Goals propel us forward; they give us something to plan for and something to work towards. When it comes to weight management and fitness, realistic, well thought out goals can help to keep us focused and motivated and guide us as we make behavior changes and transition to a healthier lifestyle.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Setting goals this way helps to provide structure and accountability when it comes to achieving our objectives. When you set your own goal make sure that it meets the following criteria:
1. Specific: The more specific details you include in your goals the easier it will be to focus your efforts. Ask yourself the following questions- What exactly do I want to achieve?; Where?; How?; When?; With whom?.
2. Measurable: In order to determine if you have successfully achieved your goal you need to be able to measure it. If you define the physical manifestations of your goal it will be more clear and easier to reach.
3. Attainable: In order to successfully reach your goal it needs to be realistic and achievable. Ensure that you have the appropriate time and resources to do what you are setting out to do. For example, if your schedule doesn’t allow you to spend an hour at the gym every day it is not an attainable goal. Perhaps spending thirty minutes a day at the gym is more realistic or 1 hour 3x per week.
4. Relevant: Is the goal that you are setting actually relevant to you? Is it something that you truly WANT to achieve or is it something you feel you SHOULD do?
5. Timely: Setting a deadline can be an effective way to help you put your plans into action but make sure that your timeline is flexible and realistic. Unrealistic and overly aggressive deadlines can undermine your efforts.
Here are some examples of SMART goals to help get you started:
To increase my physical activity, I am going to go for a walk outside (or in the hallways at work) 3 x per week for 20 minutes during my lunch break for the next 4 weeks.
To increase the fibre in my diet I am going to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day for one month.
To help me prepare more meals at home and reduce my intake of pre-prepared meals I am going to make a meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the next 2 weeks.