Eating healthy

Dietitian Tips for Sticking with Your Health Goals

By: Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD

Considering setting a healthy new goal? It doesn’t just need to be the start of a new year to set a goal to make some changes. Creating a new goal can happen any time you want and opens the door to improvement across many aspects of our lives.

In a December 2019 Marist Poll, four of the top five New Year’s resolutions were related to health. These included: eating healthier (12%), exercising more (11%), losing weight (10%) and improving health (9%). And as demonstrated by the Food Industry Association’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2019 survey, participants reported that their primary food store is a top ally in their quest for wellness and what helps keep them healthy.

It may not come as a surprise, but not all new goals are kept (although an impressive 73% of respondents in the Marist Poll stated they kept their New Year’s resolutions). Many well-intentioned goals fall short on execution. As registered dietitians, we commonly see this struggle in our patients or customers and find instead that small behavior changes are what lead to big results.

A method called “SMART” goal-setting, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely, is one such method that incorporates small changes in the way we behave. Many of our Kroger Health providers have made New Year’s resolutions in the past and have now decided to take a more holistic approach to setting health goals any time of year.

Patient Care Technician Kara shares that something helping her achieve her goals, even while going to school and working, is to find things she enjoys doing so she’s more likely to stay with it. Nurse Practitioner (NP) Amanda agrees and adds, “If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to do it. Get serious about it.” Amanda finds a lot of success in planning, organizing and writing down goals to remind herself of what she needs to achieve.

NP Elaine says she purposefully doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions and prefers to continually reflect and try to improve herself. And Pharmacist Laura gets that. Laura doesn’t like making short-term New Year’s resolutions and instead tries to stay healthy and be a better version of herself with every passing day. Similar to Elaine and Laura’s strategies, time-management expert Laura Vanderkam suggests considering quarterly goals rather than annual resolutions as a way of perpetually refining ourselves.

Setting SMART health goals makes them more achievable and therefore positive and encouraging. Do you have a health goal you want to accomplish? What’s one habit you can begin in the next month toward accomplishing it? Try for specific, small, measurable goals and the reward of attaining them will encourage you forward.

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