For most people the start of a new year is a time for resolutions and goal setting, many of which deal with their health. Gyms burst at the seams as people eager to get healthier, fitter, or leaner join the regulars in the hopes of meeting their goals, or at least keeping their resolutions a little longer.
Unfortunately, by February or March the appeal of a healthier lifestyle gives way to long-engrained habits that aren’t quite so easy to overcome. And we slide back into our comfortable routines, not much healthier than we were before. Perhaps if we take a good look at our resolutions and aspirations we can be more successful at staying on track and achieving those goals.
The SMART acronym is a good method to use when developing goals and resolutions. A SMART health goal should be:
- Specific – If a goal is specific it will be easier to identify when you’ve met that goal. Instead of wanting to lose a little weight you could set a goal of losing 10 lb. Rather than “eat healthier” it could be “eat five servings of fruit and vegetables each day”.
- Measurable – How will you measure the goal? If weight loss is a goal you could keep track of your beginning weight and then measure your weight weekly, recording it in a journal or an app like My Fitness Pal. A food journal or check sheet could be used to keep track of the fruits and vegetables you eat.
- Attainable – Are you able to meet this goal? How hard are you willing to work to meet success here? What obstacles can you foresee that might make it more challenging to meet your goal or goals? An obstacle doesn’t mean that it’s unattainable, but just a bump in the road that might detour you for a while but ultimately you’ll make your goal. Anticipate the possible obstacles and have a plan in place to deal with them.
- Realistic – A goal needs to be realistic in order for you to attain it. Losing 10 lb. in 2 months is realistic. Losing 100 lb. in 2 months is not. If you don’t like fruit or vegetables you may have difficulty reaching your goal of five servings per day. A smaller goal would be more realistic, and therefore more attainable.
- Time-sensitive – Ask yourself how long you will take to meet your goal. Is it 10 lb. in 2 months or 4 months? Or maybe you want to increase your fruit and vegetable intake to five servings per day by six months.
New Year’s resolutions and goals are fine. It’s important to evaluate where we’re at with our health and what we can do to achieve a healthier lifestyle and healthier body. But it’s equally important to be sure we’re making goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. If we do, we’ll be more successful at attaining those goals.
Have you set health goals for the New Year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.