Set the Right Goals for a Healthier Life
This year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has chosen “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” as its annual theme. The best way to succeed at living a healthier life is to set the right goals.
These simple guidelines will help you get started:
Set “SMART” Goals: The most effective goals are structured to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time framed (SMART). Remember, goals are what you wish to achieve, not what you do.
Think Big, Start Small, and Create a Plan of Action: Studies have shown that setting “stretch” goals, or goals that are overly ambitious, often leads to failure. The best way to avoid failure is to set small, achievable goals and make a game plan of how to reach them.
For example, if your overall goal is to lose 20 pounds, you might set a goal of losing 1 pound a week. Then, instead of having a side of French fries every day at lunch, substitute it for a garden salad. That one reduction in daily calories should be enough to reach your goal of 1 pound that first week. Doesn’t that sound easier than trying to lose 20 pounds all at once?
Set Yourself Up for Success: Set goals you know you can achieve, such as an easy swap at a meal, or a realistic exercise goal. Setting a goal to exercise seven days a week for one hour a day may not be realistic, especially if you have a full-time job and a family life. A more realistic goal could be to exercise three days a week for 30 minutes. Once you achieve that goal, you can increase the duration and frequency of your workouts.
Be Accountable: Sharing your goals with a friend or colleague can increase your accountability. It can also help you obtain encouragement from someone outside yourself and inspire you to find new ways to accomplish lifestyle changes.
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