To help ensure weight loss and fitness results you must set goals.

Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals? SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Your goal must incorporate each category. We’ll break them down one by one and give you a few examples.

Specific – Your goal must be specific. “I want to lose weight” is not a goal. That’s simply a wish. But, “I want to lose 18 pounds” is a specific goal. Now we know where you are (your current weight) and where you want to go (your current weight minus 18 lbs.).

Measurable – Goals must have some form of measurement. Weight is easy. You step on the scale, and then you step off the scale. What about getting in shape? How do you measure that? Maybe it’s walking up a flight of steps without panting. Maybe it’s to run 30 minutes without stopping. Whatever it is, make sure your goal can be measured.

Attainable – Keeping a foot in reality is important. For instance, maybe a goal “To make it in the NBA” would not be realistic (no matter how much you would like it to be :). You’d be setting yourself up for failure. Make your goal aggressive, but attainable.

Realistic – This one is somewhat like attainable. Losing 30 lbs. in 30 days is not realistic. Nor is it safe! Give your goals some boundaries. When setting health and fitness goals you must keep physiologic abilities in mind. When losing weight, 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week is a safe estimate, but having a resting heart rate of 30 or doing 1000 pushups in a minute is not realistic.

Timely – Last but certainly not least. I heard someone say once, “Nothing would ever happen without a deadline.” And you know what? It’s true. Without a deadline or some sort of timeline, the chances of follow through are slim to none. Adding a time element creates a sense of urgency. Going back to the goal of “I want to lose 18 lbs,” adding “in 12 weeks” now gives you your deadline. Always, always, always have a deadline.

Goal setting is always our first step when setting up a health and fitness program. A SMART goal is one that works. Take out a pen and paper now and write down some goals. Make sure each one includes each category.