Health Goals That Work
What if the secret to getting what you want is picking positive goals? Health goals that work mean you focus more on adding a good thing than taking away something you feel is “wrong.” When you focus on what you don’t want to do, you often end up more inclined to do it.
Just this week I was reminded how it’s important to always look in the direction you want to go.
There we were–four Baby Boomers from the flatlands taking a mountain bike lesson in Moab, Utah, the greatest mountain biking place on the planet! Our teachers were a professional mountain bike racer, and a wizened retired federal worker named Brooks who said he’d ridden every trail in Moab. I believed him.
I was nervous. I had bad experience on a mountain bike when I first move to Denver. You can read about that here: https://deborahrankinrd.com/a-gratitude-journal-transformed-my-mountain-biking-failure/ The short version of that story is that I started crying, gave up, and went home.
As we prepared to climb a steep, rocky trail with a tiny little channel between two boulders, Brooks told us to always look ahead, to the other side of the obstacle. “If you stare at the rock, you’ll hit it every time.” Wise words.
Is Kayaking Dangerous?
Five years ago when I kayaked on Elkhorn Creek in Kentucky I ended up ejected from my boat along with my iPhone, electronic car keys, driver’s license, credit cards, the passwords to all my accounts, and a hundred dollars cash. It was a costly capsize.
At least the day was warm and I landed in the middle of the stream, well away from the submerged log my boat hit. That helped me float away and not get sucked under it and trapped.
“They call those strainers,” my friend said. I had never heard of a strainer, but I knew I didn’t want to be strained.
The next time we kayaked I felt anxious. I did not want to dump again. As we rounded one bend I saw a menacing stump at the edge of the water.
“Oh no! Look at that stump! I’m going to make sure I miss it,” I yelled to my friend as I began to paddle.
That’s when she gave me the same advice.
“Don’t look at the stump. Your boat goes toward what you look at. Look ahead. Look in the direction you want to go.”
“Isn’t that great life advice?” I said later to another friend. “That applies to so many things. Focus in the direction you want to go. Don’t look at what you want to avoid, or at things that worry you.”
“It’s the same in horseback riding,” she said. “When you jump a fence you’re not supposed to look at the fence. That will steer the horse into the fence. You are always supposed to look on the other side of the fence, toward where you want to land. That helps your horse go up and over.”
Positive Goals in Health
How about you? When you want to make an improvement in your nutrition do you focus on the things you’re going to not eat, or the things you will? Are you more likely to “give up sweets,” or eat a dark green veggie every day? Check out this video in which I share exciting health benefits of dark green leafy vegetables https://deborahrankinrd.com/dark-green-veggie/
Do you vow to “cut out white flour,” or start each day by drinking eight ounces of cold water? Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women, independent of other factors like diet and physical activity. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18787524/
When you jump into the pool to swim, do you worry about how you look in a bathing suit, or celebrate your health and vigor and how good the water’s going to feel?
Focus. It amazed me that something small like turning my head in the direction I wanted to go would change my boat’s trajectory, but it did. On that particular day, I floated around the stump into a clear path downstream.
Mountain biking, kayaking, horseback riding–they’re metaphors for life. For health goals that work, always look in the direction you want to go.
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