Setting and Achieving Health and Wellness Goals
Q: Every year on January 1st I set healthy eating goals for myself and always fall off track. Do you have any tips or advice on how to stay on track?
A: Thank you for your question Gina! In order to succeed at building healthy new habits you need to first set a goal, and then figure out what small incremental steps need to be taken to achieve that goal. You need a plan of action!
When working with clients I like to utilize “SMART” goals. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound.
For example, most people I work with want and need to increase their consumption of vegetables to promote optimal health and help them reach their overall health goals. Setting a goal to “eat more vegetables” is a great start. But HOW are you going to reach that goal?
The SMART goals framework provides us with a goal and the plan to meet it:
“In order to improve my health, I will include one serving of vegetables with dinner every night.”
We are specific about WHAT we are going to do and HOW we are going to do it. We’re going to increase our consumption of vegetables by having one serving with dinner every night.
SMART goals allow us to break down our goals into smaller, more achievable tasks. It wouldn’t be very easy to go from the typical 2 or 3 servings of vegetables a day that the average American eats to the optimal 8+ servings all at once. But by utilizing SMART goals we can slowly work our way up to that, while changing our taste buds and trying new foods and preparations, and giving our digestive tract time to adjust to the increase in fiber.
For example, after a few weeks of having one serving of vegetables with dinner every night maybe we add a second serving of vegetables with dinner. Or add a serving of vegetables with lunch (all while keeping the first goal). We have ways to steadily progress and measure our success.
SMART goals can be used to help us tackle nearly any health, fitness, personal, or wellness goal. I love helping my clients create SMART goals for themselves and watching them progress and improve their health and wellness.