Weight Management: Act SMART

SMART goalsI commonly ask some of my clients, “What is the biggest thing you’ve learned?” Most of them appear to have learned something in common, and that one thing they consider valuable is that I have taught them how to make SMART goals. While initially I find it surprising, when I think about it, it’s not. If you haven’t heard of it, I highly recommend paying attention as it can be one of the key items that helps your weight management clientele succeed in the short and long-term.

In life, we make goals. “I’m going to start running this week,” we say. How easy is it to procrastinate that? We never mention when we’re going to run, or where we’re going to run, we just said, “We’re going to run this week.” Because of this, we have all the way to the last hour of the week to begin running. What are the chances of that goal being complete? Let me break down what a SMART goal is:

  • S: Specific. The goal needs to be as detailed as possible. You want to eat vegetables … what specific vegetables do you plan on eating? You want to exercise … okay, what specific exercise are you going to do? Are you going to run? Walk? Take a Zumba class?
  • M: Measurable. Put some numbers on it. You want to drink more water, but how much water? One cup, three cups, five cups a day?
  • A: Action-oriented. This can mean the goal is stated in a way that means you’re going to do it, versus you may consider doing it. So instead of starting a goal out with, “I should,” or “I may,” start it off with “I will.”
  • R: Realistic. When you look at the goal written, ask if it’s something that can actually be achieved. If you’re making a goal of exercising everyday, and never exercised a day in your life, is that realistic? Something I ask clients is to rate their confidence on the achievability of a goal from 0-10 (10 being the most confident). If it’s any less than a 7-8, I normally I ask them to modify the goal until they’re confident it can be achieved.
  • T: Timely. Put some dates and times on it, if possible. You want to do something this week — what days? What times? Sunday? 3 P.M.?

You may see variations of what a SMART goal is, but the point is for the goal to be detailed and elaborate. Which goal do you think a client would be more apt to do: “I may workout this week,” or “I will do the elliptical for 20 minutes this week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4 P.M. at your gym.” You can keep them accountable on both goals, but it’s even easier to keep the client accountable on the specific goal, as once Monday passes, you can call them straight up and ask, “Any luck!?”

How can you add SMART goals to your weight management interventions?

 

Jamal Thruston is a certified personal trainer in Louisville, Ky., who specializes in weight management, behavioral change and health coaching. For questions, e-mail Jamal at jamalthruston@gmail.com or visit www.jamalthruston.com

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