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Be S.M.A.R.T with your wellness goals

by Okanagan Nutrition

So you’re feeling motivated to make lifestyle changes to feel better.

That is GREAT!

But, there are a few common mistakes we can make when we set goals for ourselves.

Probably the two biggest are that we tend to be too general, and our goals are generally focused on the outcome, not the steps or behaviour changes needed to get to that outcome.

Have you ever woken up and decided to you are going to run a marathon, but you’ve never actually run more than 500 meters in your life?

Decided you want to be “healthier”, but when you sit down and think about it, you have no idea where to start or what “healthier” even means to you. And because of this, you try and make too many changes at once, get overwhelmed and give up?

Even as health professionals, one of the biggest mistakes we can make is to overwhelm our clients with too many changes in order to achieve a wellness goal.

This is why, it tends to work better to get a client to prioritize their top 3 health goals and break those down into very specific and action or behaviour oriented goals – this is where S.M.A.R.T goals come in.

What is a S.M.A.R.T goal?

S

Specific – The What, the When, the How of your goal.

M

Measurable – How are you going to keep track of your goal? How often are you going to do it?

A

Action Oriented – What action/s are you going to take to achieve your goal?

R

Realistic – Really think about it, is the goal you set for yourself achievable? Does it make sense for you? It may seem less monumental to set smaller goals, instead of big, end game goals. However, setting smaller, more achievable goals can be extremely motivating and set you up to make sustainable behaviour changes for better health.

T

Time-oriented – How long is it going to take you to reach this goal and how often are you going to do it?

Examples of S.M.A.R.T goals

Ambiguous Goal – Eat out less.

S.M.A.R.T Goal – I will cook a home made meal once a week for the next 4 weeks.

Ambiguous Goal – Eat more vegetables

S.M.A.R.T Goal – I will eat 1 cup of vegetables with dinner 4 times this week. I will try one new vegetable each week for the next 2 weeks.

Ambiguous Goal – Increase my fibre intake

S/M.A.R.T Goal – I will eat whole grains over white or refined grains for the next 2 weeks or I will add 2 tbsp of ground flax to my diet each day this week.

Ambiguous Goal: Eat more plant-based protein

S.M.A.R.T Goal: I will find a new recipe using legumes this week.

Ambiguous Goal: I want to exercise more

S.M.A.R.T Goal: I am going to go on a 30 minute walk three times this week.

Ambiguous Goal: I want to lose 15 lbs.

S.M.A.R.T Goal: I will eat only until satisfied (not stuffed), for 7 meals this week.

SM.A.R.T Goals: I will swap my pop for naturally flavoured soda water this week.

How to stay on track with your goals

Making lifestyle changes is challenging and setting goals requires you to check in with yourself and adjust as needed.

Not every goal you set is going to work for you and there is absolutely no reason for you to feel bad about that. You can adjust your goals at any time if needed.

Maybe setting the goal of cooking two meals a week at home was a bit overwhelming and you need to back it down to one meal a week to start, that is completely ok!

Celebrate your successes – share with those close to you what you’ve accomplished, go for a walk with a friend, book a spa day, buy a new book – whatever makes you feel good!

Looking to make dietary changes? Work with a dietitian to help refine your goals and keep you on track!

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