By: Cecilia Chen, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor
“I will eat a lot of fruit and vegetables…”
“I will exercise more…”
“I will never skip breakfast again…”
“I will go to bed before 12 am…”
“… but I never did.”
Do any of the above statements sound familiar to you? College life can be stressful when you need to balance your social life, academics, and health. Often times, students will compromise health because they do not have enough time for things like meal prep, working out and sleep. When a new quarter starts, do you find yourself vowing to eat healthy or exercise more. Maybe you have tried going to the gym for a week when the quarter first starts, but midterms come up, and you never go back. Then, you feel bad about yourself and not achieving your health goal. How could you set up lifestyle change goals differently?
Instead of setting long-term goals, break down the goal into little steps that are more manageable and trackable. We call this SMART goal setting. Building SMART goals about your health consists of five components: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
- Specific: Being specific about your goals means you need to consider who, what, where, why and how.
- Who will make this change?
- What do you want to change, and what is your plan?
- Where will your plan be carried out?
- Why do you want to make the change?
- How often will you make the change?
- Measurable: Your goals need to be measurable because it is easier to track how you are doing when it can be measured with a specific number. For example, your goal can be to cook dinner two times per week or meet with the nutrition peer counselors once a week.
- Attainable: Attainable means realistic. Is your goal something within your capability and not out of your reach? Setting your goal to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day is unrealistic if you barely eat any now!
- Relevant: Is your goal related to what you value in life? Will achieving this goal make a meaningful change?
- Timely: Set a specific timeline for your goals can be helpful. For example, if going to the gym for the next month seems a bit challenging, you can set your goal to go to the gym two times during the next week. See how it works; adjust as necessary. Again, be specific in how you’ll carry out the change.
Instead of saying, “I want to be healthy,” say, “I will eat an apple for breakfast this Friday,” or “I will go to the gym at least two times this week.” Setting up your SMART goals can not only help you actually achieve your goal but also improve your sense of confidence.
Now it is your turn. Work on a SMART goal today and let us know how it goes!
“10 ‘SMART’ Healthy Eating Goals.” 10 “SMART” Healthy Eating Goals – Unloc Food,www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Weight-Loss/10-SMART%E2%80%9D-Healthy-Eating-Goals.aspx
IU, Positive Outcomes for Women. “How to Make SMART Nutrition and Physical Activity Goals for Your New Year’s Resolution.” POW IU, 2 Jan. 2018, pursuinghealthi ness.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/how-to-make-smart-nutrition-and-physical-activity-goals-for-your-new-years-resolution/.