Experts weigh in on the best ways to make — and maintain — healthy and attainable New Year’s resolutions.
By Connie K. Ho, Contributor
With 2014 here, the new year is not only a time for celebration but also a time to reflect on work accomplished in the past year. Many set out resolutions for themselves, goals that they want to accomplish during the new year. The Pacific Citizen recently spoke to a panel of experts who all pointed out that goals should not only be set during the beginning of the year but also throughout the year to ensure success in attaining them.
Following is some other advice on accomplishing one’s goals in 2014.
Make your professional goals based on your passions.
Angelia Trinidad is a San Diego-based entrepreneur who is on a mission to help others achieve their wildest dreams. Last December, the University of California, Los Angeles, graduate raised $28,000 on crowd-funding website Kickstarter for Passion Planner and surpassed her goal of $19,000. Passion Planner features focus sections, inspirational quotes, a written notebook, an appointment calendar, to-do lists, among other features; it’s Trinidad’s way of helping others set their goals and find what they love to do.
“It was really epic, I have always had big dreams for this planner,” said Trinidad, a 23-year-old who majored in art.
The planner includes a goal-setting guide where individuals can sit down, map short-term and long-term goals, and list steps to accomplishing those goals.
“It makes you think, ‘What do I really want in my life? What do I want to accomplish? What are my actual goals? What would make me happy?’ When you do that, when you decide, ‘What would I do every day that I would love’ and then you actually do that every day, that’s when you start to feel happy; that’s when you start to feel fulfilled,” Trinidad said.
An important step in helping Trinidad reach her goal was momentum.
“This whole planner came about last February, and my perfectionism really, really paralyzed me in moving forward — I couldn’t make decisions,” Trinidad said.
About three months ago, she returned from a family vacation in Hawaii and began talking to a friend about her idea for Passion Planner. Through their discussion, she realized that she was still passionate about the Passion Planner concept and needed to move forward with her idea. For the next two months, she worked on Passion Planner every single day. During that time, she went from working on a prototype and finding a manufacturer to completing the Kickstarter fundraiser.
Setting deadlines was also another helpful tool for Trinidad, and the impeding deadline for her was to get Passion Planner shipped out by Christmas for those who were planning to buy it as gifts for friends.
“When you don’t have a deadline, you wait until the last possible minute, so it’s really important to have deadlines — one that’s realistic but also challenging. If you can do something in three minutes, make the deadline three minutes,” Trinidad said. “It was a testament to see what is essential.”
Trinidad, a first-generation Filipino American, cites her parents as a big influence in her life; she saw how they worked hard and continuously helped others, something she strives to do herself.
“I grew up not rich at all; that was a blessing in disguise because it pushed me to follow my passion in drawing and art,” Trinidad said. “My No. 1 tip is to realize that fear can paralyze you, make your goals based on love. If you make your goals based on love and make your love motivate your action, out of love, out of care, out of something positive, then every single step that you make is going to be the right decision even if you fail.”
Focus on the big picture for a healthy lifestyle.
For those who want to boost their health this year, personal trainer and certified yoga instructor Christina Torres emphasizes the need to look at everything with a wider lens.
“I think it’s important to be happy in anyone’s [fitness] goal, not to just think, ‘I want to be skinny, I want to have sick-pack abs’ — you have to look at the big picture,” said Torres, a 25-year-old kinesiology grad who’s based in Arcadia, Calif.
Torres, who is half-Filipina, half-Mexican, has learned this from personal experience. Growing up, she was an active kid but had bad eating habits.
“I ate a lot of everything, I loved to eat — I still love to eat,” said Torres, a personal trainer since 2009. “For me, I have to find a healthy alternative. So, instead of ice cream, get a healthier yogurt. It’s always about healthy alternatives for me.”
In December 2006, her father suffered a heart attack, and her family was taken aback as he had always participated in regular physical activity. They found out that it was his diet that had affected him.
