Smart Start to the New Year!

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In the dawn of a new year, many of us want a smart start and to embark on the ritual of crafting resolutions, hopeful for transformative change. Yet as the confetti settles, a paradox unfolds. Despite our earnest intentions, the statistics reveal common truth: resolutions often crumble under the weight of unrealistic goal setting as 23% of people quit their resolution by the end of the first week, and 43% quit by the end of January.

I didn’t share this to deter you from making goals for yourself, especially health goals but maybe we need to change the way we go about achieving them. When I work with an individual on their health goals such as eating healthier and exercising more, they typically approach it with an “all or nothing” mindset, in other words, they expect themselves to eat and stick to their new exercise regime perfectly starting the next day and so on. Then if they get off track for whichever reason (which is most likely to happen since this is a unrealistic goal), they feel that they have failed and sometimes throw in the towel without even giving themselves a second chance.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say our schedules are HECTIC these days, so I encourage you to not make it any harder on yourself than it needs to be. After all, these goals are about bettering your present and future self.  Let’s set you up for success on this goal-making journey 😉

First it’s important to consolidate your motivations behind this goal. Why do you want to make this change? Why is it important to you? What are your long term goals? Some examples of health goals:

  • “I want to eat healthier because I want to reduce my risk of type 2 diabetes since it runs in my family.”
  • “I want to implement more exercise in my life because I know it improves brain health, reduces my risk of disease and improves my ability to do everyday activities.”
  • “I want to limit screen time at night to help fall asleep faster, which will allow me to be rested the following day and have more energy for work and personal life.”

Once you got these figured out, write them down either on a post-it note or in a note app in your phone so you can refer back to it when needed.

Now that you have your motivations settled, I want to introduce you to creating a SMART Goal. SMART is a mnemonic acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. This framework sets clear parameters that are well-defined and quantifiable which will help keep you on track!

SMART goal examples continuing from above…

  • “For 14 days I will include a salad with my dinner 3x a week by buying enough romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and dressing when I go to the grocery store.”
  • “I want to work out on my stationary bike at home after work for a duration of 35 minutes, 2 days a week for 30 days.”
  • “I will put my phone away at 7:30 p.m. on weekday nights for 30 days.”

I recommend writing down your goals so you can keep track of your progress as you go along. This will also help you identify any barriers you might come across. Take the healthy eating goal as an example, looking back at the 14 days, you noticed the goal was met 30% of the time. Take time to reflect. What wasn’t working for you? The next step would be to modify your goal to be more realistic and relevant. Then once you have met your goal, make another ensuring you work your way up to big change so it’s not all at once!

Healthy regards, Cassandra RDN

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. No material provided in this blog, including images and graphics, is intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before making any dietary changes or starting a new health care regimen.  Do not neglect professional advice because of what you may have read in this blog.

Portrait of JNCS Registered Dietitian Nutritionis CassandraAbout the Author: Cassandra is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She graduated with a B.S in Nutritional Science with a concentration in Dietetics in from San Jose State University. Cassandra believes nutrition information, as it exists today, does not fully accommodate all cultural traditions and backgrounds. Cassandra’s goal is to work with individuals step-by-step to help them achieve their personal nutritional health and wellness goals. It is her passion to help individuals cultivate positive, sustainable healthy nutritional habits that they can carry with them throughout life.

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