May Your Goals For The New Year Be SMART Ones!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - HEALTH -

An­other end of year is upon us and we turn our minds to the won­der­ful things that 2019 has in store for us. It’s the time when we pon­der what needs to change in our lives, when we set New Year’s res­o­lu­tions while solemnly promis­ing our­selves, as usual, to keep them this time. We set our sights on good health, wealth and hap­pi­ness but by the end of Jan­uary most of our good in­ten­tions have al­ready fallen by the way­side. So just how do we make res­o­lu­tions that we will keep? The an­swer is to think SMART! Now I am not say­ing you are not in­tel­li­gent, so, be­fore you come for me, read on.

Set­ting SMART goals is a good way to set re­al­is­tic, achiev­able goals that we can keep:

Spe­cific – Make it clear, to help you keep your fo­cus.

Mea­sur­able – Set goals that you can track and that help keep you mo­ti­vated.

Achiev­able – Some­times these can be set to push be­yond your cur­rent abil­i­ties but not so am­bi­tious that they are hard to achieve.

Rel­e­vant – Smaller goals that will help you achieve the fi­nal goal.

Timed – The long-term tar­get date for reach­ing your fi­nal goal.

If you have de­cided that 2019 is the year you’ll get fit and pay more at­ten­tion to your health, be more spe­cific. Get­ting fit is vague and it is harder to achieve goals that can’t be mea­sured and mon­i­tored. So in­stead, de­cide what you want to achieve. Do you want to change to a health­ier diet? Do you want to be able to climb the stairs with­out get­ting out of breath? Or do you want to be able to climb the Pi­tons, or run a marathon? Once you have de­cided what you want, you need to set your­self small goals to be able to achieve that one big goal. Break it down into bite-size pieces.

If your goal is to lose weight, first de­cide: do you need to lose a cer­tain amount of weight or do you want to fit into that favourite out­fit you bought last sum­mer? This is vi­tal if you want to see re­sults that keep you mo­ti­vated and mov­ing for­ward. If your goal is to lose weight to achieve the per­fect BMI, then choose your ex­er­cise plan wisely. Re­mem­ber that lift­ing weights will help you tone but can also in­crease your weight; mus­cles weigh more than fat. If your goal is to lose inches, throw away the scales and use a tape mea­sure in­stead. If you want to lose weight, aim for about one to two pounds per week. More than that may be detri­men­tal to health. The per­fect com­bi­na­tion to achieve this is a healthy diet, aer­o­bic and weight train­ing ex­er­cises. The best com­bi­na­tion will de­pend upon your fi­nal goal.

Maybe you want to give up smok­ing. Smok­ing is an ad­dic­tion and not a choice, no mat­ter what you tell your­self, and giv­ing it up is no easy task. Around the world there are helplines and apps to help you kick the habit. Sci­en­tists have even iden­ti­fied var­i­ous meth­ods, ap­pli­ca­ble to dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. Some peo­ple just de­cide to stop while oth­ers need to grad­u­ally wean off. To make it eas­ier there are patches and gums. Some peo­ple even look to coun­selling, hyp­no­sis and acupunc­ture. The key is to keep busy and avoid trig­gers. So you might de­cide to take up a new hobby or start to ex­er­cise, spend time with non-smoker friends or visit the cin­ema where smok­ing is not per­mit­ted. Re­mem­ber to throw away your cig­a­rettes and lighters.

Maybe af­ter one hang­over too many you’ll want to stop drink­ing. But hang­overs aren’t the only rea­son to want to quit al­co­hol. Maybe you have a se­ri­ous health con­di­tion, or you are on med­i­ca­tion; you may even feel you have de­vel­oped an un­healthy de­pen­dency. What­ever the rea­son, it may take a lot of pa­tience and willpower. Some peo­ple find it eas­ier to grad­u­ally cut down on their daily in­take while oth­ers pre­fer to quit com­pletely.

First, let us look at what is the safe daily/weekly al­co­hol con­sump­tion. Be­cause of the sup­posed health ben­e­fits, it is al­ways easy to find an ex­cuse to drink. Be strong and, if you want to quit, well, just do it. Giv­ing up al­co­hol, like smok­ing, is best done if you avoid places where you could be tempted to im­bibe. In­stead of hav­ing that glass of wine in front of the TV, re­place it with a fresh, healthy fruit juice or a cup of tea. In­stead of go­ing to the bar af­ter work to un­wind af­ter a long hec­tic day, head in­stead to the gym.

Re­mem­ber to set your­self goals, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly ba­sis, and make the goals re­al­is­tic. Maybe your goal is just to be hap­pier and en­joy life more. Start each day by giv­ing thanks and find­ing things you are grate­ful for. In a world where we are sur­rounded by doom and gloom, this can seem a daunt­ing task some­times, but just wak­ing up is a won­der­ful rea­son to smile and start the day on a pos­i­tive note. If you look hard enough, you can al­ways find rea­sons to be grate­ful! What­ever your res­o­lu­tions for 2019, set SMART goals and stick with them for a hap­pier, health­ier New Year.

Kim Jack­son is a UK-trained phys­io­ther­a­pist with over 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence. She spe­cialises in mus­cu­loskele­tal pain and dys­func­tion in­clud­ing back pain and sci­at­ica, stroke and other neuro con­di­tions plus sports phys­io­ther­apy, hav­ing worked with lo­cal, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional ath­letes and teams treat­ing in­juries and analysing biome­chan­ics to im­prove func­tion and per­for­mance. She is reg­is­tered with the Al­lied Health Coun­cil and is a mem­ber of PASL. She cur­rently works at Bay­side Ther­apy Ser­vices in Rod­ney Bay, O: 458 4409 or C: 284 5443; www.bayside­ther­a­py­ser­

With every new year come some un­re­al­is­tic res­o­lu­tions but, by be­ing SMART, you may be sur­prised what you achieve in 2019.

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