Tuesday, May 13

Goal setting: keep it S.M.A.R.T.!

by Katherine Matutes, Ph.D.

Changing lifelong health and fitness habits can be challenging, but there are a few key strategies to help you succeed for the long haul. 

Get some skin in the game: paying for a health or fitness service with a personal trainer or for a specialty group exercise class will help hold you accountable and nudge you to “show up” when you might otherwise decide to hit the snooze button.

Get a work out buddy: if you don’t want to spend extra cash on accountability, find a work out buddy who will be expecting you to show up. It’s harder to make excuses to someone else than it is to yourself.

Hang out with the right crowd: studies show that individuals make healthier choices when surrounded by others who make healthy choices. Minneapolis is ranked by the American College of Sports Medicine as one of the fittest cities in the United States (in spite of some pretty chilly winters). Minnesotans consider outdoor exercise in winter the norm where other city populations with less extreme weather are less likely to engage in outdoor activity.

Set SMART goals:
  1. Specific - Plan a detailed goal to achieve: “I will eat 3 servings of vegetables a day” instead of “I will eat more vegetables.”
  2. Measureable - Be sure you can measure your achievement: “I will ride my bike 5 miles this week” versus “I will ride my bike more often.”
  3. Attainable - Make sure your goal is realistic: “I will lose 5 pounds in 2 months” is more attainable and sustainable than “I will lose 20 pounds in 1 month.”
  4. Relevant - Set smaller goals that are relevant to achieve larger goals. For example, if you are training for a mini-marathon six months away, set smaller goals of running 5 miles 3 times a week then increasing the distance over time to say 7 miles 4 times per week and so on. The smaller goals are relevant to getting to your long term goal.
  5. Time-bound - Give yourself a deadline to reach your goal. "I commit to swimming laps three days a week for a month" is more structured than "I will swim laps after work." The deadline gives you a gentle sense of urgency for the work. 
With all these ideas in mind, the JCC has created fitness challenges to help you achieve your fitness goals. Our latest challenge is the JCC 500, where members are signed up (for free!) to complete 500 kilometers of cycling during the month of May. Be on the lookout for this and future challenges!

More About Katherine Matutes, PhD

No comments:

Post a Comment