New year, new you? All year you have drunk, smoked and eaten way too much, but tomorrow is the 1st of January and at midnight the health fairy will arrive and turn you into an organic, yoga goddess and pillar of good health, right? Wrong!!

‘Transformations’ to good health don’t happen overnight – even if it’s New Year’s Eve. They take a change in lifestyle, a shift in mind set and the gradual development of new healthier habits to replace your old ‘not-so-healthy’ ways.

Does this mean you shouldn’t bother making a New Year’s Resolution? Not necessarily. A new year’s resolution is often great motivation to make some positive changes to your life and people who explicitly set a new year’s resolution are ten times more likely to achieve it than those who don’t. (1)

The key to this success is ensuring you do in fact set an explicit goal as opposed to a whimsical hope. Don’t think of the 1st of January as a definitive point from which you will never repeat your ‘unhealthy’ ways but think of it as the day you will put into action a well thought-out plan to change your lifestyle, shift your mindset and develop new healthy habits.

So get out a piece of paper and let’s get SMART – that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and within a Timeframe. These are the key components of an explicit goal that lead to success.

Be Specific: Rather than simply resolving to ‘lose weight,’ ‘be healthy, ’‘get fit,’ or ‘eat better,’ decide exactly what you want to achieve, how you are going to achieve it, and, why it is important to you. Does “getting fit” mean you will be able to run a marathon or bench press 100kg? If you plan to lose weight, will you change your diet, your exercise levels or both?

Make it Measurable: Adding a quantifiable element to your resolution will allow you to track your progress. If ‘weight loss’ is you ultimate goal, think beyond the numbers on the scale. Try taking measurements of your waist, thighs, and upper arm; use the notches on your belt; or how well your clothes fit. Also include nutrition and fitness goals within your weight loss plan. Even if the numbers on the scale haven’t changed much, if you can see you have increased the number of push-ups you can do, or how long you can run for without stopping, you will know you are making progress and will have incentive to keep going.

Is it Achievable? Don’t sabotage yourself – consider your resources, time, support and the amount of effort that will be required to achieve your goals. Running 20km five times a week might be a great goal, but for most of us this simply isn’t achievable.

Keep in mind your strengths and weaknesses, and reward yourself when you achieve goals and milestones (not with food or other counterproductive activity) and have an action plan set for when you come across hurdles.

Be Realistic: about what you are going to achieve and how long it will take to achieve it – a healthy lifestyle is not a race. Don’t set yourself up for failure by depriving yourself of the things you love – it’s OK to have chocolate on occasions, just not the whole block.

Set the Timeframe – remember you want to make long term, sustainable changes to achieve your resolution and a healthy lifestyle. Setting goals and milestones to achieve at regular intervals will help keep you on track.

Visit The Kids Menu for more on SMART goal setting

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