You want to be healthier, so you tell yourself, I’m going to go to the gym three times a week, and I’m going to eat kale with every meal. Straightforward enough, but somewhere along the line you find yourself wondering, why am I doing this? Is it working? How long do I have to keep this up?

Enter S. M. A. R. T. goals.

The acronym S. M. A. R. T. supposedly comes from a man named George T. Doran. Doran was a consultant and the former Director of Corporate Planning at Washington Water Power Company. He published a paper outlining how to create meaningful objectives; ones that really mean something and can be achieved. The outline comes from the acronym S. M. A. R. T.; specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-related.

Specific means that it isn’t general or vague, but targets a specific area.

Measurable means that there is a way to quantify, or at the very least measure progress being made.

Assignable means that you can specify exactly who will do it.,

Realistic means that it is possible to do with the resources (financial, emotional, temporal) available.

Time-related means that a specific time-frame will be given for when the objective is to be met.

A goal you set doesn’t have to incorporate all of them, but should include most of them, and I think when it comes to health, some of the elements of the S. M. A. R. T. goal are more important than others; the S, M, and R elements.

So how do you set a health goal that is specific, measurable, and realistic?

1. Get into the detail Young woman at home

What exactly is it that you want to improve or change? Don’t just say you want to exercises more, state how much; don’t just say you want to eat healthier, say what you want to eat more or less of; and don’t just say you want to lose weight, state where on your body you want to lose it, and exactly how much.

2. Find a way to keep track of progress 

The Lifesum app has a handy tool in the profile where you can update your weight and measurements. It helps you to see how you’re progressing over time, and can be a great source of motivation when you’re finding your new lifestyle challenging.

3. Keep it real Cropped shot of an attractive young athlete getting her music ready before the run

Don’t go chasing waterfalls! If you’re a person that works 14-hour days, 5 days a week, working out three times a week might not be a realistic option; and if you don’t have a huge budget, buying all organic could be a bit of a stretch. Take a look at your circumstances and be realistic about what you can do to get where you want to. Once again, the Lifesum app is a great tool for this; when you pick your initial goal, it tells you to pick a pace at which to work at it – there’s no rush. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

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