How to Set Weight Loss Goals You Can Stick To

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Are you ready to start living that healthy lifestyle you’ve been putting off until January? Successful habits start with successful planning – and most importantly, learning how to stay focused by using strategies that work for you. Setting “SMART” healthy eating goals is a great way to make positive changes in the new year.

“SMART” stands for goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-framed

When setting a health/nutrition-related goal, you want to start with the first letter and work your way to the right, so let’s start with “S.”

Smart Goals

*Image inspired by Health Start Foundation

S- Specific

Think of your nutrition goals. How specific are they? The main reason people stop pursuing their goals is because they made their goal too general: For example, “I want to eat healthy” or “I want to lose weight”. When setting your SMART goal, think of what you could do to make your goal even more specific. An example of a more specific SMART goal could be, “I will eat one piece of fruit at lunch and at least one vegetable with dinner during the work week.” Not only is it specific, but it also gives you specific instructions on what foods you will be eating and when they will be eaten.

M- Measurable

How can you make a goal measurable? A goal that is measurable must have some indicator that progress has or is happening. It also must state how often the goal needs to occur for it to be successful for you. For example, a measurable goal related to “I want to eat healthy” would be, “I want to eat one piece of fruit for breakfast and at least one vegetable for lunch and dinner 5 days per week for the next month.” Not only is it specific, but your progress is also measurable.

A- Achievable

Healthy eating goals must be made in a way that is realistic for you to attain - you need to make sure you have the tools and resources (and ability) to complete it. For example, if you do not have access to weights at a gym, it wouldn’t be very attainable to make one of your exercise goals, “I want to lift weights for 30 minutes, 5 days a week.” Instead, you want to utilize the tools and resources around you in order to create a reasonable goal that you can achieve: “I will walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week”.


Does your goal align with your values or your long-term goal? Often when we pursue a big goal, we make irrelevant smaller goals that don’t relate to our overall plan. For example: Your big goal is healthy eating, but you make goals such as “I want to work out 4 times a week.” Although this is a healthy practice, it does not relate to your goal of wanting to eat healthier. So, when creating your health goals, be sure that every small goal you create directly ties to the big goal.


You must have a timeframe in which you want to complete your goal or when you will do tasks you have assigned yourself. It should be based around times when you will put in an active effort to eat healthier. For example, a time-based goal around healthy eating could be: “Every Saturday, I will plan healthy meals for the week and go grocery shopping.” In this example, the goal establishes a clear timeframe on which you will complete a task.

Examples of “SMART” goals:

Drink more water:

“I will take my water bottle to work at least 4 days per week.”

“I will drink one full glass of water when I wake up every day this week.”

“I will drink 64 ounces of water every day, at least 4 days per week for the next month”

Eat more fruits and vegetables:

“I will try a new recipe each week with fruits and veggies.”

“I will fill half my plate with veggies for dinner 4 nights this week.”

“I will eat one fruit at breakfast and one vegetable at lunch and dinner 4 days per week.”

Drink less caffeine:

“I will fill my coffee cup with half decaf coffee and half regular coffee every morning”

“I will drink one soda per week for the next 4 weeks, then eliminate them.”

“I will drink one cup of coffee instead of two every morning for the next month.”

Would you like to jumpstart your health goals with a registered dietitian?

Your opportunity to create a customized plan is just a click away! Learn more about Britney West and schedule your appointment here.

Regardless of the date published, no content on this website should ever be used as a replacement for direct medical advice from your primary care provider or another qualified clinician.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.