By: Heather D. Leger, MS, RD, LD
Considering how health has been at the forefront of 2020 for most people, 2021 will likely be no different. Everyone will be ready to start fresh in the New Year and with that comes New Year’s resolutions. Goal setting often revolves around nutrition, exercise, or other lifestyle changes. Maybe your goal is to ‘be healthier’ but what does healthy mean to you?
According to Merriam-Webster, health is the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit and it appears to be at the top of many people’s to-do list during this time of year. Having more time at home has forced people to reevaluate their current diets and has given them more opportunities to make positive nutrition changes. As a registered dietitian, I often recommend using the SMART method when setting goals. SMART goal statements sets a framework that can help you plan and execute clear and actionable objectives. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed.
Before creating your plan for the New Year, think about the behaviors that will help you reach those goals. Keeping it SMART means focus should be placed on these health behaviors rather than just the end results like weight loss or improved diet. If you find yourself saying “I want to eat healthier”, switch gears and think about the health behaviors required to make that happen: “I want to eat more fruits and vegetables”. This not only helps in making the goal more specific but also allows you to focus on making lasting, long-term behavior changes. Adding a numerical value to the statement allows this goal to be measured and trackable: “I want to eat 3 servings of fruit and vegetables each day”. Make sure this number is both achievable and realistic for you so you can not only meet the goal but also maintain progress. Just like homework, your goal should include a deadline for completion. By putting the goal in a time frame, this can give you motivation and help you prioritize.
Effective health-related goals can be challenging but by using the SMART method, you can set yourself up for success in 2021.