Spring into Health
As spring approaches, it is a good time to look at your health habits and see what changes you can make for a healthier you. Even if you are ready to make changes in your health, it can be hard. You can feel pressure to make big changes fast and then have a hard time sticking to your goals. Changing your eating or physical activity habits takes time. It is easier to achieve your health goals if you aim for small, realistic changes that you can do every day.
Now that you have chosen to make a change, how do you choose your goals?
This first step of choosing your goals can be intimidating. A good tip to choosing health goals is to choose SMART goals, meaning: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
How do you choose SMART goals?
The steps below can help you choose a SMART goal, for example to lose weight:
- Specific: Be specific. What exactly are you going to do? If you want to lose weight you can try walking or biking to work instead of taking the train. Keep in mind any challenges that would stop you from reaching you goal, like allowing for extra travel time so you are not late.
- Measurable: Make your goal measurable. How are you going to know if the goal you set is working? Weighing yourself at the beginning and the end of the week is an example of how you can have a measurable goal. If your goal is measurable, you can track how well you are doing or if you need to make any changes to reach your goals.
- Attainable: Can you actually reach this goal? For example, losing weight is a large goal. Make it easier to reach it by aiming to lose one pound each week. Losing one pound each week is a goal you can actually reach instead of something like committing to go to the gym every day to lose 50 pounds.
- Realistic: Break the goal down. Start small. What is the first step to making your goal a reality? Losing weight requires eating fewer calories and burning more calories through physical activity. However, it is not realistic to say that you will work out every day and start a crash diet. You can start with one small change you can make first like taking the stairs or cutting out sugary drinks. You are more likely to make these small changes than taking on much larger changes to reach your goal.
- Timely: Set a time limit. By when would you like to reach your goal? Do not make the time limit too long or you will lose track of your goal. For example, if you are adding an exercise-related activity to your day to lose weight, have a goal of losing one pound each week. Your goal is timely since you are checking your progress every week.
Now that you have set a SMART goal, MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Follow through and measure your success. Family and friends can also help you reach your goals. Talk to your loved ones about the changes you are hoping to make. It can be helpful to have someone in your corner to support you when you are struggling and share in your success when you hit your milestones. And remember, nobody is perfect. If you are having trouble meeting your goals, do not beat yourself up. The important thing is you are trying to make a positive change in your health.
Jakicic, J. M., Clark, K., Coleman, E., Donnelly, J. E., Foreyt, J., Melanson, E., . . . Volpe, S. L. (2001). Appropriate intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 33(12), 2145-2156. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200112000-00026