Set a Goal for Better Health

Set a Goal for Better Health

Posted by Joel Pelina on Jan 14th 2022

At the beginning of every year, one of the most common resolutions that people make is to improve their health. Resolutions like, “lose weight” or “eat healthier” or “exercise more.” How many people manage to follow through on those resolutions? How many people quickly give up? One of the reasons that many people so often fail to follow up on their health goals is that their goals need to be set the right way, and they need the right mindset both when setting those goals and following up on the actions needed to meet them.

Even before health goals can be set, you need to first assess your current level of health and fitness. You need to establish your baseline at the start of the year. While not every physical measurement may pertain to your specific fitness goal, it’s a good idea to get an overall gauge of your physical fitness level. Some useful body measurements you can easily take at the start of the year include:

  • Weight
  • Resting heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Waistline

There are several physical fitness measurements you can also take note of at the start of the year, depending on how active you are and what goals you are trying to accomplish. Some of these measurements include:

  • Number of push-ups in a minute or maximum continuous push-ups
  • Number of sit-ups in a minute or maximum continuous sit-ups
  • Time to run one mile
  • One-rep maximum weight you can lift


Once you have recorded a starting set of data for your physical health and fitness level, figure out what kind of health goal or goals you would like to accomplish. Start with a general goal, then break that down into more specific goals so that you can develop an action plan to accomplish those goals.

General goals can be fairly broad, and can include examples such as:

  • Lose weight
  • Lose some inches from your waistline
  • Increase your upper body strength
  • Increase your cardiovascular health

Of course, general goals are just the start. The key is to refine those goals into SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

What does that mean? Let’s break it down, using the example of “losing weight.”

  • Specific: This means that the goal needs to be clearly defined. “Losing weight” is not a clearly defined goal. A more specific goal would instead be, “lose 20 pounds.”
  • Measurable: A measurable goal is one that can be tracked with specific numbers or other metrics. For example, after you measure your weight at the beginning of the year, measure your weight a month or two later to see how far along you are toward your goal of losing 20 pounds.
  • Achievable: An achievable goal is one that is realistic to accomplish within a certain timeframe. Using the current example, starting at 200 pounds at the beginning of the year, with a goal to lose 20 pounds by the end of year, is an achievable goal. Starting at 300 pounds at the beginning of the year, with a goal to lose 120 pounds by the end of the year, is not only an unrealistic goal but also an unhealthy goal.
  • Relevant: A relevant goal is one that can be accomplished based on your resources, health, and lifestyle. A relevant goal takes into account the greater context of your life situation. Let’s say you decide to work toward losing those 20 pounds by going to the gym 5 times a week. Do you have the free time to commit to that kind of schedule? Do you have the money in your budget for a gym membership? What if you have children that you need to take care of after work? What if you can’t fit a gym membership or exercise equipment into the budget? A relevant goal is one that can be achieved factoring in your current health, finances, work, and home life.
  • Timely: A timely goal is one with a clearly defined timeframe to reach that goal. Losing 20 pounds “whenever” gives you the unfortunate ability to put off the work needed to reach that goal. Setting a goal to lose 20 pounds by a specific date – let’s say, March 31 – gives you the urgency and motivation to work toward that goal before the time limit is reached.

Once you have set your general, SMART goal, break the goal down into smaller sections, and then focus on one sub-goal at a time. Think about all the smaller things that can be done to reach both your larger goal and sub-goals. Let’s do that with the “lose 20 pounds” goal:

  • Lose 20 pounds in 3 months (12 weeks)
    • Lose 1.7 pounds a week
      • Reduce caloric intake
      • Exercise more
  • Measure weight at the end of each week

So you can see that breaking 20 pounds down on a per-week basis averages to about 1.7 pounds a week. To do that, you need to do a combination of reducing calories and exercising more. Let’s break those sub-goals down into smaller parts:

  • Reduce caloric intake
    • Find out your “baseline” caloric intake, based on your weight and lifestyle. This can be calculated by multiplying your body weight by 11, and then adding an additional 15% (sedentary, e.g., sitting for work), 35% (lightly active, e.g., walking or standing for work), 45% (moderately active, e.g., light physical labor for work, such an electrician), 75% (very active, e.g., factory or farm workers), or 100% (extremely active, e.g., personal trainer or professional athlete) on top of that.
      • Our 200-pound example, if they sit and work at a desk all day (sedentary) would then need to eat (200 x 11) x 1.15 calories a day, or 2,530 calories daily, to maintain their weight.
    • Generally, cutting 500 calories a day can make you lose 1 pound a week in weight. So to lose 1.7 pounds a week, your goal would be to cut 850 calories a day (500 x 1.7).
    • Therefore, to lose 1.7 pounds a week, you can set a goal to eat 2,530 calories minus 850 calories, or 1,680 calories a day maximum.
  • Exercise more
    • The reduction in daily caloric intake can be offset by using exercise to make up the difference.
    • At 200 pounds, a 60-minute walk can burn about 250 calories. So if you spend 30 minutes walking, you would burn 125 calories. Given this, instead of trimming 850 calories out of your daily diet, you can instead trim 725 calories from your daily food intake each day you walk for a half hour.

Of course, measuring your weight at the end of each week lets you keep track of your progress, encouraging you to keep going, or motivating you to work harder.

Once you know how to find you baseline, set a large goal, refine that goal, and break it down into manageable chunks, the key then is to stay motivated, stay positive, and to rely on others to support your efforts. Motivation is helped simply by tracking your efforts in smaller increments to see how you’re working toward your goal. Staying positive can be more difficult at times, but it is very important to allow you to stay focused on your overall goal, and your reasons for wanting to reach that goal. Relying on others for support can be as simple as letting your friends and family know what you’re working toward, so that they can encourage you and help keep you focused and motivated. Even better, set a goal with a friend or family member, and work together toward those goals, supporting each other in the process.

When you set a goal for health properly, by making it SMART, and by breaking it down into more manageable parts, you have a much better chance to reach that goal, improving your health and your self-esteem. Regarding the previous weight-loss example, remember that water is essential to weight loss, not just to stay hydrated during exercise or for proper metabolism, but as a terrific calorie-free substitute for soft drinks or fruit juices. And, no one offers better water for better health than Multipure. For Life. For You.

References

  1. “How Fit Are You? See How You Measure Up.” Mayo Clinic. February 7, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20046433
  2. “How Many Calories Do You Burn Each Day?” Outside. January 19, 2010. https://www.outsideonline.com/health/nutrition/how-many-calories-do-you-burn-each-day/
  3. “How to Set SMART Fitness Goals.” Sweat. June 16, 2020. https://www.sweat.com/blogs/life/goal-setting
  4. McCoy, Jenna. “How to Set Realistic Fitness Goals You’ll Actually Achieve, According to Top Trainers.” SELF. January 3, 2019. https://www.self.com/story/how-to-set-realistic-fitness-goals
  5. “Setting Your Goals for Fitness.” WebMD. Last accessed January 14, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/setting-goals-fitness#1
  6. Vann, Madeline. “How to Lose 50 Pounds.” Everyday Health. April 7, 2009. https://www.everydayhealth.com/weight/how-to-lose-50-pounds.aspx