10 Tips to Help Others Get Back on Track with Therapy and Lifestyle Goals

By Susan Cuellar, BSN, RN, CDE, CHC

What advice would you give to someone who told you this: “I definitely fell off the wagon over the holidays. I was so busy, I did not have time to exercise, and I gained ten pounds. I am so discouraged.”

This is a common dilemma around the holidays! First, it’s important to reassure others that many of us lose progress toward meeting health goals over the holidays. Second, it’s important to let them know how they can regain their lost progress and get back on track. While there are many different approaches and every person is unique, here are some ideas to help get them motivated again.

  1. Encourage those to whom you are providing education and support to set small goals. It may be helpful to even put these goals in writing to increase accountability. Use the SMART goals technique to make the goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound.
  2. Remind them this is a lifestyle change and not a short-term fix.
  3. Make it fun. Encourage people to find an exercise or activity they really enjoy.
  4. Encourage them to have an accountability partner or group.
  5. Suggest tools and resources to support them, such as providing a list of trusted fitness apps or other tracking devices. Having data to track activity can be motivating for many people!
  6. Create a positive and supportive environment so others feel comfortable when they don’t meet all their goals.
  7. Suggest they create a rewards system for when they reach a particular goal. Rewards could be many things such as a healthy activity or nutrition class with friends, a new fitness apparel item or any type of reward that is meaningful to them. The reward should be a non-food item.
  8. Be flexible and able to help them make changes to their goals as needed.
  9. Remind them to stay in touch with their accountability partner or group on a regular basis. Checking in with them at least weekly may be helpful as they work to get back on track. You could suggest they send a daily email, recipe, fitness tip, motivational message or exercise idea as a way to keep connected to their group.
  10. When people have a success, celebrate that success with them, even the small wins! Praise and encouragement go a long way toward continuing to meet and set new goals.

Whichever way you choose to help, remind them the long-term goal is a lifestyle change, and there will be setbacks as well as progress along with way. Most importantly, encourage them to keep going and, hopefully, they will be rewarded by living a healthier lifestyle and improving their health!

Susan Cuellar works as a Clinical Nurse Educator at VMS BioMarketing. She joined the telephonic clinical support team in 2019.