It’s time for a new way of thinking.
Some of the changes you need to make when you want to improve your health and lifestyle may feel immense – but if you think about it, every significant change in life actually involves lots of small changes, which over time equate to real progress in a particular area.
No matter how big or small your goal – whether it’s losing 5 or 50 pounds or walking a mile – making change requires planning and SMART goal setting. We all say we will overcome the ‘less good’ behaviours, but without setting a plan, this can be near impossible to stick to. This is where SMART goals can be extremely useful. You need to move it or you will lose it, so maintaining/regaining health and activity/mobility may be a goal you want to set or have set.
Follow these guidelines to setting SMART goals and you will be surprised at what you can do:
The acronym SMART stands for:
Specific – Define the goal in detail. A goal should not be vague. Outline exactly what behaviour you want to target.
Measurable – The goal must involve some unit of measurement in order to determine whether it has been achieved.
Achievable – The goal must be achievable. Setting the bar too high can lead to disappointment when the goal is not achieved. If anything, make the goal easier to begin with and you can always make it harder as you progress.
Realistic – A goal must be relevant to the behaviour you would like to change. Ensure it is going to help you work towards the outcome you want to achieve.
Timely – It is important to set a time-frame as this will keep you motivated! People always work better when there is deadline in sight.
So now we know about SMART goals, it’s a good idea to set a few more action-oriented SMART goals so that you have a game-plan. At any stage of our lives we can set goals and still achieve them. Achieving 60-80% of your goal is much better than not trying at all and getting 0%.
Here are a few game-plan examples:
- By the end of the month I will be eating more fruit and vegetables.
- By the end of the month I will be going for a bike ride every second day for 40 minutes.
- I will walk 5 days every week for 30 minutes each.
- I will bring my lunch to work instead of eating out 4 days this week.
So once you have some goals in place, how can you stick to them?
You first have to set yourself up for success, here are some tips:
1. Don’t set ridiculously big goals
Being unrealistic is the most common reason people fail with their healthy eating plans. Trying to stop drinking, giving up sugar and going caffeine-free all at once, for example, is going to be difficult and set you up to fail.
2. Don’t wait until you’re hungry to choose your food
You are much more likely to reach for the cakes and sweet stuff if you’re hungry or tired so being prepared can definitely help during those wobbles.
Always carry some healthy snacks when you are out and batch cook some meals for those nights when you get home and can’t be bothered to cook.
3. Don’t let one bad day completely derail you
We all have days where we don’t eat as healthily as planned and fall off the wagon. The important thing is how you deal with the aftermath. Never skip a meal – which can encourage binge eating. Instead, always have three main meals, just make them light, healthy ones.
4. Share your goal with someone else.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable and share your aspirations with friends. This can really be a boost on those days when you might want to skip the exercise or healthy eating. It keeps you accountable.
5. Find a role model.
Look out for someone who practices the goal you aspire to achieve – see how they fit this into their lives and try and incorporate what will work for you. This can really help keep you on the straight and narrow.
Read more here on Living a healthy life.