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How to Set Realistic Health Goals

A new year is around the corner– what do you want to accomplish in 2015?

Food, Fitness, Finance

The most popular new year resolutions fall under the categories of food, fitness, and finance… conveniently the topics I write about at Budget for Health. I started making goals for myself 3 years ago and am thankful for this habit. I used to think goals were cheesy and a dumb idea until I made a few goals and realized how rewarding it was to check them off! Now you could say I’m hooked on making goals; I make annual goals, monthly goals, and weekly goals. I even make daily goals sometimes with my to-do list for each day. Most importantly, I made realistic health goals.

If you decide to make health-related goals for 2015 I encourage you to tell someone about them. I appreciate the built-in accountability that comes with my blog since I share my annual goals and write a monthly post on what I’ve made for dinner. I also shared mindful eating tips I personally use and I’ve received great feedback from readers who were trying to make weight loss a realistic goal. Since health affects wealth, I want to focus on health-related goals today and share some quick tips that will make accomplishing your goals a reality.

Use the right numbers

So how do you achieve your realistic health goals? If you want to get in better shape, do NOT use the scale as an indicator of success. Take your measurements (chest, waist, hips, etc) as well as monthly photos. A quick Google search will show you how to do these measurements. No one has to see the photos besides you but they will show your progress since you won’t see the tiny changes your body is making on a daily basis. As for eating; do NOT count calories. Focus on portion control and eating PFC (protein, fat, and carbs) at every meal and snack. Instead of jumping right into doing an hour long P90x video every day when you barely worked out once a week before this goal,  start with adding 15 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts to your schedule two days each week. Add a third day when you feel ready. Get the picture?

Make goals within goals

20140812 - healthy foodsThis is a form of reverse engineering. You state your big goal and then list little goals that will get you closer to your big goal (your big realistic health goal of course).

For example: let’s say you have to pay higher premiums this year for health insurance because your waist circumference exceeded the range that gives you the best rate.

Big goal (annual goal): Get waist circumference into the healthy range in order to qualify for the best health insurance premiums

Smaller goals (monthly goals):

Month 1:
Food- Eat a PFC breakfast (especially if you usually skip breakfast or eat a heavy carb breakfast like cereal and milk or fruit)
Fitness- go for a 10-minute walk after dinner

Month 2:
Food- Switch from flavored, fruited yogurt to plain, full-fat yogurt and add your own fruit
Fitness- do one HIIT workout per week

Month 3:
Food- Buy a water bottle you really like and drink 64 ounces each day.
Fitness- take the stairs instead of the elevator at work

The goals may seem silly since they are so small but they will help you form habits. It is overwhelming to do an overhaul on your fridge/pantry and fill it with healthy products but if you swap one thing out at a time then the transition will be smoother and less stressful. Notice none of the goals have to do with calories! Gradual, healthy changes, folks.

Write it out

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The writing part helps you to see progress. Make tally marks on your calendar for every 8 ounces of water you drink that day. Put a big fat red X through the day if you get in some physical activity. Make a grocery list so you don’t make spontaneous purchases of unhealthy food that’s not on your list. Make a list of meal ideas so you aren’t staring into the fridge when you get home from work hoping dinner will magically appear.  I’ll say it again: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

With these tips, I know you will put yourself on the path to success. Just like investing, good health is something that takes patience and perseverance to achieve. I’d love to hear the small changes you will be making in 2015 that will lead to something great.

Are you a goal setter? Why or why not? 

This post has been written by Jessica from


AUTHOR Derek Sall

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.


  1. I think the best way to succeed in your New Years resolution goals is to start off early. Slowly ease into the goal instead of starting it the day of.

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