It’s the same thing every year: it’s January, here we go, I’m going to do this, that, and everything else! Let’s be honest, if we were to calculate the success rate for your resolutions, would you pass? The fact is that the new year brings with it renewal, which inspires change. So much so, that we tend to give ourselves a multitude of goals, without even asking ourselves if they are realistic. Whether it be losing weight, getting fit, eating right, or whatever the case may be, setting goals is an art that I invite you to discover. My trick: create a SMART goal. In other words, a goal that corresponds to the following criteria:
The first rule to follow when opting for a good resolution, or setting a goal, is that it must be specific. “Being healthy” is not specific. Neither is “getting in shape” or “eating better”. A vague goal will not lead to you taking concrete steps to achieve it, as solutions are too numerous. For instance, what does “being healthy” mean for you? Does it mean being able to go up and down the stairs without getting short of breath, lowering your blood sugar, or eating more vegetables?
Set goals that are measurable, or quantifiable. For example, “eating more vegetables” is not measurable. A measurable goal would be “eat 1 cup of vegetables at every meal”. This way, you increase your chances for success as you have a better idea of the actions that you need to take in order to reach your goal. In this case, you could begin your meal with a vegetable soup or a salad, add raw vegetables to your lunches, and be sure that you prepare enough vegetables for all your lunches and suppers each week.
As silly as you think this may sound, to increase your chances for success, you have to want to achieve your goal. Allow me to explain. You need to set a goal that you WANT to attain, and not make a resolution that you think society, your friends, or your mother would like for you to achieve. In other words, don’t set a goal to go for a run every day if you hate running! Things that we enjoy are easier to do, whereas something that weighs on you isn’t as fun to keep doing. For example, if you start out wanting to eat better, and you tell yourself that you will eat out less often, eat more vegetables, and have breakfast in the morning, but you meet clients for business lunches several times a week, then the goal doesn’t really work! You could focus on making better choices at restaurants, like baked instead of fried, dressing on the side, half portions, tomato-based sauces instead of creamy ones, etc.
Additionally, avoid giving yourself an unrealistic goal. Changing your behaviour is already difficult enough without adding a quasi-impossible goal into the mix! A goal must be big enough to motivate you to stay within your limits to avoid discouragement or project abandonment. As a nutritionist, I often speak to people with unrealistic weight loss goals. The healthy maximum is to lose about 1 kilogram (or 2 lbs.) per week if we change our eating habits and add exercise. Any number higher is at risk of failure – more likely in a loss of water instead of fat – and regaining weight toward the end of the diet. If you wish to lose weight, I would advise you to meet with a nutritionist in order to maximize your chances of success! See the registre des membres de l’Ordre Professionnel des Diététistes du Québec to find the person most suitable for you.
Finally, make sure to set a date for when you would like to have achieved your goal. Without a set time limit, it becomes more difficult to put a plan into action because we always think, “I can start tomorrow” …Also, keep up your motivation with checkpoint dates in between. For example, if we stay on the subject of weight loss, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds in 2 months, then you can give yourself a goal of losing 5 pounds in 1 month.
That’s it! Now that you have all the information about goal-setting, how about revisiting those 2017 resolutions? Let us know what you goal is in the comments below!
Marilyne Petitclerc, nutritionist for over 6 years and author of the menoum.co blog. Passionate about healthy eating and sports nutrition, she’s a great source for advice to help you lead a balanced lifestyle.