The beginning of a new year has to be the most celebrated date on the calendar. It’s a time for reflection, but what makes this time of year so unique is you simultaneously get to look forward. Maybe you’re turning a milestone age. Maybe this is the year you finally get to enjoy all those retirement plans you made years ago. Or, maybe, this is the year you focus on yourself without any guilt or self-judgement.
To that last point, self-care should always be at the top of your list. Whether that’s physical exercise or protecting your mental health, the start of a new year is the best time to focus or refocus on your wellness journey.
How to start your health and wellness journey the right way
We’ll try our best to stay away from the word “resolution.” New year’s resolutions tend to be hit or miss when talking about your wellness journey. Rather, we’re talking about something that is baked into your lifestyle. You may have times when you are more active in your wellness, and times you wish you did better. The goal is to persevere and keep moving forward because it’s part of who you are and what you do.
That said, the start of any wellness journey should begin with goal setting. Knowing what’s important for your health and how you want to challenge yourself will guide a lot of the decisions you make.
1. Set your health goals
Whenever you set goals, especially at the beginning of a new year, it’s easy to get overambitious. Try to fight that urge. Instead, think about achievable goals broken down into milestones, so you can build towards something more grand.
Think about your health goals like this:
- Try moving from one physical activity per week to two.
- Walk or jog for ten more minutes than you do right now.
- Incorporate one completely healthy meal per day into your diet (eat whatever you want for your other meals).
The objective is to slowly build these actions and activities into habits and routines. Once you’ve achieved these goals, don’t feel pressure to move on to the next level or push yourself further. If you feel good with where you are, stay there. If you do have an appetite to challenge yourself, then do it. Regardless of what you do, don’t judge yourself for it. You got this far. Feel proud of yourself and maybe in the future you can up the pace.
2. Do exercises you enjoy
Listen, your wellness journey should not feel like a burden. It might be challenging and force you to learn new things, but if you’re not enjoying yourself and feeding your soul, then don’t include it in your routine. Your mission is to find a health routine that works for you. That’s the only way it will be sustainable.
The way you manage that process is by being honest with yourself. Where are you currently on your health journey? Has physical exercise been a priority, or are you just getting started? Have you spoken with a doctor about what kind of intensity you’re able to sustain? You need to figure these things out before deciding how to move forward, and once you do, your next step should be to explore.
3. Explore different fitness and health options
There is no one-size-fits-all path to improving your health. At the start of your wellness journey, don’t be afraid to explore different possibilities. For example, Boomerang hosts different workshops every day—from dance and cardio classes to meditation and mindfulness workshops and even modified fitness classes like Chair Yoga. It’s your opportunity to try different activities you may not be familiar with or always wanted to test out.
Once you find something you like, you’re on your way to building a new routine, which is the next step in your wellness journey.
4. Build a routine and stick to it
Sounds simple, right? We all strive to build positive habits, but building and sustaining a routine takes some effort. The good news is you’ve already got the first two steps down, which are knowing what you’re after (improved health) and setting goals to get there. You even know you should break those goals into smaller, more achievable milestones.
To really kickstart your wellness journey and turn it into a routine that fits with your lifestyle, try these steps:
- Structure your day: Write down what time you plan to workout or take part in a wellness activity. Depending on your schedule, this can change daily and that’s OK.
- Schedule in a backup time: Every day is different and you may not get to take part in that yoga class or go for your walk at the same time you expected. For that reason, it’s important to schedule backup times so you can stick to your routine.
- Test and adjust: You may not get it right the first time. You may think that waking up at 6:00 a.m for a yoga class is your thing, only to realize you really miss that extra hour of sleep. Test out your new routine and don’t be afraid to make adjustments.
5. Monitor your progress
This is really how you know if you set the right goals and built the right routine. You need to monitor your progress and monitor different elements of your progress to make sure you’re on the right track.
The first things you need to monitor are your goals. Are you doing two days of physical activity instead of one? Are you walking or jogging for ten minutes longer? Start there and give yourself a grade.
The next thing you need to monitor is your routine. Are you sticking to it? Are you waking up at 6:00 a.m. or are you hitting the snooze button more mornings than not? If you’re consistently operating outside your schedule, it’s a sign you need to adjust your routine.
The final thing you need to monitor is the progress you’re making with your health. How do you feel? Are you more flexible? Less tired? Are morning meditations easing your anxiety and making your mind more clear? At the end of the day, you want results. You want your health to be improved. As long as you follow through on your goals and stick to your routine, then you should see some improvement. But if you’re not improving at the pace you envisioned, go back to your goals and readjust.
6. Share your wellness journey with friends and family
With everything we’ve shared in this post, the best thing you can do is not do any of this alone. Staying motivated is hard enough. Trying to stay motivated without any support is even more difficult. That’s why you should consider including others in your wellness journey.
What does including others look like?
- Ask a friend/neighbour to take walks with you (following all safety protocols)
- Sign up for one of Boomerang’s virtual workshops and join a community of like-minded people
- Tell a family member or close friend about your goals and have them do weekly check ins
The cold months in Canada make it tough to connect with others. That’s when virtual classes and video conversations become more important. Being around other people gives you an energy boost you can’t replicate on your own. It’s also a good way to stay accountable when you know there are other people who expect you to be present.
There’s no age limit on setting health goals
One way or another, your health stays with you. It’s never too late to take actions that improve your mental and physical health. If you’ve taken your health for granted or if you want to improve what you’re already doing, the new year is the perfect time.
Get started by signing up with Boomerang. With Boomerang, older adults can register for a variety of wellness classes each month where passionate instructors are waiting to guide you on your way to living your best life.
Learn more about our online wellness workshops and classes.