While you don’t need to wait until the new year to set a health goal, it tends to be a helpful tool for many to plan, reset, and get into the mindset for change. Whether it is for improved lab work, increased energy, or relieving joint pain, there are many reasons why people decide that they want to lose weight. However, if your goal is to lose weight for aesthetic purposes, there is potential for more harm than good. Solely focusing on weight loss for how you look can damage your relationship with food, promote disordered eating patterns, and potentially harm your overall health.

Diet has a negative connotation; however, a diet is really a word for your eating pattern. If you want to start a new diet, you should make goals that are not necessarily focused on a number on the scale or calories. Instead, look for ways to improve the diet you have now. Nutrition and healthy foods should be looked at through the lens of addition and not subtraction. So, ask yourself, how can I make this even more nutritious? Is it an extra handful of spinach in your pasta? Half potato, half cauliflower mash? Or is it as simple as ensuring you get at least three meals daily?

The best way to reach a goal is to follow the SMART goals method. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This system helps you design a specific and realistic goal that is attainable and can be maintained long-term.

Whatever your goal is, make sure you are setting SMART goals and making healthy choices. Then, work with your general practitioner and a registered dietitian-nutritionist to ensure that you reach your goals healthily and sustainably.

Click here to learn more about SMART goals.

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