The SMART Way to Achieve Your Health Goals

Feeling a bit bloated and uncomfortable from the festive eating spree? Here’s some SMART motivation to start your new year off on a healthy note…

Living a healthy lifestyle is no longer an option, it’s a must. Take any health stats in South Africa. Although occasionally improving, the general health trend is headed in a negative direction. Everyone knows someone with a health issue, especially a lifestyle disease. It is not surprising that health matters are among the top 3 most common New Year’s resolutions. How often have you heard, “I need to exercise more, eat more healthily or lose weight,” outperform other resolutions like money matters or learning a new skill?

It is suggested that by looking after your health, you can actually save money by cutting down on junk food and eating out and by developing weekly meal plans that are healthy but affordable. We did some digging to find out how people manage to maintain and achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully it’ll help you (and us!) get further than just February.

Experts say that efforts to change are more successful if they are SMART— that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based.

Just as you set SMART goals at work or in your business, the same can be applied in your personal life. Make sure your goal can pass the SMART test:

  • Set a very SPECIFIC goal. For example: I will cut down on sugar by having one teaspoon less in my morning cuppa.
  • Find a way to MEASURE progress. Keeping a food diary is very useful as it will help you note your daily efforts and identify challenges or problem areas that you may not consciously be aware of.  
  • Make sure it’s ACHIEVABLE. Don’t underestimate or overestimate your capabilities or your environment. Going cold turkey or taking on too much is very difficult on any challenge. You’re far more likely to succeed with small adjustments or goals.
  • Be REALISTIC. It may seem counterintuitive but choosing the “big” change you most need to make – like quitting smoking or losing weight – might not be as achievable as incremental changes. Focus on sure bets, such as cutting down on sugar or processed foods rather than overhauling your diet all at once. If you picture a 10-point scale of confidence in achieving your goal, where 1 equals no confidence and 10 equals 100% certainty, you should land in the 7-to-10 zone.
  • Set TIME commitments. Pick a date and time to start, like Monday morning at breakfast, and say, “I’ll have one teaspoon less of sugar.” Then set regular check-in dates. You might check your log every week on a Saturday and decide if you should make any changes in your routine. When setting commitments, outside deadlines can be really helpful. Sharing your goals with a partner, a colleague or a friend can help keep you in check and motivate you to show results.

Remember though, no undue pressure from yourself or your close circle – only support and encouragement. And don’t forget to celebrate achievements no matter how small they seem!

Share some of your healthy New Year’s resolutions with us!

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