Lifestyle changes take time. Like all changes (good and bad) practice is involved. If we want to make sustainable change towards a larger goal, we must make smaller SMART goals to get there. We cannot wake up one day and run a marathon, but we can train for several months, or years to get there. That is what needs to happen in our daily lives to make smaller habits our new lifestyle. Once we have the foundation, adding to it is more manageable.

Where do you start?

Take some time to think about where you want your health to be. What does health mean/look like for you personally. Not what society tells us we should look or feel like, but what feels good for you? For some, it is to be able to keep up with their kids or grandkids, others want to eat for longevity, have more energy, better digestion, or lowering cholesterol levels. Once we have our large goal, we can make smaller ones to help us get there. That is where SMART goals come into play.

What is a SMART goal?

SMART goals are a way of setting objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. This method helps you to clarify your ideas, focus your effort, use your time and resources productively and increase your chances of achieving what your larger goal is months down the road.

SMART goals increase your chances of success by making your goals more realistic, focused and trackable.

So, lets break it down into each category.

Specific – Setting specific goals is essential for giving your actions a clear direction. Instead of making vague statements like “I want to eat healthier,” try to make your goal more specific, such as “I will incorporate one additional serving of vegetables into my meals every day.” This clarity helps your stay focused and increases your chances of success.

Measurable – Measurable goals allow you to track your progress and evaluate your achievements. Include quantifiable elements in your goals, such as “I will drink 64 ounces of water a day” or “I will limit my added sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day.” Measuring your progress keeps you accountable and provides a sense of accomplishment. Now each day you can say, yes, I drank 64-ounces of water or no, I only had 32-ounces of water today.

Attainable – While we cannot make change without challenging ourselves, setting attainable goals is crucial for maintaining motivation and avoiding frustration or feeling like failed. When making SMART goals, consider your current lifestyle, commitments, resources and potential barriers. Start with small, achievable steps that align with your capabilities. For example, if you are new to exercise or just getting back into it, set a goal of walking for 30-minutes at least three days a week. This is more attainable than aiming for daily intense exercise.

Relevant – Ensure that your goals are relevant to your overall health objectives and align with your personal values. Ask yourself why this goal is important to you. For instance, if you’re aiming to reduce your sodium intake, it should be relevant to your desire to manage your blood pressure or reduce your risk of heart disease. The more meaningful your goals are to you, the more likely you’ll be to stay committed.

Time-bound – Setting a deadline for your goals helps create a sense of urgency, prioritize your tasks and prevents procrastination. Establish specific timeframes to achieve your objectives. For instance, instead of saying, “I want to lower my cholesterol,” set a goal like “I will bring my total cholesterol levels down by 5% over the next three months. Having a timeframe in mind provides focus and motivates you to take action. Open ended goals leave room to push it off and say, “I’ll get to it tomorrow, next week etc…”

So, what are some SMART goal examples?

S: reduce daily added sugar intake by cutting out sugary beverages and processed snacks

M: limit added sugar consumption to less than 25 grams per day

A: Gradually reduce sugar intake by substituting sugary items with nutrient dense foods

R: decreasing added sugars will help with energy production, aid in weight management and balance blood sugars

T: achieve goal in three months


S: Increase overall lean muscle mass

M: obtain body composition test and perform strength training exercise three days a week

A: start with basic exercises and gradually increase weight and resistance each week thereafter

R: improved fitness, flexibility, stability and overall health

T: retest body composition in three months to track progress

By incorporating SMART goals into your health journey, you are setting yourself up for success. Remember to make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your progress (I will too) and adjust along the way as needed. Whether you’re striving to eat more vegetables, drink more water, change body composition, or improve bloodwork, SMART goals will guide you towards making lasting and meaningful changes. Stay committed, believe in yourself and enjoy the positive impact of these goals will have on your health and well-being!