Three reasons you haven’t reached your health goals

Disappointed Woman with Weight Goals

I love serendipity! As I was sitting to write this week’s love note to you, a study landed in my inbox showing that 68% of respondents to a survey done in January of this year indicated that they would be focusing on their health and well-being in 2014. If you were asked the same question in January, would you have answered the same way? Well, 2014 is half over. How are things going for you?

If you’re on track, I’m sending you the biggest virtual hug and cheering madly. If you’re not, I’m still sending you the biggest virtual hug, and stepping in as your cheer leader.

First of all, please stop beating yourself up if that’s your current style. Change can be difficult. In fact, research in the Journal of Psychology shows that only 8 percent of January resolution-makers achieve their goals. Does that mean that goal-setting is a waste of precious energy? On the contrary, studies show that people who “explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” In other words, it’s hard to reach a goal unless you set one. (So keep setting those goals!)

But why is success so difficult? There are lots of really individual, personal factors that can impact our progress, but I’ve found three common themes among the thousands of women I have had the privilege to work with over the years.

1. It looks like apathy, but really – it’s exhaustion. Learning new skills – including what foods and nutrients are essential for you personally – takes effort. Moving your body takes effort. Getting up off the couch to get to bed on time, ironically, takes effort. (Have you ever missed that *sweet spot* when you should have made your way to the bedroom, and then the very thought of getting ready for bed keeps you glued to the couch?) Of course, if you would eat more nutritious food, move your body more and hit the sheets in time to get your beauty rest, you’d have more energy. Sometimes even the thought of getting started can be exhausting.

2. It looks like exhaustion – but really, it could be a form of mild depression. Now don’t freak out and go into immediate denial because I used that word! I’m not making a medical diagnosis here; I’m simply making the observation that when you are so exhausted from the pressures of your life, you may start to question why you should bother to do anything differently. You look for ways to feel happiness – and it might involve an excursion into a tub of ice-cream or a bottle of vino. The joy is short-lived, as you know, and there are consequences. And, I’m sure you’re aware that all that sugar (in the ice cream and the wine) exacerbates the fatigue that could be a factor keeping your spirits low. Then the cycle of self-recrimination begins, with you mentally beating yourself up because you gave in to temptation, yet again. And the cycle continues.

I know this one well. As a self-employed single mom, I’ve had some extended periods of stress that have had me fighting to keep my spirits up – and, frankly, am very grateful for those children of mine who continue to keep me focused on moving forward rather than going down the rabbit hole. I’ve learned to recognize the signs in myself, and know how to shift gears. If you feel stuck in a low place, there are ways to kick-start higher energies.

(If you have thoughts of suicide or concerns about the safety of those around you, please seek competent medical care.)

3. You have some limiting beliefs.

This one can be tied to a low mood, but doesn’t have to be. We all have beliefs about worthiness and abilities and so on that impact our experience of the world. And believing that you aren’t capable of change guarantees that you aren’t. I love Henry Ford’s genius statement that “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

I also know from personal experience, however, that you can’t new-age think yourself out of your situation. Have you ever worked with a ‘guru,’ or attended a lecture, and had a huge a-ha… and it jazzed you up for a day or two – and then the energy depleted and you were back to your previous self? That’s because while thoughts are crucial, *action* is also essential for success. You have to walk the talk. Make it a habit. Practice it. Which gets us back to #1. How do you do anything differently when you’re exhausted? Not the circle of life, necessarily – but definitely circular.

Next week we’ll dive a little deeper into some of those limiting beliefs, but for now I want you to know that if any of these three themes resonate with you and where you are now with your health goals for 2014 and beyond, I get it. I also promise you that there are ways to start feeling better gradually that don’t involve putting out a ton of energy that you may not have right now.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time, I wish you vibrant health and a beautiful day!

PS. Whether you want to recharge your energy, stop the mood swings, or fit into your skinny jeans, I’d love to help you reach your goals this year. Head over here for ways we can work together.


Lisa Petty, PhD

Lisa Petty, PhD, is a midlife mentor and well-being strategist who helps women release the pressure to be everything to everyone so they can take care of their own well-being—without guilt. Dr. Petty helps women move through midlife uncertainty to emerge re-energized, with a redefined sense of who they are and what they want.