I interview people every week at the gym and out in the community. When I ask them about their goals as it pertains to weight loss and fitness they invariably say “to lose a few pounds and get toned or fit”.  That brings me to my topic today-SMART Goals.

I learned about SMART goals two different ways. They are very similar but with some subtle differences. If you are really wedded to the idea of making a serious lifestyle change, you have to spend some time focused on goal setting. True fundamental lifestyle change is difficult. Life gets in the way and derails great initial efforts and intentions.

When beginning your efforts to lose weight and tone up, most people have thoughtfully considered the pros and cons for a while. We call that decisional balance. Just make a list of all the benefits of weighing less and a list of all of the perceived costs or difficulties you’ll encounter along the way. Everyone knows the benefits of weighing less. First, feeling better, intrinsically we all know that. Most of us can relate to a time in our past when we weighed less and felt more alive and vibrant. For some it was High School, others before the kids came along. One of the other benefits of being slimmer is decreased risk of disease. Whether chronic or sudden, getting closer to your ideal weight has a profound impact on your health. 

The next things we consider are the costs or potential road blocks. Here is a short, partial list of the most common ones I hear. Not enough time, too much money, I don’t know what a healthy diet looks like, medications, injuries, career stresses and family issues. My job is to turn those perceived roadblocks into speed-bumps. We do that with SMART goal setting.

S stands for specific. You really have to refine and narrowly define your goal. One also needs to have short, medium and long term goals. It’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t break it up into manageable chunks. Success breeds success, reaching short term goals is encouraging and keeps one motivated.

M stands for measurable. “Lose a few pounds” isn’t nearly enough. The goal doesn’t have to be a number. It can be as simple a pair of blue jeans you love and used to fit into. Many of the people I work with get on the Inbody 570 machine and get their body measured. The machine accurately breaks down what you are made of and makes recommendations as to fat loss and muscle gain.

A stands for attainable or appropriate. Some goals are attainable but will actually be harder on your body, making you prone to injury. Don’t get too carried away with the future you, be patient. Appropriate refers to whether or not it relates to the overall long term goal (one of the subtle differences).

R stands for realistic or relevant. Get real with yourself and don’t make the goals too lofty. You can and should be flexible as you move through this process. Relevant refers to how well it fits in with the overall goal (the other subtle difference).

T stands for time bound or time driven. This is a critical component of SMART goal setting as it will hold you accountable and actually drive your adherence and success. Once again, let’s not go crazy here!

Remember my two mottos. You can’t out-train a bad diet and food is fuel and medicine. Losing weight is 80% diet. Get educated on what a healthy diet is and stick to it. Make 80% of your choices healthy ones but give yourself some grace to enjoy life! Using SMART goals as a tool will dramatically help you achieve success! As always, I like to remind people that the KEY to achieving your goals is to answer one simple question. “WHY”? Why is your health and future so important that, this time, nothing will stop you! I wish you well and remember-Anyone can do it, ANYONE!