By Richard Peatman, Pharm D, Meadow Vista Pharmacy
Here we go again. It's another new year, and we all like to think about making changes. This is a great time to plan on improving your health, losing weight, getting more exercise and spending more time with your family.
Before you take the plunge, check with your healthcare provider for goals that are reasonable for you. Start small, with one goal at a time, and make a solid plan. Remember: small changes really do add up. One way to be more effective is to create SMART goals. These are the elements of SMART goals:
• Specific. State exactly what you want to accomplish. Make sure your goal is not hard to understand. Getting fit is not a specific goal. Being able to run a 5K under 30 minutes is. Write down exactly what you plan to do as well as when and how often. Post it where you'll be sure to see it.
• Measurable. If a goal is measurable, you can evaluate your progress and know when you've succeeded. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you can check your body mass index (BMI) or see if you can get the zipper up on a smaller pair of pants.
• Attainable. Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds by your class reunion this summer. But seriously, now, is this really realistic? Instead, have a conversation with your health care provider about safe methods and rates of weight loss. Losing one pound a week might be more reasonable. Or, maybe you'd like to quit smoking cold turkey, but you know you need help. Today, there are many excellent medications that make it easy to stop. Get help!
• Relevant. Is this really a goal you're interested in? Or is it something a family member has foisted upon you? Make sure the steps you're taking will help you meet your specific goal.
• Time-bound. It's human nature to put things off. So remember to set specific deadlines. Try setting lots of shorter time-bound goals. This may make it easier to stay on track and reach your final destination.
You are also more likely to succeed if you are clear about why you want to make a particular change and know how it will benefit you. Also, identify your support system and ask for help when you need it. Unsure about what you should change? Friends, family and health professionals can offer advice but of course, it's all up to you. Need more motivation? Look to friends who have made significant changes for the better in their lives and use them as examples to encourage you. Remember, sometimes the smallest changes can greatly improve your life.