8 Non-Weight Loss Goals to Consider

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Weight loss is a very common goal in the wellness space. But often focusing too much on the scale can be detrimental to your mental health, causing you to miss key aspects of overall wellness. Instead of zoning in on a number, shift your focus to create goals centered around wellness and behavior change.

Wellness goals should focus on bettering your mind, body, and spirit. Through small behavior changes, you can feel big benefits. After all, successful and sustainable health is achieved through a variety of health-promoting behaviors.

It's not easy to make changes, though. You've been living a certain way for many years, and your go-to tools are ones you probably picked up along the way. They may have worked for you before, but sometimes shifts are needed for positive change.


Now that you're on board with making wellness goals, it's time to determine what you'd like to work on. Since new habits take an estimated 66 days to form, you'll want to give yourself plenty of time and tools to help you be successful.

To help you set your goals, use the SMART criteria—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed. Instead of, "I'm going to sleep more," try, "I will go to bed 30 minutes earlier 5 days a week for the next 4 weeks." The clearer your goals are, the more likely you'll be to attain them.

Talking with your healthcare provider, coach, personal trainer, or a registered dietitian can help you set appropriate goals and set action plans to see them through. Consider adding these eight wellness goals to your routine.

Set Non-Exercise Activity Goals

Moving more doesn't have to be done through formal exercise. In fact, any activity or movement that does not involve sport or exercise is considered non-exercise activity.

Doing more things for yourself physically is not only good for the mind, but it's also a hefty contributor to your physical health. This is called NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Not only can NEAT help you maintain a healthy level of physical fitness, but simple tasks like cleaning up and decluttering can improve your quality of life and reduce stress.

Non-Exercise Activity Goals

  • Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator
  • Wash your car once a week by hand
  • Walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing or calling them
  • Stand more. Consider a standing desk or simply standing during activities you would normally do sitting down.
  • Walk or cycle for transportation
  • Play with your kids
  • Do some yard work or clean the house
  • Do an active family outing once per week or as often as possible like hiking, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, or creating an obstacle course.

Prioritize Sleep

No one likes to be sleep deprived. Not only does lack of sleep make you feel foggy and tired throughout the day, but it's also a major contributor to stress, reduced quality of life, emotional distress, pain, weight gain, mood disorders, and other chronic health problems.

Making a commitment to work on your sleep hygiene is no easy feat. Let's face it, sometimes the reasons you don't get enough sleep are out of your control. But if you do think it's doable, or feel like you have some wiggle room, prioritizing sleep is so worth it.

The benefits of improving sleep include:

  • Hormone regulation
  • Metabolic regulation
  • Improved mood and cognitive function
  • Immune system health

To prioritize sleep, first set a goal, then define how you're going to make it happen. For example, "I will turn off screens an hour before bed and go to bed 30 minutes earlier 5 days per week." The next step is to follow through with your goal.

Schedule Media Timeouts

Don't you just love when your phone or tablet tells you how many hours and minutes you've spent with screen time today? Devices can be all-consuming, and many of our screen times reflect that.

While there are some benefits to social media, the cons can cause some major stress and anxiety. Taking a break to relax the mind and reset is not only a good idea but it's also been shown to improve well-being and help you sleep better.

It doesn't have to be a long break from social media for it to be effective. Even a one-week hiatus has shown to lead to significant improvements in well-being, depression, and anxiety.

Give yourself permission to take a much-needed break, so you can come back ready to enjoy the good side of staying social online.

Nurture a Creative Outlet

With the number of things that need to get accomplished in one day, it's easy to see why finding time for hobbies feels impossible. So if you can't find the time, make the time.

Scientists report having hobbies that you enjoy, like painting, creating, and crafting, can help you live longer.

Nurturing a creative outlet is also good for your mental health, especially in a group setting. A 2015 study found that those who participated in leisure activities had better mental health than those who only participated in social activities. If you combined the two—leisure activities in a group setting or with a friend—mental health was also improved.

Whether you have someone to craft with or not, making time for nurturing a creative outlet is a powerful tool for nourishing your well-being.

