Monday, December 24, 2012

What SMART Goals are and how they help you create new habits

Hi everyone! I'm in serious purge mode this holiday season. As new year approaches I'm tossing out clutter in my life, including stuff here on the ol' blog.  And since I'm such an avid recycler, I thought this post might be a good one to bring to the forefront. You know, with resolutions and all. ;-) If you find you declare new year's resolutions every year, but can't seem to make them stick, here are some tips to make them a reality. Read on… 

One of the top excuses people give me for not exercising, or making healthy meals or getting enough sleep, is "I don't have time." Uh, oh! If that's your top reason, you definitely need to make time! And you know what, you can find the time if you want to. You can re-prioritize things in your live, discontinue time-wasting activities--think TV and Facebook--or multitask, like walking with friends after work instead of meeting for snackies and drinkies.

Make it a SMART GOAL!
Consider all the stages of your life when you've had to get your schedule together and follow through. When you enrolled in college you found time to study so you could graduate, right? When you had your baby no doubt had to make some serious adjustments to your lifestyle to her needs, right?

You figured out how to make time for priorities in your life and you developed new habits. Now you just need to do the same for your health.

OK, so now you want to get serious about living a healthier lifestyle. Great! Well, first we need to step back and view the big picture. What exactly does your goal mean, beyond "shape up" "eat healthier" or "lose weight". If your goal is too broad and not specific you'll have a hard time setting a plan to help you succeed.

When a new student comes to me, we rein in all those I-need-to-do-this-and-this-and-this thoughts  percolating in her head and hash out her SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Examples would be:

I will walk for 30 minutes around the Esplanade, MW&F on my lunch break at 12:30pm. That's a lot more specific than saying I'll exercise more this week. That's too vague.

I will write specific goals for the week on my wall calendar and give myself a gold star after I accomplish them. Hey, whatever works to get you to set a goal and measure progress. You need to write your goals down in advance and check them off as you do them. 

I will walk for 3 minutes and jog for 30 seconds 6 times on Tuesday and Friday this week before work. This may be more challenging than just walking but it's attainable for someone who's been walking for weeks already and needs to bump it up a bit.

I dream of someday running a half marathon, but right now I'm training for my first 5K in 3 months.  Keep focused on your immediate goal so what you do is relevant and keeps you on track.

I want to lose 25 pounds. I know that losing 1 pound a week is realistic. So in 4 weeks, if I'm on track, I should have lost 4 pounds. If not I will reevaluate my food and exercise habits so I don't lose sight of my longer term goal of 25 pounds.  Timely goals, such as weekly, monthly, quarterly even annually, helps you stay on task towards your long term goal.

Remember, living a healthy lifestyle is not only good for your body but good for your brain, mood, sex life, the list goes on… so, what can you do today to get started? What is your goal? If you'd like some guidance, let me know!


Gayle said...

I love having a walking buddy at work! definitely gets me moving!

thanks for being such a good motivator!

kab said...

I've made time and I've felt the results. Though I'm no model-thin, perky Barbie type...more like a roundish middle-aged type. But I feel great, I have more energy and I'm stronger than I've ever been in my life. So worth it, even on days when I have to drag myself to class. Do it!

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