Want to Hit Your Health Goals? Think SMART!

WELLNESS--I just spent the weekend with my family and was reminded how each of us has different health and wellness goals and challenges. My sister is planning on losing 5 pounds where as my niece wants to stay in great physical shape and not slide back into old habits. My father is trying to cut back on salt to help control his blood pressure and my brother has just learned that he is allergic to dairy so he needs to make significant changes to his many of his food choices.   

Whether trying to heal an illness or working out to get in better shape, everyone has room for improvement in their health and wellness plan. One of the main hurdles to get over is getting caught up in trying to be perfect or setting goals that are not attainable. A great way to reach your goals is using the SMART method. SMART stands for creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Based.  

I’m not saying to set small goals for the long run, on the contrary I think goals should blend well with dreams and once they are reached they should cause you to see yourself and the world in an entirely different way. In order to reach big goals we often have to take many small steps. The SMART method will ensure that you are taking small measurable steps towards reaching a bigger goal. 

For someone that is trying to lose weight, using one of the many calorie counting apps can be helpful. MyFitnessPal is my favorite and it allows you to add exercise that you have done for the day altering the total calorie requirement for that day. In the beginning there is a period of tedium when entering all the foods one eats. The upside is that if there is a barcode you can scan that quickly into the app and all the information is stored. You just need to add the serving consumed. For other foods like vegetable and fruits one needs to add them once, and then when the same foods are consumed again, the app will automatically populate the item after entering the first few letters. Most of us don’t vary too much from day to day, so usually after a few weeks, the foods are added, and the app is much more simple to use.   

Awareness is the only thing we need in order to change our ways. I have suggested these apps to countless patients of mine and without fail every one of them with weight loss as the goal were surprised at how many calories they were consuming. Some of them don’t even need to use the app after a few short months. They simply use the app to become aware, change their lifestyles and the weight comes off.   

For other goals like cutting certain things like sugar or alcohol one has options. Sometimes a “hard reset” is just what the doctor ordered. For example, a specific goal to cut sugar for 14 days cold turkey resets the mind and detoxes the body and brain so that by the end of the 14 days the cravings have subsided substantially. For others slowly cutting back may do the trick, but when it comes to sugar specifically, I find that my patients have the most success when they do a full sugar detox for a minimum of 14 days. One way to measure success is to rate your energy level at different times throughout the day from 1 to 14. 

Set goals that are attainable and get the support you need from the people around you. Whether it be a lifestyle program like Weight Watchers, or a 12 step program like Overeaters anonymous, support is crucial to reach your health and wellness goals. I’m always available to answer questions or give support.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)