How to Create SMART Health Goals for 2022

Here Are a Few to Consider

3 in 5 Americans experienced an unwanted weight change since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual report.

Let’s face it: 2020 wasn’t a good year for our mental, physical, or emotional health, and 2021 hasn’t been much better. While New Year’s resolutions tend to stick as well as oil on teflon, it never hurts to have goals for the new year. 

Now that 2022 is around the corner, it’s time to make some SMART health goals. If you need inspiration, we’re including three sample goals just for you: 

What are SMART Health Goals?

SMART is an acronym often used in work settings. It stands for:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Time-Bound

Setting a SMART goal increases your chance of actually achieving your goal, because you’re clearly defining what you want to do, how, and when you want to accomplish it—all while remaining realistic. 

Saying you want to lose weight isn’t a SMART health goal. Saying you want to lose 40 pounds in six months by following a more nutritious diet, regularly working out, and cutting down on your alcohol intake—that’s a SMART health goal. 

Getting In-Depth with SMART

Let’s break down each aspect of a SMART goal to show you how they’re effective:

Specific

Your goal must be precise and concise. The clearer you are about your SMART health goal, the better. Wanting to lose weight isn’t a specific goal, but wanting to lose 40 pounds is.

When you specify your goal, ask yourself the following:

What do I want to achieve? 

How can I achieve it?

Who can help me achieve this goal?

What support can I enlist to accomplish my goal?

Measurable

Don’t set and forget your specific goal. You need to track your progress, otherwise you won’t know how you’re performing. Achieving your goal isn’t simply about getting to the finish line, it’s about reaching all the milestones along the way.

If you’re seeking to lose 40 pounds in six months (or 26 weeks), that equates to roughly 1.54 pounds a week, or 6.66 pounds a month. Since weight loss is quantifiable, you have built in milestones needed for achieving your goal. You’ll want to lose either 1.54 pounds a week, or 6.66 pounds a month. 

When measuring your goals, you also have to be realistic. If you’re going on a cruise during this six month period, you’re much less likely to lose weight that week than a regular week. If your goal while on your cruise is to break even, you’ll have to adjust your milestones accordingly. 

Achievable

Your SMART health goal must be attainable. If it isn’t, you’re going to wear yourself out or feel defeated when you’ve failed to accomplish your goal. 

Losing 40 pounds in three months is unrealistic. You may lose multiple pounds your first week, but after that it’s usually only healthy to lose one or two pounds a week. Losing 40 pounds in six months is much more achievable, and 1.54 pounds a week falls right in that healthy weight loss zone. 

Relevant

Your goal must exist within the bounds of your reality. You must have access to the resources, knowledge, and time required to achieve this goal. Also, you should be able to answer your why. 

Why do you want to lose 40 pounds? Are you getting married in six months? Will it bring you back to the weight you were five years ago? Did you just get out of an awful relationship and aspiring to have a revenge bod?

Understanding your why will give you a proverbial North Star to look to when the going gets tough, like those weeks when you discover you’ve gained a pound instead of losing one. 

Time-Bound

If you don’t set a time limit to achieve your goal, you’ll have a much harder time achieving it. 

If your goal is to lose weight in six months, you have milestones to follow and extra motivation, especially if you’re rewarding yourself for crossing the finish line. Deciding to lose 40 pounds “whenever” takes some motivation away. You won’t have the weekly milestones to follow or the time-limit to achieve your goal. 

Striving to lose 40 pounds in six months is an excellent SMART health goal. If weight loss is your resolution, you can adjust how much weight you want to lose and when you want to lose it by using the metrics mentioned thus far. 

Here are three other SMART health goals to consider:

Run a Half Marathon

The Marathon Handbook states that a newbie runner can get half marathon ready in three-to-four months. Give yourself some breathing room and make it five, just to be certain. Here’s how this translates into a SMART health goal:

Running a Half Marathon

Specific

You want to run a half-marathon in five months (for extra credit, select the half-marathon you want to run in).

Measurable

Some milestones can include: 

  • Running a full mile without stopping in a month.
  • Running your first 5k within two months
  • Running/walking a half marathon in three months
  • Running your first 10 within four months
  • Running the half marathon in five months

Achievable

Yes. According to experts, newbie runners can train to run a half marathon in 15-16 weeks. 

Relevant

Why do you want to run a half marathon? Here are a few possible reasons:

  • You want to be healthier
  • Your partner is a runner and you want to bond with them
  • You used to run track in high school and miss it 

Time-Bound

Five months, or the date of the half-marathon you’re choosing to run in 

Eat Healthier

Eating healthier is a bit more complicated, because it’s not immediately as quantifiable as losing weight or running a marathon. You have to define what “eating healthier” means to you in a quantifiable way. Here’s an example:

Eat Healthier

Specific

You want to eat three servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and reduce your sugar intake.

Measurable

Some milestones can include:

  • Eating three servings of fruits and vegetables every day for three days.
  • Eating three servings of fruits and vegetables every day for a week.
  • Eating three servings of fruits and vegetables every day for a month.
  • Going a week without a candy bar
  • Losing your sugar craving entirely

Achievable

This is achievable, but it requires changing your eating habits. That requires research and practice.

Relevant

Why do you want to eat healthier? Here are a few possible reasons:

  • You have high blood sugar
  • Heart disease runs in your family
  • You had a health scare this year, and it’s time to make a change

Time-Bound

The timeframe here is a little tricky. You can technically start this resolution on day one. Maintaining is a different story, however. One time-bound goal is that you want to eat three servings of fruits and vegetables every day consistently for three months. 

Build Muscle Mass

Let’s suppose you want to put on ten pounds of lean muscle mass in ten weeks. Bodybuilding.com believes you can do it in eight, but let’s shoot for ten. 

Building Muscle Mass

Specific

Gain ten pounds of lean muscle mass. 

Measurable

You can usually measure your muscle mass at a gym or with an at-home scale. If you’re looking to gain ten pounds of lean muscle in ten weeks, your milestones should be roughly one pound per week. 

Achievable

Yes, if you follow the schedule laid out by bodybuilding.com, and make small adjustments as needed. 

Relevant

Why do you want to build muscle mass? Here are a few potential reasons:

  • You want to be rocking a “summer bod”
  • You think you’re too skinny 
  • You’ve been going to the gym for years and haven’t seen any results

Time-Bound

You want to gain ten pounds of lean muscle mass in ten weeks. Better get to it!

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