Get SMART: a Five-step Process for Long-term Lifestyle Changes - Mercy Medical Center

Get SMART: a Five-step Process for Long-term Lifestyle Changes

Posted on: April 25, 2013

Do you find it difficult to reach or maintain health related goals? After you have achieved your original weight loss goal, do you find that you stop prioritizing it and regain the weight – causing you to have to start all over again, creating a cycle?

When we make lifestyle changes, like with diet and exercise habits, we have a tendency to make a short-term change until we meet our goal and then fall back into old habits. This may happen because those old behaviors are comfortable, easy or enjoyable! However, the only way to make successful long term health changes is to approach your lifestyle change as a continual process, not a one-time-only event.

Here are 5 simple steps to aid you in achieving a successful long-term lifestyle change!

  1. Recognize a need for change. Do you currently have a health condition, or are at risk for developing one? Is running a marathon on your bucket list? Or do you just want to look great at the beach this summer? There are many reasons for wanting to make a lifestyle change, and none of them mean that what you are currently doing is wrong – only that it may be improved.
  2. Establish a goal. When making goals, remember that many small, short term goals lead to larger, long term goals. Psychologist Paul Meyer has developed the acronym SMART to help you create good goals. Keep these in mind when creating your health goals!
    • Specific – Answer questions “how”, “when” and “where”
    • Measurable – Use numbers to easily measure your accomplishments
    • Achievable – Are your goals attainable? Remember to start small!
    • Realistic – Is this reasonable for you at your PRESENT circumstances? Making an unrealistic goal may set you up for failure.
    • Timely – Goals should be met within a time period, to give you structure.
  3. Adopt a goal-directed activity. What steps are needed to reach the goal? Identify any environmental, social or resource barriers and brainstorm creative ways to overcome them.
  4. Share your goal…with a spouse, friend or loved one! This creates accountability and makes meeting the goal more fun.
  5. Reward yourself. Once you have made progress on or met your goal, celebrate your accomplishments! Remember, food should never be used as a reward – some ideas for rewards include taking a vacation, going shopping for goal related items like new running shoes, or spending a day at the spa or on the golf course!

Remember, change occurs gradually. Start with small changes, and be prepared for relapses. Returning to old behaviors is normal, and you do not need to let it sabotage your long term goals!

Mercy Weight Management, based in Canton, Ohio, is here to help you achieve your weight loss goals. For more information about Mercy Weight Management programs, call 330-588-4854.  

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