Is Getting Healthier Your New Year’s Resolution?

SMART

These tips may help!

By Dr. Susan Sykes

What’s that?
You want to do better with your health this year?

Resolutions to do better are easy to make. Knowing how to stick with those resolutions and exactly what to do to make the changes you want are much harder. 

For example, a friend of mine decided he would eat better. Proudly he told me how he made a dish of chicken and rice and ate that instead of corn chips with salsa or ice cream for dinner. My response was, “Well, that’s a good start. What about the vegetables?” My friend took my suggestion and added vegetables to his meal the next day.

There are several things we must consider when making resolutions or health goals. The first thing is that have to be SMART. What this means is that the goal must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Trackable.

A Specific goal would be something such as I want to lose 10 pounds, as opposed to I want to lose weight. After all, if you lose one pound you have lost weight, but maybe not enough to impact your health.

Measurable means that you have a way to assess your progress. If you want to be fit, what does that mean? Maybe it means you can climb a flight of stairs with ease or you can comfortably walk a mile.

Attainable means just that. While walking a mile each day may be attainable for one person, it might not be attainable for someone who can hardly get out of a chair. For that person, an attainable goal might be to be able to walk down the hall and back.

Reasonable is similar to attainable in that it needs to be something you can achieve; however, it is more than that. If you want to lose 50 pounds over the next year, that is certainly an attainable goal. If you want to lose 50 pounds this month, then the goal is no longer reasonable.

Trackablity and timed goal setting is critical so you can plan how to achieve your goal, but also so you can measure your progress along the way. If you want to be able to walk a mile by this time next year, you would measure how far you can walk now so you can get an idea of how much more you need to be able to walk each week or month in order to be able to walk a mile by this time next year. Then, by measuring how far you walk, you can see if you are moving toward your goal and if your goal is reasonable.

When it comes to setting your SMART health goals, it is wise to work with someone who can help you by assessing where you are now and by making reasonable suggestions for how to get to your goal. If your goal is to eat better (which is not a SMART goal because it is not specific, measurable or trackable), you want to outline for yourself, with someone else’s help, what that means and how you will know you are eating better. Often, like my friend, it helps to take steps towards your goal. First, he chose more nutrient-dense foods for dinner. Then he was able to improve his dinner by adding important missing foods (vegetables). Had he worked out his SMART goal for eating, it would have included that he would eat 3 -5 ounces of high quality protein, as half a cup of nutrient dense, whole grains, and a cup or more of freshly cooked vegetables every day for dinner.

Making plans to improve your health and life are commendable. They become achievable when they are SMART goals and you have a plan, along with proper support in place to help you meet your goals.

Dr. Susan S. Sykes is a chiropractor with Advance Chiropractic and Health Care in Clemmons, N.C.

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