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Set SMART Goals for a Healthy New Year

Posted by Marilyn Csernus -

As the New Year gets underway many of us will be evaluating our lifestyle and contemplating New Year's Resolutions. Often, these resolutions revolve around health issues, whether setting weight loss goals, starting a smoking cessation program, reducing alcohol intake or becoming more physically active. Setting goals for the New Year is much easier than reaching these goals. Most of us can relate to having fallen short of reaching New Year's resolutions from years past.

A goal is defined as an end toward which effort is directed. If you're making New Year's resolutions, a good first step is making your goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound (or SMART). Since weight loss is a common goal for many as the New Year begins it is used as an example in setting a SMART weight loss goal.

S = SPECIFIC – Goals need to be specific, rather than broad or vague. For example, listing or stating weight loss as a goal is not a specific goal. A specific weight loss goal would be stating or listing a specific weight loss such as a desire to lose two pounds per week over the next three months.

M = MEASURABLE- How do we know if we achieved our goals if they are not measurable? Again, a broad goal of losing weight with no specific amount or time frame is difficult to measure. Alternately, a goal of losing two pounds per week over the next three months is easy to measure. Being able to measure progress builds confidence and may help staying motivated long after the flurry and excitement of the New Year has subsided.

A= ATTAINABLE - Chances are, we will have difficulty attaining goals that are set with lofty expectations. A weight loss goal of losing five pounds per week is not attainable under normal circumstances and will likely result in a feeling of failure and frustration when not attained. A weight loss of two pounds per week over a three month period can be attainable for most individuals of good health and activity tolerance.

R= REALISTIC - Goals must be realistic! A weight loss goal of losing ten pounds by the upcoming weekend in order to fit into a certain outfit is totally unrealistic. Setting unrealistic goals is a way of sabotaging ourselves. Setting a goal of losing two pounds per week over a three month period is a realistic goal to work towards.

T = TIME-BOUND – If goals are not set within the context of a time frame they may fall by the way side when the demands of everyday life get in the way. Having a set time frame to reach a goal such as losing two pounds per week helps keep us on track and accountable for our actions. This is a target date for reaching the goal. An open ended time frame for meeting a goal is often put off until "tomorrow."

The SMART strategy will work with any goal you set,so take time to evaluate your present lifestyle and choose one health related habit that needs changing. This change needs to be a personal priority rather than someone else's priority for you.

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