Be SMART About Preventing Diabetes
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What are your goals in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP)? Sure, you want to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. You may also want to lose weight, and you may want to exercise more. These are noble goals, and certainly the reasons why you are in Lark DPP, but are they the goals that will carry you through?
As you learned in Checkin 1, SMART goals can be your guide as you continue on your healthy journey. You do not need to limit yourself to a single goal. Create as many or few goals as you feel will keep you motivated and hold you accountable throughout the program.
SMART goals are:
Specific goals may be smaller steps towards a larger one. For example, your overall goal may be to lose weight, but a specific goal may be to cut your regular dessert in half five days a week. This is a small, defined step that can help you achieve a larger goal of losing 25 lb.
SMART goals are measurable. How else would you know how much progress you have made towards them? A general goal may be to eat better, while a SMART goal may be to limit fried foods to once a week. That way, you can see each week whether you are hitting that SMART goal, and those victories will help you reach that vague goal of eating healthier.
Achievable goals are within reach if you apply yourself, while unattainable goals are impossible regardless of your actions. A goal of running a 10k road race next month may not be achievable if your knees hurt whenever you run a step. A more achievable goal, especially if you already walk regularly, may be to walk an entire 5k or 10k fundraiser or road race next month.
Some people say the "A" in SMART stands not for "Attainable," but for "Attitude." That is just as important - choose a goal that makes you feel excited and motivated to work towards. Setting goals that you really want to achieve can make them more attainable.
If your goal is not realistic, you will not hit it and may stop working towards it. Why work hard if I'll never get there? As an example, restaurant meals may be oversized and unhealthy, but a goal to avoid them is not realistic if restaurants are a regular part of your life. Instead, you might set a goal of taking home half of your meal instead of eating the whole thing every time you go to a restaurant for the next two weeks.
Some people say the "R" in SMART stands for "Relevant." In this case, your goal should be relevant to diabetes prevention. A specific, measurable, and attainable goal may be to save $1,000 so you can take your family on a trip the next long weekend, but this goal is not relevant to your blood sugar. Instead, a goal to have eggs instead of hash browns for breakfast three times next week is relevant because it may help you lose weight and lower blood sugar.
By when will you try to achieve your goal? You may not feel much motivation to get started if your goal is to lose weight without a deadline. However, if you set your goal to lose 5 lb. by the end of three months, there is more urgency. The timeline or deadline with a time-based goal can not only spur you to action, but also help you get up the nerve to tackle more difficult goals because you can already see that the end is approaching quickly. You can give yourself another boost by telling people about your goal and deadline. That way, you are less likely to postpone it.
Setting SMART goals can help you reach your larger goals more quickly and without getting overwhelmed. The SMART goals you set while in Lark DPP can help you lower diabetes risk, lose weight, and increase physical activity. Go for it!