Because of my title, I have a Homer Simpson line running through my head right now, “I am so smart. S-m-r-t.” And I can’t get it out. Oh well, this is how my day begins! We’re almost five months into the year, and I’ve noticed a decline in the number of people going to the gym. The year always starts out strong, as many people make weight loss or gain goals a New Year’s resolution. For some people, the desire fizzles after a few months. One reason that people don’t meet their weight goals is that they see them as short-term solutions and not a longer-term lifestyle change.
Setting realistic goals can spike your chances for success. Have you had to set SMART objectives for your job? If not, I’ll get into more detail shortly. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. They work equally as well in your personal life, so why not set them for your weight-loss or weight-gain goals to help you succeed? Whether you’re passionate or not about your health journey, SMART objectives can keep you focused and motivated, and provide a plan for change as you move towards a healthier lifestyle.
Important things to consider for setting SMART objectives
It’s important that when you set SMART objectives for yourself, especially for weight-loss or weight-gain goals, you make sure they are realistic. Nothing can undermine your efforts as much as unrealistic or over-aggressive goals. No matter what your reason to lose or gain weight, you need to follow a path that will work for you.
Your goals should focus on outcomes and the process.
- An outcome goal is what you hope to achieve in the end, for example, “I want to lose or gain 25 pounds”. This goal will give you a target, but it won’t address how you will reach it.
- A process goal is a necessary step to achieving your desired outcome. They will help you focus on changing the behaviors and habits that are needed to lose or gain weight. An example of a process goal is eating ten helpings of fruits and vegetables a day, and working out for 30 minutes a day.
How to set your SMART objectives
Use the following tips to help you create the SMART objectives that will help you meet your weight-loss or weight-gain goals and improve your overall health. Be sure that your weight-loss or weight-gain goals, whether a process goal or an outcome goal, meet the following criteria:
Include specific details. For example, a goal to exercise more is not, but a goal to walk 30 minutes after work every day is specific. Another one is saying that you will eat five small meals a day, breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack and dinner. You’re saying what you’ll do, how long you’ll do it and when.
If you can measure a goal, then you can objectively determine how successful you are at meeting the goal. A goal of eating better is not easily measured, but a goal of eating 1,200 calories a day can be measured. A goal of riding your bike is not measurable. A goal of riding your bike for 30 minutes three days a week is measurable.
An achievable goal is one that you have enough time and resources to achieve. For example, if your schedule doesn’t allow you to spend an hour every day at the gym, then it wouldn’t be achievable. But, maybe going to the gym twice during the week and twice on the weekend might work. Similarly, if something like Cross Fit is too difficult, it wouldn’t be an achievable goal for you so include it in your plan.
Goals must be realistic for you. If you’re trying to lose weight, according to the Mayo Clinic, a realistic goal for most people is five to 10 percent of their current weight. For example, your doctor can help you determine the daily calorie goal that is realistic for you based on your current weight and health. If you set an unrealistic goal, you may end up disappointed with your results or even give up.
Set a realistic and specific timeline for your weight-loss or weight-gain goal. It’s easier to achieve your goals if you keep a record of your progress. If you have an outcome goal of losing 20 pounds in six months, record your weight each week. You can keep track of your progress through FitBit, myfitnesspal.com or mapmyrun.com. Keep a food diary if you’re also including nutritional changes. Keeping track can help you monitor your progress and stay motivated.
If, at around the halfway point of your journey you find that you might not meet your end goal, make some modifications to your program to put yourself back on track. And most importantly, don’t forget to keep going, even if you feel like giving up. You’re doing a great thing by trying to improve your health, and any steps you make are going to be positive.
Use our SMART objectives template to help you get started.