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The Best Way to Set a Goal

Smart goals

Make a SMART goal to win at losing

It’s easier to make healthy changes if you have a goal in mind, but it turns out there’s more to setting goals than simply deciding you want to lose weight. “If goals aren’t managed in a way that guides you through the entire process, it can be difficult to reach your goals,” says Lisa Cimperman, R.D., a dietitian at University Hospitals in Cleveland and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To set yourself up for success, make a SMART goal that is:

S: Specific

Make your goal as specific as possible, and write it down. Don’t just say “I want to eat better.” Instead, create a goal centered around how you will accomplish that. If you want to eat less fast food, your goal could be to make healthy lunches instead of buying them.

M: Measurable

You want to track your goals so you can measure your progress. Add details to your lunch goal: You’ll make a healthy lunch instead of buying lunch four days a week.

A: Attainable

Set a goal that you can achieve, and feel good about it. Setting a goal that is out of reach can be discouraging and tempt you to give up.

R: Realistic

This quality has a lot in common with “attainable.” Healthy, lasting changes won’t happen overnight. It’s not realistic to expect yourself to lose 50 pounds in a month, and it’s not realistic to expect yourself to cook every meal from scratch if you don’t cook often now. But if making a healthy lunch instead of buying one four days a week is something you can do, that’s a good goal.

T: Timely

While you can’t expect overnight changes, it helps to set a timeline with a start date and an end date. Can you aim to make healthy lunches four days a week for the next month? At the end of the month, see how you did, and then set your next SMART goal.


Calvin Tan