8 pounds.


But extrinsic rewards are not the point to developing healthy lifestyles. Intrinsic rewards, those positive feelings of self-worth and genuine happiness over the way our bodies (and minds and souls) feel, are what really count. When you feel great, when you feel happy, when you notice that you are not so negative or down on yourself (and, by extension, others), you have really gotten the gist of cognitive restructuring. We all fail. We all fall flat on our faces. It is those who laugh and get back on their feet, who refuse to let their failures conquer them, who succeed. They are the happiest, healthiest, most positive people living.


Another inspirational visual from IShapeMe.



American Council on Exercise. ACE Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant Manual, 2nd Ed. USA, 2008; p. 283-284, 330-331, 337.


A special “THANK YOU” to Amanda Easton for finding all these great inspirational pictures and words, and posting them for the rest of her group!


8 thoughts on “Setting Goals and Cognitive Restructuring”

  1. Yes! Forget the haters. Believe in your dreams, even if you’re the only one who does. Thanks I needed that.

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