Announcing the BlogHer 2008 Good Health-a-thon!

BlogHer Original Post

Week 1 Update (aka "BALLS OF DEATH") can be found here.

It's only January 2nd, and I'm already tired of ad campaigns flashing scales and measuring tapes at me, reminding me that NOW! is the time to join the gym/lose inches/spend a fortune on pre-packaged food diets. I can't hear the words "new year" without some company also trying to convince me that I need to "Lose Weight!" so I can finally "feel better about myself!" Forgive me if I'm skeptical.

The truth is, it's 2008 and it's time for a whole new approach. No more meaningless resolutions, no more unrealistic expectations. No more buying into the notion that "feeling better" is inextricably linked to my weight and nothing else. My life, and my health, is bigger than that.

It's not about losing weight to feel better; it's about feeling better, period.

Which is why I'm very, very happy to be introducing BlogHer's 2008 Good Health-a-thon. It's simple. It's fun. It's personal. And I'll hope you'll join me in making it a success.

(The best part? No scales required!)


There are lots of things that each of us could do to improve our health. But with so many options and opportunities, sometimes I simply feel overwhelmed.

Example A: Eating Healthy

"Okay, so...I'm supposed to be lowering my salt and eating only lean proteins, got it. And saturated fat is the enemy. And so is dairy. And so are carbs. And what was that about wheat? Oh, not wheat, just gluten? So no gluten, carbs, dairy, fat or salt. And organic? Organic is better for me? So I should order only free-range, organic, non-gluten, non-salt, non-dairy, fat-free items? But then...huh? How is it possible that fruit can be bad for me, I thought... What? Glycemic index? No, I don't know -- HEY, CAN I HAVE THIS GRAPE OR NOT?"

And then, frustrated and fed up, I order a cheeseburger.

My problem -- and perhaps yours, if the above example sounds familiar -- is that I try and do it all at once, taking an all-or-nothing approach. If I can't do everything right, I feel I may as well not bother at all. Which gets me nowhere.

Help me, Good Health-a-thon!

BlogHer's Good Health-a-thon is all about what we can do, little by little, day by day, week by week and month by month to live healthier. It's not a matter of saying "I'm going to go to the gym more this year" and then reviewing your progress in January of 2009, only to discover you haven't actually used your gym card since mid-February.

Instead, the point of the Good Health-a-thon is to have each of us set simple, attainable, health-related goals for ourselves throughout the year. Our goals can be anything we want, but with the idea of broadening our definition of "health" well beyond calorie counting.

How It Works

Each day, week, month (or whatever time frame works best for you), set a goal for yourself and blog it. You can let others know you're planning to participate by commenting below and linking to your posts. Then, you can help your fellow BlogHers by visiting their blogs to offer support and suggestions.

That's all there is to it!

Well, sort of. Because before we kick-off the 'thon, it would probably make sense to talk about the kind of goal-setting that really works, and then open the floor to suggestions from you about ways we can make healthy choices this year. (Or you can scroll down or click here to go right to some healthy ideas!)

Goal Setting & The Good Health-a-thon

There's a trick I learned a long time ago about setting "SMART" goals; that is, goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. So what does that mean for the Good Health-a-thon?

1. Goals are (S)pecific
"I'm going to eat better this year," or "I'm going to work out more" are prime examples of vague, and therefore hard to attain, goals. I know that for me, I need to really drill down if I'm going to be successful and accountable.

General example: I want to be more physically fit this year.
Specific example: I want to be able to do 45 minutes at level 4 on the elliptical machine by May of 2008.

2. Goals are (M)easurable
Don't let this fool you -- it doesn't mean you have to assign weight or pounds to your goals. It simply means you need to be able to identify when you've reached your goals. Maybe your goal is to have better oral hygiene in the year 2008 (hey, why not?). Another good-but-vague goal. So consider breaking it into smaller increments that you can actually measure.

General example: I want to floss more regularly.
Measurable example: I am going to floss six times this week.

3. Goals are (A)ttainable
This is a big one. Sometimes we set goals that seem do-able, but only in the long-term. "I want to run a half-marathon in October of 2008" is specific and measurable, but not necessarily attainable without proper planning. How do you get from here to there? And what do you do in the meantime? Setting smaller, more manageable goals that are attainable in the near-term help keep you motivated and feeling on-track. Consider where you are now, and what is achievable in the next six months, three months, one month, and next week.

Long-term example: I want to lower my blood pressure into the "healthy" range for my age.
Attainable example: I will increase the fruits and vegetables I consume by adding a veggie to my lunch and dinner every meal in January. I will also cut back on caffeine by limiting my intake to one cup of coffee a day.

4. Goals are (R)ealistic
Along with "Attainable," goals need to be realistic. I could be ambitious, for example, and say "I am going to go to they gym five days a week in January!" And that goal would be specific and measurable, even attainable. But given my current habits, it's just not realistic. And then once I failed to follow-through, I'd feel defeated.

Setting "Realistic" goals means finding something beyond what you're doing now, but not so far outside the realm of likelihood that you're setting yourself up for failure. Not "easy," but not TOO hard, either. Remember, once you've reached your first goal, you'll be in a great position to set your next one!

Unrealistic example: I'm going to do 100 push-ups every morning!
Realistic example: I'm going to do five push-ups every morning this week. Next week, I am going to do six. The week after that, I am going to do seven.

5. Goals are (T)imely
This has two meanings. One, make sure you have a date by which you anticipate meeting your goal. It can be in two days or two months or two years, but setting a time goes hand-in-hand with ensuring your goal is measurable. You need to know both "how much" (e.g., "I will get a mammogram") and "by when" (e.g., "in the next three months"). Two, your goal should be time-sensitive, dependent on what you want to achieve. "I will get a mammogram" is far less goal-worthy if your timeframe is "sometime in the next three years."

Untimely example: I will get a mammogram in the next three years.
Timely example: I will get a mammogram by May, 2008.

Feeling Great in '08: Ideas for Good Health-a-thon Goals

While diet, nutrition and exercise are certainly important aspects to maintaining good health, there are plenty of things we can do every day to improve our overall health that don't involve stepping on a scale or measuring our BMIs. Below are just some ideas you can work into your Good-Health Goal-Setting extravaganza, but we'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas too!

Drink more water. Schedule a check-up. Visit the dentist. Get a mammogram. Get a pap. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eat fewer processed foods. Floss. Wear sunscreen. Make a work-out schedule. Throw out your scale. Learn to meditate. Meet with a personal trainer. Leave more on your plate. Take a cooking class. Take yoga. Stretch. Do an ergonomic assessment of your workstation. Get your vision checked. Schedule a skin-cancer screening. Work your core. Drink green tea. Detox. Eat local produce. Practice safe sex. Eat dark chocolate. Get a massage. Learn a new dance. Smile more.

So, what are YOU doing this year to make '08 a feel-great year? Share your thoughts, and help us kick-off the BlogHer 2008 Good Health-a-thon!


Week 1 Update (aka "BALLS OF DEATH") can be found here. Now with drawings such as these:


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.