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Finally it is a new year and we can put 2020 behind us! If you set goals at the beginning of last year, many of those plans/goals probably did not happen due to the covid pandemic. That is ok – everyone is in the same boat. Setting goals is important for many reasons. Taking care of your health and your body is all up to one person – you! No one else can do it for you. Everyone makes choices all day long. Do those choices bring you closer or push you further away from better health?

Setting goals can help you stay on track and motivated. However, goals need to be realistic, specific, and measurable as opposed to something vague or impossible. Having a goal that is too broad can make achieving that goal seem daunting and difficult. How will you know if you succeeded if you don’t have a clear finish line? How will you reach your goal if you have no guidelines? In order to reach your goal, you need to know what steps to take to achieve it. Many people have goals to lose weight. However, changes need to happen to achieve that goal. These changes are unique to each individual, depending on their lifestyle. Think about what specific changes need to occur in order to reach your overall long term goal of weight loss.

Think about your health and your daily habits. Here are a few probing questions with examples to get you thinking:

  • What is a short term goal that will help me ultimately reach my long term goal?
    (Example: Not skipping breakfast will help me achieve weight loss in the long run) 
  • Why am I choosing this goal?
    (Example: When I skip breakfast, I overeat at lunch or I choose unhealthy options because I am starving) 
  • What change(s) would help me reach this goal?
    (Example: Purchasing healthy breakfast options that are quick and easy to have in the morning like a protein shake, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, or oatmeal, and waking up 5 minutes earlier to give myself time to grab/eat items)
  • How confident am I on a scale of 1-5 (1= low confidence, 5= high confidence) that I can make this change?
  • Why haven’t I made this change before?
    (Example: I’m not usually hungry in the mornings, sometimes I don’t have enough time or I am rushing and forget to grab something to eat) 
  • What part(s) about making this change will be hard for me? What will get in my way?
    (Example: Getting used to eating something in the morning when I’m not hungry, remembering to purchase breakfast items when grocery shopping, and remembering to eat something when I have a busy morning) 
  • What can I do to overcome these challenges?
    (Example: I will start out small to get my stomach accustomed to eating breakfast and I will make sure I don’t eat late in the evening so that I am hungrier in the mornings)

Now let’s make a plan. To change a habit, try to make a plan that is realistic and specific. Sometimes it can be easier to set shorter term goals each week, rather than longer term goals. For each goal you have, think about these four things.

  1. How long will you try to achieve this goal?
  2. Is it easy to incorporate to your daily life?
  3. Is it specific/detailed?
  4. How often will you do this?

Not Specific = “I will eat less so I can lose weight”

Specific = “Instead of filling half my dinner plate with rice/pasta, I will only fill a quarter of it, and add more vegetables to my plate at least 3 times this week”

This is a specific example of an action you will do that will help you eat less so that you will ultimately reach your broader goal of losing weight. It also outlines how often you plan to make this change.

Not Realistic = “I will go to the gym every day after work”

Realistic = “I will ease into physical activity by working out on my days off (2 times/week) when I have more time and energy”

Once you feel you have achieved your goal and it has become a habit, set new goals to work towards until you achieve your larger, long term goal.  It takes time and patience to develop new healthy habits, but making a plan and sticking to it as best as you can will help you get where you want to be in the long run. Nobody is perfect, life can get in the way of our plans sometimes but don’t throw in the towel just because you didn’t succeed at your first attempt. Tomorrow is a new day to start fresh and try again.  Hopefully this year will be the year that you create realistic goals that will motivate you. You can do it!!

Before beginning any diet or exercise program, you should check with your doctor. Garnet Health Doctors are available for tele-health or in-person appointments by calling 845-333-7575.

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Carley Baulick MS, RDN, CDN
By Carley Baulick MS, RDN, CDN
Bariatric Dietitian Educator

Carley Baulick, MS, RDN, CDN is Garnet Health Medical Center’s Bariatric Dietitian Educator. She received her Bachelor’s and Master of Science Degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics from the State University of New York College at Oneonta. She is a Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist, holds an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management, and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Carley is passionate about nutrition and helping others reach their health and wellness goals through individualized counseling and nutrition education. Carley can be reached at (845) 333-4730 or cbaulick@garnethealth.org.

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