This column was provided by registered dietitian Kristi Matthews.
The new year is a popular time to re-examine our current habits and make healthy lifestyle changes. An estimated 44% of Americans set personal goals this month, nearly half are health related.
I am a registered dietitian and health coach in Hollister and help people make healthy lifestyle changes. While goal setting can be exciting, there are a few SMART steps you can take to improve your chances of success. I have used this proven method with my clients, and recommend it to anyone who wants to create change in their lives.
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for the key points to remember when setting goals. This system provides structure and guidance throughout the process.
Specific: “I will eat a healthy diet” is too vague. Make it more specific like “I will eat more fruits and vegetables” or “I will eat less sugar”. Focus on no more than 3 goals at a time. Print your goals and post them in places you will see them and be reminded of your intentions.
Measurable: Your goals should include details that you can measure, like “I will eat 3 servings of fruits and vegetables each day” or “I will exercise 5 times this week”.
Attainable: Don’t pressure yourself into making extreme goals that are hard to reach. Start small and enjoy your success.
Realistic: You want to make sure your goal is something you can actually achieve, or you will only be disappointed and quit. For example, if you have 50 pounds to lose, start with a 10-pound goal. Also have a plan for what you’ll do when obstacles arise (and they likely will).
Time-Bound: Your goal should have a deadline, so that you can track your progress. I recommend you set monthly goals and track weekly. That way you have enough time to break the old habit and create new one. It helps to share your goals with a supportive friend or relative who will agree to follow up with you weekly on your progress.
Lastly, be sure to celebrate your success with a healthy reward. You’ve earned it!
HEALTHY LOCAL TIPS
Our county is brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. Some that are in season now include: winter squash, apples, arugula, beans, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, kale, lettuce, zucchini, and much more. Visit http://www.localfarmmarkets.org/CAmontereyfarmmarkets.php and https://www.localharvest.org/hollister-ca/farms for fresh local options. You can also have fresh, local organic foods delivered to you through CSA’s (community supported agriculture programs). Visit http://eatwiththeseasons.com/ for more information.
Signing up for an active event is a great motivator to stick with an exercise plan. Plus, it connects you with other health minded people. You can find local active events year-round with a variety of activities and levels. For example you can walk or run the Rotary Mission 10 in San Juan Bautista which is coming up on Jan. 27 and the proceeds go to charity. You can find information about what’s coming up by checking the calendar on BenitoLink, as well as other local sources, such as Mission Village Voice, Hollister Downtown Assoc., and San Juan Committee. If you prefer exercise to be a solitary experience, there are plenty of places to enjoy a nice hike, walk, or jog right here in San Bento County. Check out the “Walking San Benito” series by Jim Ostdick on BenitoLink, which features many walking opportunities. Here’s to the new year and to creating healthy habits!