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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.