When you want to make a change in your life, setting a goal is usually the first step–and how you construct your goal can be the difference between success and failure. Well-constructed health goals are the cornerstone to keeping your resolutions. When you set a goal–whether it’s to lose weight, finish a 5K, or simply live a healthier lifestyle–start by breaking it down into sub-goals. Then frame each of these sub-goals in SMART terms. SMART health goals are:
Let’s say, for example, you’re looking to improve your health by losing weight. A big part of that would probably be finding ways to improve your eating habits. That’s your first sub-goal. Now you need to create an action plan. Here are a few examples of SMART health goals to start you off:
1) Monday through Thursday I will have one cup of oatmeal with ½ cup of fruit and coffee at home instead of my usual sticky bun and Grande Mocha at Starbucks.
2) I will pause when I feel 80 percent full or finish my plate of food and then wait 15 minutes before deciding to get more food. In the meantime, I’ll move on to other activities. If I still feel hungry, I will strive to make my second helping vegetables and not dessert.
3) When I find myself struggling to combat sugar cravings at night, I will instead drink a cup of tea, brush my teeth, or take a MealEnder to keep my mouth and mind busy, and bridge that “temptation zone.”
4) The first item on my dinner plate will be vegetables, and I’ll make sure they cover 50 percent of my plate.
5) I will do a search for easy meal prep ideas to save in a folder, including some low calorie lunch options to bring with me to work. After breakfast every Sunday, I’ll plan out my meals for the week, make a grocery list, and go shopping after lunch.
You may also feel that you need to exercise more to meet your health goals. If so, you can consider some of these specific exercise goals or build your own based on them.
1) I will walk 10,000 steps five days a week, and 5,000 steps one day a week.
2) I’ll buy a second pair of walking shoes to keep at work and walk for 30 minutes during my lunch hour four days a week.
3) I’ll sign up for the Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9:00 am yoga class
4) On either Saturday or Sunday, our family will do an activity together, such as hiking, biking or kayaking. On Wednesday evening, we will select the activity for the following weekend.
5) Beginning next weekend, I’ll take a weekly Saturday afternoon salsa class with my friend.
Notice that each of these goals fit the criteria for SMART health goals. They are Specific, measurable, realistic, attainable, and time-bound. You cannot control exactly how and when your body loses weight, but you can control the behavioral steps that you take to achieve that end if you take the time to properly construct the specific, smaller steps that will lead you to your ultimate objective. Having those SMART goals to guide you will make it far easier for you to stick to your health goals and achieve your resolutions!
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