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Words of Wellness-SMART Goal Setting - January 1, 2014

SMART Goal Setting

By: Kate Adams, Dietitian

It’s new year’s resolution season, which means the gym will be packed and many will promise to “eat healthy” in the year to come. How often have you made a resolution to eat better or lose weight? For most, the high hope of a new year’s resolution doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl. Make 2014 the year that it happens by setting SMART goals for yourself. 

SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Accountable, Realistic and Timely. You are far more likely to succeed if your goals have these qualities. Let’s say you have a goal to lose weight. How can you make that a SMART goal?

  • Simply having a goal of losing weight is too vague, how much do you want to lose and why do you want to do it? Make it specific.
  • Make it measurable. Whether it is in pounds, inches or how your clothes feel. Be sure to track your progress to keep yourself motivated. 
  • Keep a food journal to track your intake and physical activity, many find the accountability very beneficial. Also, find a friend to meet up for workouts; you wouldn’t want to ditch them at the gym would you?
  • Be sure your goal is realistic. Can you really devote an hour to exercise every day? Are you really never going to eat out? Goals should be challenging but not discouraging. 
  • Give your goal a time frame. Maybe you have a vacation or big event this summer you want the weight off by.

It may be beneficial to set small goals to help you keep your new year’s resolution. Focusing on the process instead of the outcome is the key; you must change your habits and behaviors to maintain your goal. Set goals related to both physical activity and food/nutrition. Examples include: “I will drink no more than 2 cans of regular soda each week” or “I will walk for 30 minutes before work three days per week.” Gradually build on your goals, walk 5 days per week or increase the time to 45 minutes. These small goals should be stepping stones to your long-term goal.

Don’t be afraid to change goals as you continue on your journey. Maybe they are no longer realistic because of a new job. Or perhaps you didn’t set the bar high enough and need a new goal to push you further. You should always be reassessing your goals. As always remember if any diet or magic pill sounds too good to be true, it likely is!

Happy New Year!