To successfully manage your weight this year, begin with a plan that incorporates S.M.A.R.T. goals. This entails setting gradual and achievable goals (that are nutrition and fitness related as it applies here), and rewarding yourself for accomplishing them. S.M.A.R.T. goals can help you monitor your food intake, accomplish a moderate to high level of physical activity (to include cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and stretching), and evaluate your daily progress. Keba Laird, Health and Wellness Specialist for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi, says “Staying committed to your S.M.A.R.T. goals will pay off in huge health dividends,” said Keba Laird, Health and Wellness Specialist for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. “You’ll be healthier, look better, and be more energized.”
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for:
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Food Guide Pyramid are excellent models of nutritious eating and physical activity, and can be easily incorporated into your S.M.A.R.T. goals. Here’s how:
#1. Be Specific with your goals. Know exactly what you want to achieve. Simply stating “I will lose weight,” is too general. Rather, make a more precise goal such as, “I will lose 10 pounds in 4 ½ weeks by avoiding sweets, colas, and double meal servings while increasing my physical activity to 45 minutes three days per week.” This will give you more control and satisfaction over the achievement of your goal.
#2. Have Measurable goals. Using dates and times will help you measure your outcomes. A watch or timer can be useful in keeping you motivated as you observe your progress during your workout. By doing this, you will know for sure when you have reached your goal. An example of a measurable goal could be, “I will walk the track on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 30 minutes each day.”
#3. Keep your goals Action-oriented. Once you’ve mentally planned your health goal, then you have to put it in motion. Instead of thinking “I need to eat more fruits,” try “Today I will eat an apple for breakfast, a pear for lunch, and a cup of blueberries for my afternoon snack.” This helps you to follow through with the next step so you don’t postpone your goals to another day.
#4. Be Realistic with your goals. Strive for goals that are attainable, but challenging. Trying to do too much at one time may set you up for failure. Remember, goals are like building blocks -- start with a healthy base and gradually build on it. For instance, if you’re used to eating lunch at fast-food restaurants everyday with your co-workers, saying “I’ll never eat fast-food again” may make you feel deprived and overwhelmed. Perhaps setting a goal that “I will eat a nutritious lunch from home Monday – Thursday, and dine out with my co-workers on Friday” will be more realistic and achievable.
#5. Your goals should be Trackable. It has been proven that if we write down our nutrition and fitness goals, or any type of goal, we are more apt to accomplish them. Keep an accurate log of your food and activity choices. For example, “Each time that I eat a fruit or vegetable I will put a sticker on my calendar.” By doing this you can evaluate your progress, and determine how to adjust your goals for continued improvement.
Once you have accomplished your S.M.A.R.T. goals, give yourself a reward that complements your healthy lifestyle. For instance, consider buying a new pair of running shoes, new workout attire, or a day at the spa. Rewarding yourself is just as important as following your S.M.A.R.T. goal, because rewards help keep you charged and motivated towards healthy living.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are a great tool to help you set reasonable goals and track your progress. Remember to reward your achievements. By following your S.M.A.R.T. goals you will achieve the greatest reward, which is an enhanced quality of life now and for years to come.
For individualized meal plans and nutrition counseling, make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian.
This information has been issued by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi
For more information, please visit our website at www.bcbsms.com or click on our logo.