Many people start the new year with resolutions for improving their health and then, as January progresses, find themselves falling off the wagon. If this sounds like you, it might be worth starting over. Experts say you’re much likelier to stick to a resolution if it’s SMART: specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Let’s say you wanted to start running. Here’s how a SMART resolution could keep you on track and even help you create a new habit.
Instead of saying, “I’m going to run to get in shape,” say: “I’m going to run a 5K in six months.”
A specific goal will help you measure your progress on the way to success. If you’re a new runner with a 5K goal, your continued progress can be measured by gains in mileage, consistency of running and ease of breathing during runs. This will help you adjust your efforts to be ready for that race.
To use an apt phrase, don’t try to run before you can walk. Complete a 5K and establish a regular running routine before deciding on a longer event like a marathon! To keep yourself motivated, enlist support from friends and family. You’ll have a cheering section plus accountability.
Pick something you like or want to do! Using the example of a 5K, find one that raises money for an organization you support. If you have a specific condition, the corresponding organization often has an event for fundraising and publicity. Examples in our area include the Western Washington Take Steps Run/Walk for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation in June (we’ll be there!), and the Swedish SummeRun and Walk for Ovarian Cancer in July.
Have an end date in mind to help you stay focused on the process as well as the goal. Schedule your workouts – research has found that you’re more likely to get them done this way. Some days you may feel like it’s “two steps forward, one step back,” but try to be patient as you progress. Keep going as you establish your new habit. After completing your first 5K, you may find yourself wanting to set a personal record in your next one!
If you’d like help establishing a fitness goal, talk to your health care provider about where you should start. You can find a Swedish provider here. Or call 1-800-793-3474 and we can help find the right provider for you.