Thursday, January 16, 2014

Resolving to be Healthier in 2014

The beginning of a brand-new year is great time to think about self-improvement. Many people set goals or New Year’s resolutions and resolve to finally kick that bad habit or start exercising. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions are often quickly abandoned, especially when people don’t see immediate results. Without a plan in place to keep you on track, it can be challenging to measure your success, and frustrating when you don’t succeed. 

If you have the determination and willpower to change a habit, one way to help you stick to your resolutions or goals for 2014 is to set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-focused and Time-bound. This proven method of goal-setting can be applied to virtually any habit you wish to stop or start, such as quitting smoking, eating healthier, exercising more or drinking more water. Using SMART goals, your chances of achieving success improve through following a carefully laid-out plan.

Steps of making a “SMART” goal:
S: Specific. Making your goal specific is the difference between an abstract idea and an achievable goal. Adding the way you will achieve your goal helps guide your goal into a more specific approach.
M: Measurable. Think about how you will determine whether or not you reached your goal. Results must be able to be measured; simply saying that you want to make a change can lead to giving up. 
A: Attainable. Ask yourself “Is this goal attainable?” Setting reasonable expectations for yourself will improve your chance of success.
R: Results-focused. Consider what your reasons are for meeting the goal. What is the purpose? How will it benefit you? Keeping the end in mind as you work to meet your goal will help you avoid the temptation to give up.
T: Time-bound. Setting a realistic, timely goal is critical to an effective goal. Not only will it help keep the end in sight, it will also be a motivating factor in sticking to your goal.

Examples of SMART goals - Before & After 
Before: “I want to be thinner.”
After (SMART goal): “I want to lose 10 pounds in four months through exercising four times per week and eating a 1,500 calorie diet, so that I can improve my overall health and reduce my risk of diabetes and heart disease.”

Before: “I want to quit smoking.”
After (SMART goal): “I want to quit smoking and completely reduce my dependence on nicotine within three months’ time, through using nicotine replacement gum as directed, so that I can reduce my risk of lung cancer.”

Before: “I want to consume less sugar.”
After (SMART goal): “I will begin to drink at least eight glasses of water every day and eliminate sugary beverages from my diet, to reduce my sugar intake and chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.”

What are your goals for 2014? Share in the comments. 

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