As the year comes to a close and a New Year begins, will you be making any New Year’s resolutions? Many of us use this as a time to reflect and decide to make changes to improve our lives. In fact, surveys have found some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions include “live life to the fullest,” “live a healthier lifestyle” and “lose weight.”
Making New Year’s resolutions is a good first step towards adopting healthier habits—but the challenge is sticking to them! Turning your resolutions into a series of smaller goals can help make healthy lifestyle changes more manageable. Here are a few SMART tips that can transform your New Year’s resolutions into everyday realities.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Using this acronym when developing your goals will help you create a personalized action plan that fits your lifestyle. Here are a few examples.
- Specific: Take the resolution to “lose weight” a step further by focusing on ways to make small, specific changes to your diet that reduce calories, such as “I will cut out “empty calorie” foods like soda and sweets and instead, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables,” or “I will practice portion control when eating meals and snacks.” And don’t forget to look for ways to move more throughout the day to help burn calories, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking to the train station instead of taking the bus.
- Measurable: Adding numbers to your goals will make it easier to track your progress. Make “eating more fruits and vegetables” measurable by setting a goal of “I will eat 3 servings of fruit and 2 servings of vegetable each day” or ” I will walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week” instead of “getting more exercise.” You will feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you achieve your goals, and are more likely to make them lifelong healthy habits.
- Attainable: Set goals you can achieve. You may want to run a marathon but if you are sedentary, setting an initial goal to walk 10 minutes a day is more realistic and can lead you on a path to achieving your ultimate goal. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.
- Realistic: Making unrealistic goals can set you up for disappointment. For example, experts recommend losing 1 to 2 pounds a week to be a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss. So, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds in one week, you are likely to be discouraged when you don’t reach your goal and give up. Also consider how your goals will fit within your lifestyle, and what adjustments you can or are willing to make.
- Timely: Establish a timeframe for your goals—either short or long term. For example, if you’ve never been a breakfast eater and have made it a goal to start the day by eating a healthy breakfast, consider a short timeframe to help you get started, like “This week, I will eat breakfast every day.”
Most importantly, keep the end in mind by reminding yourself of how sticking to your New Year’s resolutions will improve your quality of life, and know that small changes can make a big difference! Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!