Community Wellness: Need to get back on track? It's time for a U-turn

Community Wellness: Need to get back on track? It's time for a U-turn


Last month, after writing about SMART goals, I was challenged by a friend to take my own advice and set some of my own goals.

I hadn't planned on making any New Year's resolutions for 2018; things seemed to be going all right. But let me tell you, I sure am glad to have been given a dose of my own medicine!

While I won't be sharing the intimate details of my New Year's resolutions, I will at least say that they are like many others' — having something to do with health, exercise and paying more attention to what I eat.

I won't claim to been perfect — no one is — but so far. I've learned that SMART goals really do help and that it's really all about the effort.

If you stack enough small efforts one on top of another, soon. those small efforts account for something much larger. The progress, while sometimes slow, is just enough to keep me headed in the right direction.

So here I sit, staring the month of February dead in the face with my own SMART goals hanging on the refrigerator door for all to see.

Before challenging myself to practice what I preach, most likely they would have been folded and neatly tucked into the back corner of my bedside table.

But it feels pretty darn good having them out there. I see those goals every morning and know I'll be coming home to them again in the evening. For me, this makes a difference.

As I make choices throughout the day, I am more mindful and aware. I am making more choices that will make me feel good when I have to face those goals at the end of the day.

I'm definitely not perfect, not even close, but I am making an effort, and it's been enough to at the least keep me in the game. I hope you're still in the game too!

Last week, while having a particularly rough day, I was reminded of a trick I picked up while working as a camp counselor at a summer weight-loss camp for kids.

Near the end of summer, when the kids were feeling good with all they had accomplished and starting to prepare for their return home, we started to help them build resiliency skills to stay on track.

One of those skills was recognizing when they needed to make a "U-turn."

A U-turn can happen any time you feel yourself straying off target. My U-turn is a cold glass of water, but yours could be anything that resets and refocuses you back on your goal.

It could be a five-minute stroll outside, a mini dance party that gets you up from your desk or a healthy afternoon snack after a not-so-great breakfast or lunch.

Whatever it is, just remember that it doesn't matter how many times a day you have to do a U-turn.

The important part is that you make the turn and keep moving toward the goal.

Keep it up; you got this!

Caitlin Kownacki is an educator for University of Illinois Extension serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties. Contact her at 217-353-0740 or

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