02/06/2013 12:30 am ET Updated Apr 07, 2013

Thirty Minutes for Better Health


I was never a big fan of New Year's resolutions. I applaud anyone who takes action to improve their life. But self-improvement is not driven by a date on a calendar. Instead, self-improvement is readily achieved when four things are present:

A realistic goal. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, it's not happening by the weekend. Or, if you've never boiled water successfully, then you're not likely to master the delicious art of cooking healthy grains in one evening.

A true intention to improve. This means you truly are ready to do what is necessary to change the landscape of your life. This is so different than simply saying you will improve some aspect of your life just because it is January 1.

A game plan for success. You have defined what is required to start the change process and maintain it, and you have determined what success looks like.

The right tools. If you plan to walk more, walking shoes would be helpful. If you desire to eat healthier foods, but you don't know what healthy foods are all about, then you'll need a coach to guide you. If you want to practice yoga, you'll need a mat.

Each of those four elements plays a key role in your ability to accomplish the self-improvement you are seeking. But it all starts with a realistic goal. If your goal is too big, too broad or too ambitious, you're setting yourself up to fall short.

Also, self-improvement isn't achieved with a "quick fix" or a sudden, dramatic change in behavior. It is attained through a series of small steps that are easy to implement and sustain. Start with the first positive step forward and continue from there, one small step at a time.

So, rather than start your self-improvement quest by trying to change everything in your life at once, pick just one thing that you'd like to improve, and give yourself 30 minutes every few days to work on that goal. Little by little. No deadlines. No pressure.

For example, if you want to cook healthier foods, give yourself 30 minutes every few days to shop for nutrient-rich foods and try new recipes that resonate with your taste buds.

If you want to have more physical activity, and you have been given approval by your doctor to do a particular exercise regimen every few days for 30 minutes, then start enjoying the new "movement" in your life.

If you want to practice meditation, then take 30 minutes every few days to calm yourself with that stillness and focus.

Perhaps you'd like to be more reflective about your life. Every few days take 30 minutes to write your thoughts down on paper, and enjoy the healing powers of journaling.

Always remember to be gentle with yourself and honor yourself. Life today has enough pressure in it already. Don't add to that by imposing overwhelming self-improvement goals on yourself. Just start by focusing on one realistic goal, and take 30 minutes every few days to apply yourself to achieving that goal.

If you follow this advice, self-improvement will be attainable, sustainable and enjoyable. And you can start your self-improvement journey any day of the year!

I'd love to hear from you about this subject. Contact me through my website at And remember, eat well, be well, and have a great day!

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