Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Making a New Year Resolution?
It’s a new year, the time when people are making resolutions to be healthier. Often the resolution is to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, or achieve some other health goal. Of course, the joke about New Year resolutions is that they usually fade away quickly as old routines and habits return.
However, it is possible to actually achieve our New Year goals and make healthy change permanent. The Truman VA Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program specializes in helping Veterans achieve their healthy living goals. Success usually comes when you are sincere about wanting to be healthier AND you learn how to set a goal that is SMART.
What is a SMART goal?
Specific – A goal that is too vague will not be achieved. Instead of “I will be more active,” be specific about what you will do. For example, “I will walk every day.”
Measurable – If you can’t measure it, how will you know if you achieve it? Set a goal that can be measured. Instead of saying “I will walk more,” say “I will walk 15 minutes a day.”
Achievable –Do not make a goal you are unable to physically accomplish – this sets you up for failure and disappointment. Set a goal you are likely to achieve. If unable to walk 15 minutes at a time, start with 5 or 10 minutes and increase as it gets easier.
Relevant – Goals must be relevant to what you are trying to accomplish. For example, setting a goal for 8 hours of sleep per night isn’t very relevant to the goal of weight loss. However, making a goal to walk every day is likely to lead to gradual weight loss.
Time-based – Goals should have a time frame. When will it occur and for how long? Set goals for a week at a time. Example: “I will walk 4 times this week for 15 minutes in the morning.”
When setting a goal, it is good to also think about what might get in the way of success. What can you do to overcome these things? For example, if you are unable to walk because of pain or weather, you could plan to do some stretching or chair exercises instead.
It is also important to reward yourself for your efforts to be healthier, but don’t use food as a reward. Rewarding your efforts helps you stick with your goals and make the change permanent.
If you have questions about how you can Strive for a Healthy Weight this New Year or if you are interested in the MOVE! Weight Management Program, see your VA primary care provider today!
MOVE! Website - www.move.va.gov
National Center for Health Promotion Disease Prevention - www.prevention.va.gov