As I mentioned before, my husband's job has an employee wellness program. Over the past year he has participated in a few different programs, keeping track of his progress and reporting regularly. All of this will add up to us being able to continue paying less for our health benefits, so it would be worth participating in even if the goals weren't helpful, which they have been (all except the weight loss one).
The one I wanted to talk about, though, ended last month and its purpose was to help employees eat more fruits and vegetables per day. We generally have quite a variety of fruits and vegetables at home, particularly when I can regularly get a Bountiful Basket each week (which lately hasn't been happening, thanks to the ridiculously high demand in my town and the ridiculously low availability). But my husband had to consciously make an effort each day--even each meal--to get in the recommended number of cups of fruits and vegetables for his body size. The produce he needed was available, which made things easier for him than I'm sure it was for a lot of the employees, but he had to consciously choose them as snacks, or choose them over other foods at mealtimes. It was interesting for me to watch this process and I was proud of him for his effort and success.
As I've thought about it, I've realized that this process my husband went through is what we all have to do when we make goals for ourselves, whether health-related or not. Making the goal is the easy part, and writing it down isn't difficult either, but then we have to make the conscious decision--often daily--to reach for our goal in a specific, concrete way. As my three-year-old would sing, "Keep trying, don't give up" (from Yo Gabba Gabba). When the goal at last becomes habit, then things become easier for us. And when the change becomes normal to us (though, granted, there may always be some effort--some self-control--involved), then we can truly say we have made a lifestyle change. And that's what we all need to really progress, change, and improve, isn't it?