Losing weight is one of the top New Year’s resolutions. And why not? It’s a new year, a time to make big changes. However, most people make the mistake of creating a long list of big changes they want to make, and by February this list is abandoned. Why? Because the list is too long, overwhelming, and not specific. If losing weight or just getting healthy is the goal, it’s important to come up with a game plan with specific, achievable “mini goals” to get started on the right path. Asking questions like “what can I do right now to achieve that goal?” and “how do I see myself achieving my goal?” are important in order to focus on single habits to change.
I work with my clients to come up with SMART goals. These goals are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-limited. Let’s say the long term goal is to get healthy, but what does that actually mean? How would you measure that your health has improved? Perhaps getting healthy means eating more of a balanced diet, or maybe you have a lab value that needs improvement, like blood glucose or cholesterol. Identifying a specific measure will help fine tune your desired behavior changes. Only then can we set specific and actionable goals.
I had a client with a long term goal to reduce cholesterol. Based on this client’s diet history, they ate a lot of processed foods, red meat, and did not exercise. The client was ready to make a diet overhaul and start improving what they ate. This client decided to add more fiber into their diet. The SMART goal was “For 1 week, I will choose 1 meal per day to have at least 1 fiber-rich food.” This goal is specific (adding fiber-rich food), Measurable (at least 1 food for 1 meal per day), Actionable (they were provided a list of fiber-rich foods to choose from), Relevant (adding fiber is shown to help reduce cholesterol), and Time-limited (lasted for 1 week). After this week we agreed to reassess and move forward.
Setting SMART goals help clients feel empowered, confident, and help guide them to reaching their long term goals.
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