Have you ever dealt with saying something like, “Ok, tomorrow I am going to start eating healthier” or “Next week I’m going to go to the gym and start getting in shape” and a month later… nothing has changed?
Setting a SMART goal is a very effective way to not only say you’re going to start making a healthy lifestyle change but to be very specific and intentional about it. A SMART goal is one that it is:
Who? What? Where? And Why?
How will I know when my goal has been reached?
What are the steps I must take to reach my goal?
Why do I want to reach this goal and is it relevant to me?
When will I start/finish my goal?
It is important to keep the following tips in mind once you start planning for your healthy lifestyle changes:
- This is a process that cannot be rushed – lasting changes (meaning lifestyle changes that will continue for months and years to come) happen over time, not overnight. When setting a goal, you want to reach it and stick with it. To prevent starting and stopping or reaching a goal and going back to old habits, consider what is necessary to make that accomplished goal something that can be sustained.
- We are talking about baby steps here – Think about all the little changes that you must make to reach your ultimate goal. For example, if your goal at the end of six months is to have lost 10 pounds, think about each baby step (or small change) that is necessary to get there, as opposed to searching for a “quick fix”. Perhaps these baby steps could include waking up 30 minutes earlier each day to fit in your physical activity, packing your healthy lunch and snacks the night before, walking 10 or 15 minutes a day until you can work up to walking a mile or replacing one sugary beverage a day with fruit-infused water.
- Celebrate your accomplishments along the way – No one does everything perfectly all the time, but each small accomplishment still deserves praise. For example, if you refrained from stopping at the convenience store for a candy bar and ate the fresh fruit that you had on hand, that deserves to be celebrated. Or if you remembered to take the stairs instead of hopping on the elevator, congratulate yourself for developing those healthy habits.
When I create a new SMART goal, I like to add a section for challenges that I might face, as well as my plan to combat them, so that I can remain successful. See an example below of one of my recent SMART goals!
|SMART Goal: To exercise every day|
|Specific||I will be active every day of the week: At the gym either before or after work and in the morning on Saturday and Sunday.|
|Measurable||I will be physically active for 1 hour, 4 days a week and for 1.5 hours, 3 days a week (when I participate in a group class at the gym).|
|Attainable||To reach this goal I must
1. Plan my activity time at the start of each day
2. Maintain my gym membership
3. Pack my gym clothes each night and have my gym bag in the car each day
4. Complete my activity time in the morning on the weekend before I take on other tasks
|Relevant||I will continue to be active every day to stay in shape and improve my flexibility. This is relevant to me because I don’t want to become sedentary again and I like having energy throughout the day!|
|Timely||This will continue for life! In one month I will start a new weekly workout plan and will choose a new group class to try.|
|Challenges I May Encounter||1. Cold weather – Use the treadmill at home, do yoga in the living room using Youtube videos, use my resistance band to do my exercises.
2. A busy day – Take extra flights of stairs during the day at work, take a 10-minute walk after lunch and stop to take 2-minute movement/stretch breaks during the day.
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