“After my dad’s heart attack, that’s when we, as a family, cut out anything creamy, buttery, cheesy — anything that had saturated fat and a lot of animal fat. We cut all of that out and switched out to chicken, fish, and we cut down on the beef. Definitely, more vegetables,” Torres said. “It definitely helped that we did it as a family — you have support and [we found foods that we could] still all enjoy.”
Her advice for others who want to eat healthier this year is to consume “real fruit, real vegetables, real whole grains.
“Of course, everybody has different priorities with their lifestyle as well, so what might be healthy for you might not be healthy for me, and that’s why it’s important to listen to your body,” Torres continued.
In addition, she recommends that individuals look at the ingredients in their meals.
“When you make your own food, you can control what’s in it,” Torres said. “The key thing is looking at your ingredients when you find something — you could find something really healthy, but you have to look at your ingredients. Don’t be fooled by where you’re buying it.”
Torres also believes in the power of positivity.
“If you’re thinking positive thoughts, if you’re excited to treat your body nicely, then there’s a whole lot more to be excited about,” Torres said. “If you get excited about a healthy meal or you make it yourself, there’s definitely a lot of positivity, love and happiness and that will uplift you.”
Create a plan and environment that supports your goals.
Maria Kang, a 33-year-old social entrepreneur and mother of three boys in Elk Grove, Calif., found herself in a viral moment this past December when a photo of her with the slogan, “What’s your excuse?” was circled around on social media. Kang, dubbed “Fit Mom” by many, has taken that media attention and spearheaded a movement to change the perspective of moms and healthy living. She’s the co-founder of the “No Excuse Mom” online support group, where members share recipes, exercise tips and success stories, among other things.
“I believe that if we want to make change, change is going to have to start at home. It starts with parents, and then it obviously extends to the community and then the nation,” said Kang, who also manages fitness nonprofit “Fitness Without Borders.” “I believe so sternly in the power of one — and the power of one being the parent, especially the mother. If we want to change the course of the nation, we have to change each mother one by one in this country to start taking care of her health because she is the role model, she’s the one taking care of the meals.”
Kang’s own passion for fitness stems from her experience with her mother, a Filipina who has been plagued by a number of health issues.
“She’s very sick. She’s had diabetes in her 20s, strokes in her 30s, heart attacks in her 40s and a kidney transplant,” Kang said. “She doesn’t exercise, she doesn’t eat correctly and she uses prescription pills to alleviate a lot of the symptoms. It really drove me nuts and made me passionate about my own personal health.”
Under the “No Excuse Mom” group, Kang recently released a “No Excuse Fit Mom Calendar” that includes advice on exercise, nutrition and time management, along with information on home workouts. She cites the calendar as both a fitness challenge and motivation for the moms in her group to get in great shape, and proceeds of the calendar will support “Fitness Without Borders” and “No Excuse Mom” initiatives.
“This is an example of what makes people successful. I’m a firm believer that, yeah, there’s a lot of weight-loss programs and diets out there, but the key to success is their motivation and motivation requires you to have a goal, a deadline and a plan,” Kang said. “The current calendar has mom stories — many who are working, many who are struggling with postpartum depression, all of their bodies manifest in different ways, too. Some of them look sort of like mine, and some of them look completely different. I think that’s what’s great about this calendar. It really shows the variety of sizes and shapes and how it manifests in the health benefits because we don’t often see that variety in mainstream media.”
For those who are have their own fitness goals, Kang notes the importance of measuring progress.
“Measure yourself by blood pressure, how fast you can run a mile, how long you can hold a plank, how many push ups you can perform, look at your dress size, do measurements around your waist — these are better ways to measure your progress. And I believe that you should measure your progress because progress is made, progress is measured,” Kang said. “Whatever you do, you have to start slow — change begets change.”
She also stresses the need to create a plan and an environment that supports that plan. Three key people in this environment include a mentor, a supporter who’s aiding the journey as well a follower who is a little behind you on the journey and needs some guidance.
“The environment isn’t just the food that you intake or cleaning out the cupboards, it’s also the people in your environment,” Kang said. “These three people are going to keep you accountable and give you positive energy in moving forward in your fitness goals.”
Originally published on January 17, 2014