Get SMART about Weight Loss

SMART 7-15-14

It’s been 6 months since New Year’s. How’s everyone doing with your New Year’s resolutions? I know how easy it is to lose track of our goals. We have the best intentions, but life gets in the way. Before we know it, 6 months have flown by! In case you need a reboot, I thought I’d touch on the idea of SMART goals in this post.

SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-oriented. You can set SMART goals to help you achieve any goal. Since weight loss is a popular New Year’s resolution, let’s look at what SMART goal setting looks like for weight loss.

Specific: Decide what you plan to do. Then, be very clear. Name the details, such as how often, when, where, and how long. For instance, don’t say, “I will work out more.” Instead say, “I will walk Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at lunchtime for 20 minutes for the next 2 weeks.”

Measurable. Being able to measure and track your goals is important because tracking progress:

  • Boosts motivation
  • Helps you see how well you are moving toward a goal
  • Helps you understand when it’s time to set other goals
  • Reminds you to reward yourself

Track your goals in a way that’s easy for you. Try a journal, a Web-based diet/fitness tracker, or smartphone app.

Attainable. Make your SMART goals a series of small steps that help you reach your overall weight loss goal. Your SMART goals should be goals you can actually achieve. For instance, it might be nice to work out 7 days a week, for 1 hour a day, for a year, but it’s not very attainable. A more attainable goal might be to add 20 minutes of physical activity to your day for a month.

Realistic. Don’t try to change all your eating habits in a day. Start with a realistic step like cutting out soda. Then move on to other goals like eating out only one time a week or eating smaller portions.

Time-oriented. Set a start and end date for your goals and keep the time frame short. A week or two will do. Setting an end date doesn’t mean you’re done. But it does give you a chance to figure out what works for you (and what doesn’t) and to reset goals.

Take a moment to think about your New Year’s resolutions. How many of you had vague goals to “lose weight” or “get in shape”? Do you think they’re SMART goals? Try to come up with new goals that are SMART. It just might make the difference between you achieving your goal or finding the same goal on your list next year.