May is here, and with it brings the advent of summer…and bathing suit season. You’ve been watching the scale move in the right direction on your medical weight loss plan, but maybe you’d also like to tone up a bit. With just a little effort each day, you can see a difference in your muscle tone, and look better in shorts, tank tops, and—yes—even your bathing suit.
This week we’ll kick off the challenge with a focus on how to set appropriate goals. Here’s a quick and easy way to help you set a goal you can stick to and attain—it’s called the SMART method. In general, any goal you set should be SMART:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time-bound
Let’s look at each of these in a bit more depth:
Specific—This means you lay out a detailed description of your goal. For example, ‘I’m going to complete a walking program…’ instead of ‘I’m going to exercise more.’
Measurable—Make goals where your progress can be easily assessed. For example, ‘I’m going to complete a walking program and each week I’m going to walk X miles.’
Achievable—Are you really capable of attaining your goal, given your current schedule, commitments, and fitness level? For example, if you’re only able to devote a half-hour a day five days a week to walking, you should not say ‘I’m going to complete a walking program and each week I’m going to walk 20 miles.’ (This works out to a 7-minute mile—faster than many runners!) Instead, you might say ‘I’m going to complete a walking program and each week I’m going to walk 10 miles’ (which works out to a 14-minute mile, which is a brisk walking speed).
Realistic—Even if it’s attainable, is your goal really realistic? That is, is it something that will make you reach a bit, but not make you miserable? Consider the following goal: ‘I’m going to complete a walking program, and each week I’m going to walk 10 miles. I’m also going to give up caffeine during my walking program.’ This is probably not a realistic goal. Research shows that, for most people, smaller baby steps are a better way to reach larger goals. If you’re starting exercise for the first time, and you also crave your morning cup of coffee, trying to work on both at the same time will likely be overwhelming and may cause you to give up on both goals. Work on one part of your goal first, and then move on to another.
Time-Bound—This means you set specific time parameters for your goal. For example, ‘I’m going to complete a walking program, and each week for four weeks I’m going to walk 10 miles.’ This gives you a point at which you can assess your progress and decide to either recommit to your goal for another specific length of time or set a new goal. Without a time-bound commitment, you may feel like a slave to your goal. If so, you’ll never actually step back to see how you’re progressing and get the sense of achievement that keeps you motivated.
Now that you know a bit more about good goal-setting, we want you to set a goal for the Shape-Up Challenge. Each week for four weeks, we’re going to provide information on specific aspects of exercise, along with some toning exercises you can do on your own (with your physician’s clearance). But we’d like for you to set your own goal for this challenge and it should be related to getting more active. For example, if you’re just beginning exercise, your goal might be:
‘Over the next four weeks, I’m going to get fitted for proper sneakers and workout clothes, and learn the basics of exercise like warming up and cooling down.’
If you’ve exercised in the past but it’s been a while, you might say, ‘I’m going to complete a walking program, and each week for four weeks I’m going to walk 4 miles.’
Remember to make your goal SMART, and write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see it each day. And, as always, get your physician’s ok before starting or modifying an exercise program.
Find out 6 easy ways to exercise without a gym.
See how strength training can help with weight loss.
Find a center near you to schedule a consultation with a CMWL doctor.