Are you a SMARTy?

At the end of the day, everyone should ask themselves “Did you eat good, or did you eat well?” Its a question that really makes you reflect on what you ate that day. Whether you tell someone your answer or not, you can be honest with yourself. You can say, “you know what, I did eat healthy today” or you can say “you know what, I can be a little better tomorrow”. For all those out there that want to make a change and improve their diets, there is a way to make change without having to completely give up what you love.

Today in class we met at a local YMCA and discussed something I had learned about during my third year of med school – SMART goals. As future physicians, we often focus on the science behind disease but also practice working with patients to improve their habits to ultimately prevent disease.

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(Image Source)

Here’s how it works. Ask yourself these questions:

S. What goal are you trying to achieve? Define the goal as much as possible. Be specific.

M. How will you know when you’ve reached it? How are you going to measure your progress? 

A. Is it in your power to accomplish it? Make sure the goal is not out of reach.

R. Is the goal worthwhile and will it meet your needs? Does this goal fit with your immediate or long-term plans? 

T. When do you hope to achieve this goal? Give yourself a deadline to aim towards. 

An example I’ve used with a couple patients involves their portion size. Rice is a food that is popular in many cultures, and often times people take 2-3 scoops of rice when dishing out their meals. One SMART goal I used to ask my patients to do was just cutting down the number of scoops of rice they dished out for themselves. I asked them to cut down by a full or half-scoop every couple days, and many of the patients felt comfortable  with that.

One of the motto’s my class has continuously been drawn back to is the concept of “meeting the patient half-way”. Meaning, doctors shouldn’t always just tell patients what to do. Instead, they need to gauge what the patient is comfortable with changing and make adjustments so they progressively improve. Making unrealistic goals with people often leads to lack of follow-up and often discourages the patient. So, I encourage everyone to make a SMART goal and test it out. Then by the end of the day you can ask yourself: “Did I eat good, or did I eat well?” and see how you improve.

Photo: Experimented at home and made myself an açaí bowl (Recipe soon to come)

“You can eat good and feel good, or you can eat well and feel great.” – Roniece Weaver, MS, RD, LDN

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