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    Achieve a healthier lifestyle this year by setting SMART goals

    Alyssa Welte Clinical Dietitian 01/17/2024

    As the new year begins, people often use this time to set goals to get healthier. When it comes to making diet and exercise changes, setting realistic goals will be the best way to start your year and set yourself up for success!

    Think about what you would like to achieve and set a SMART goal. What does that mean? Try something like this...

    • Specific – “I would like to eat more vegetables this year.”
    • Measurable – “I will consume three vegetables every day.” Having a set number is easier to track than “I will eat more vegetables.”
    • Achievable – “Can I achieve this, or is this setting me up for failure? Maybe I should just start with a goal of two vegetables a day, and later I can increase my goal to three when I’m ready.”
    • Relevant – “Will this help my journey to a healthier lifestyle? Yes, it will!”
    • Time-Bound – “I set a goal to eat two vegetables every day. That holds me accountable each day!”

    When setting your SMART goal, be sure it is realistic and not too complicated. Are you thinking about losing weight? A realistic weight loss goal is 1-2 pounds per week or 4-8 pounds per month. Anything more likely won’t be sustainable long-term.

    To lose 1-2 pounds a week, we recommend a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day. So, what does that mean? If you usually eat around 2000 calories a day, aim for 1500 calories daily or 1750 calories and add in exercise to burn another 250 calories.

    Diet and exercise together are often the most sustainable. But don’t feel like you need to completely change your eating habits, buy an expensive gym membership, and burn yourself out by the end of January!

    Start simple, like go for walks during your lunch break or do a quick YouTube workout after work. You can even get the kids involved and make a game out of being active! Simple diet changes could be decreasing sugary beverages, adding one more vegetable a day, or cooking at home more and eating out less.

    For most, changing small things over time is more successful than making major changes all at once. Maybe add 15-30 minutes of exercise just twice a week. When that becomes a habit, increase it to three times a week. If you drink two sodas a day, decrease it to one a day, then later decrease it to every other day, etc., rather than quitting cold turkey.

    Just remember that every day is a new opportunity to try again. If you did not get in your exercise yesterday, or maybe plans changed and you did not get to eat the healthier dinner you planned, try again today.

    If you need help setting goals or want someone to help you be accountable, ask your doctor to send a referral for an outpatient appointment with a Deaconess Dietitian!

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