Practice Mindfulness

Everyone has been in a season of life that just feels like they're going through the motions. It's easy to become overwhelmed and zone out during daily tasks. Being purposeful and mindful throughout your day has a way of lifting the chaos and grounding you.

Researchers have found that the effects of mindfulness go beyond having intention, but also benefit your psychological health.

One way to stay present is to intentionally focus on what you're doing. Notice what your arms are doing, and how you're breathing, straighten your upper body, put your shoulders back, or sit comfortably. Concentrate and work towards releasing tension. Remain open and be patient. Your job is to be a witness to your own actions and experiences.

Support a Cause or Volunteer

Finding meaning in life can have profound effects on your wellness. Whether you have a specific cause that is close to your heart, or you enjoy volunteering to help others, scientists have found that doing so is an effective tool for improving health and quality of life.

It doesn't have to be a huge commitment—every little bit helps. Start by honing in on ways you would enjoy giving back. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Most 5ks support a cause, so sign up and get moving
  • Volunteer at your local food bank or animal shelter
  • Assist your child's class or school
  • Donate books
  • Host a simple fundraiser like a car wash, bake sale, lemonade stand, or raffle and give the proceeds to a cause

Foster Social Connections

Making friends is hard. There's no question about it. Making friends as an adult can often be even harder. Fostering social connections is more than just someone to hang with—social health contributes to your overall health! Spending time with people you enjoy can improve your mood and your general wellness.

Research has shown that social relationships, both short-term and long-term, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, impaired immune function, and depressive symptoms. Plus, the effects of loneliness and social isolation can be damaging. Researchers have even compared it to obesity, smoking, drinking alcohol, and lack of exercise.

Clinicians and researchers suggest making an effort to socialize with family, friends, and others as often as possible—daily or weekly. Once per week is a great place to start and might be more manageable with busy schedules.

Here are some ways to find like-minded people in your area:

  • Join a group or club
  • Try a fitness class
  • Volunteer
  • Join a social circle
  • Look for community events in your area

Get Outside More

The sunshine and cool breeze on your face can do more for you than a great tan. In fact, just looking out the window has mood-boosting benefits.

Getting outside more has restorative properties and benefits for mental health. Living and working near green spaces is associated with lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Even if you live in the city, you'll still benefit from spending time outdoors.

Start with setting a realistic goal—it could be something small. Try committing to spending 10 minutes outside during your lunch break five days per week, or going for a walk after dinner three nights per week.

Other ways to enjoy the great outdoors include:

  • Go for a hike or bike ride
  • Sit under a tree and read a book
  • Take a 10-minute break outside
  • Try stargazing or cloud watching
  • Walk or bike to work
  • Park further from your destination
  • Feed the ducks
  • Go fishing

A Word From Verywell

Working on improving your health is a marathon, not a sprint. While stepping on the scale is probably the most common way to measure progress, it's not always the best. Setting and achieving non-weight-loss wellness goals can have a profound effect on your health and well-being.

Change doesn't happen overnight. Talking to a healthcare professional, counselor, or registered dietitian can help you with setting realistic goals that will work for you and your lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you set attainable goals?

    The best way to set an attainable goal is to use the SMART method. The goal must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. If you cannot commit to a goal, it's not going to work for you.

  • Why should you set non-weight loss goals?

    Setting goals that have nothing to do with the number on the scale is important for mental health and well-being. Focusing on losing weight can cause you to lose sight of the big picture regarding overall wellness.

  • What should be included in a wellness plan?

    When creating a wellness plan for yourself consider your current physical wellness, lifestyle, work schedule, diet, and home life situation. Your wellness plan should focus on nutrition, sleep, social opportunities, hobbies, physical activity, non-exercise movement, getting outdoors, and your personal and mental wellness.

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By Shoshana Pritzker RD, CDN, CSSD, CISSN
Shoshana Pritzker RD, CDN is a sports and pediatric dietitian, the owner of Nutrition by Shoshana, and is the author of "Carb Cycling for Weight Loss." Shoshana received her B.S in dietetics and nutrition from Florida International University. She's been writing and creating content in the health, nutrition, and fitness space for over 15 years and is regularly featured in Oxygen Magazine, JennyCraig.com, and more.