One Small Change: Make a S.M.A.R.T Resolution

by in Healthy Tips, December 28, 2011

Let’s start off this month’s post with a quick word association. When you hear the phrase, “New Years’ resolution”, what is the first thought that pops into your mind? Hope? Ridiculousness? Restriction? Success?

Some have a positive feeling associated with New Year’s resolutions, for many others, it probably evokes a slightly uneasy, or even negative feeling as you think of unsuccessful resolution attempts from New Years’ past. Unfortunately, this sentiment can make future resolutions less effective, or in many cases, non-existent.

You’re probably feeling a strong desire to change as we head into 2012, but lack of success with resolutions past make each year’s resolutions easier to let go. But realize that those previous, unproductive resolutions are not a reflection of you or your ability to make healthy changes. They may just be missing the right measurements for a successful resolution.

How can you make a successful resolution? First, consider if your previous resolutions were similar to the ones below, missing some vital measurements and directions:

• Vague: “I’m going to exercise more starting Monday!”
• Unrealistic: “No more sugar!”
• Non-Time Bound: “I am going to lose 50 pounds!”

Too often we make broad, sweeping statements on New Years’ with the intensity of a lion but then follow through like a kitten. The problem is, saying things like “No more sugar” or “I am going to lose 50 pounds” or “I’m going to the gym starting Monday” does not really change your current circumstances, nor does it prepare or motivate you to change them. Our thoughts are in the right place, but these thoughts need to performed consistently until they become habits. Habits create results. To change our habits, we need resolutions that motivate us to change consistently for the better.

And those are motivated, S.M.A.R.T. resolutions. A S.M.A.R.T. resolution has the following characteristics:

S.pecific
M.easurable
A.chievable
R.ealistic
T.ime-bound

An example of a S.M.A.R.T. resolution is: “I will lose 20 pounds by May 31st, 2012 by increasing my physical activity level and improving two of my eating habits. I will continue to go to Pilates class on Mondays at lunch and perform my 60 minute full-body exercise session on Wednesdays after work. I will now add one day of run/walk intervals for 30 minutes on the weekend starting this weekend. I will have one less soda and one less mocha latte per week, as I know there are no real nutrients in either drink. Instead I will drink seltzer and a regular coffee with low-fat milk and one sugar. I will also replace one restaurant meal each week with a healthier, home cooked alternative.”

Can you imagine someone doing that resolution a lot better than “exercising more” or “no more sugar”?

You’ve now created a real, actionable plan that you can hold yourself accountable against. But of course, if we are not motivated to follow-through on our S.M.A.R.T. resolution, it is still just a “good idea.”

To determine your motivation, ask yourself this about your S.M.A.R.T. resolution: “Why did I choose this resolution? Why do I want to make these changes?”

To have more energy or lose weight are a start, but they aren’t good enough. Consider what you will DO with your increased energy and improved weight. Having it doesn’t necessarily make us happy . . . it’s what we do with the results that make us happy. Do you want to play with your kids and not get winded?  Do you want to avoid a disease that runs in your family? Do you want to improve your self-image? Do you just want to feel like you are living your life like you should be? This is the stuff that real resolutions are made of.

Tell us your S.M.A.R.T. resolution and tell others, too. Making your S.M.A.R.T. resolution public, especially amongst supportive friends and family, has been shown to increase motivation and accountability. And that creates action, which creates habits, which produces results.

Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, author of Savor Fitness & Nutrition wellness blog and avid proponent of MyBodyTutor, a health coaching website dedicated to helping people stay consistent with their healthy eating and exercise goals.

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Comments (23)

  1. Therese says:

    I lost 80 lbs 3 years ago with Weight Watchers and have gained 5 lbs back this year. I am hoping that this keeps me motivated to get those lbs off in

  2. Thymelines™ Fitness & Nutrition says:

    That's fantastic! What is your SMART resolution? What steps will you take to get those pounds off? Make goals that you can act on, such as "eating one more serving of veggies every day", or "going to the gym/taking a class twice a week"

  3. [...] post on making S.M.A.R.T. resolutions at Food Network’s HealthyEats.com inspired me to take the [...]

  4. [...] One Small Change: Make a S.M.A.R.T Resolution | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment [...]

  5. Becca says:

    I am going to lose 20 pounds by June 1st, 2012. I lost 50 pounds about four years ago, but I have come to the conclusion that I am still not at my ideal weight. I will do this by continuing to use my elliptical five to seven times per week (which I already do) for 45 to 60 minutes per session.

    My biggest problem will be food: I have a great deal of trouble with willpower and resisting candy, snacks, etc. My fiance loves candy and so we pretty much always have it in the house. I will attempt to resist this by asking him to keep it in a drawer or somewhere out of sight so that I do not snack on it whenever I see it. I will also begin measuring everything that I eat to make sure I really understand the portion sizes (this is another problem I've always had). In addition, when going out to eat, I will attempt to figure out some healthy choices they offer before we go, so that I am not tempted by unhealthy choices when we get there.

  6. Thymelines™ Fitness & Nutrition says:

    Tawny, thanks so much, I appreciate the feedback! Becca, I love all of those ideas…sounds like you are taking some real steps to make changes. If you frequent particular restaurants, take the time now to review the menu and write down the healthier options you want to get on a small piece of paper and keep it with you in your bag or wallet. Then you will always have a handy reference every time you go! If you like my writing on Healthy Eats and want to read more, you can check out my blog at http://www.LifeSavored.com and my website at http://www.JasonMachowsky.com Thanks!

  7. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I’m quite sure I will learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  8. medifasthealthblog says:

    Smart resolutions towards weight loss plans must be worked a lot it needs more and more concentration, determination and dedication, these small things can change even more than the expectation, here I learn the valuable part of SMART which delivers a positive approach among those persons who wants to lose their weight. I must follow certain tips of S.M.A.R.T resolution and was wondering about the results.

  9. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I'm quite sure I will learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

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