Make A Resolution For Healthy Aging This Year

Every January, over 20 percent of the adult population in the United States pledges to lose weight and eat healthier; however, by the end of the year, the percentage of people who feel that they succeeded in their resolution drops to a paltry 9. If this cycle sounds familiar to you, know that you are in good company with the majority of the American population. If, however, you want to count yourself among the 9 percent who achieve their goals, consider adopting a new goal-setting strategy for your resolutions.

You might be asking yourself why you should bother with a resolution if the chances of success are so low. The answer lies in your own body - As our bodies age, physical health becomes even more important for maintaining quality of life and preventing chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Studies show that regular exercise and a balanced diet help to treat common conditions associated with aging, such as arthritis, high blood pressure, or diabetes, as well as preventing osteoporosis and improving balance and stabilization. If your resolution is to maintain healthy aging in 2017, then be sure to set a goal that will stick.

SMART goals are a fantastic tool to guarantee success – whatever your dream. The SMART system keeps you on track through a series of small victories that progress toward your larger resolution. Breaking your dream into SMART steps is a fun way to take the dread and disappointment out of New Year’s resolutions.

So what is a SMART goal? SMART goals are:

Specific - Measurable - Attainable - Realistic - Time-bound

S - Specific

For example, let’s say your goal this year is to “have healthy aging in 2017.” To turn this statement into a SMART goal, you would first question in what ways you want to have healthy aging. Are you a clean-eating couch potato who wants to move more? Or maybe you want to spend more nights cooking at home with your family in order to eat more vegetables and less processed food. Whatever the case, decide on a specific primary goal and stick to it!

M - Measurable

Remember those star charts you had in elementary school? A gold sticker may not be worth much, but it is meaningful because it achieves the “M” in SMART; it makes your goals measurable. Giving yourself specific parameters for success not only provides a method for tracking your progress, but also paints a clear picture of what exactly your final goal entails. For example, a measurable goal elevates “I want to eat more vegetables” to “I want to eat three servings of vegetables every day in order to manage my chronic conditions.”

A – Attainable

Three servings a day may not sound like much to a health-nut, but setting an attainable goal all depends on your starting point. Choosing an attainable goal requires that you make an honest assessment of where you are in your journey at this exact moment – not where you wish you were or want to be later. Although it may be challenging, an honest and fair assessment will pay off more than one that is false but flattering. Once you have identified where you currently stand, set a mini goal in the right direction, one that you can achieve in anywhere from a week to a month. Sure, eating 3 servings of vegetables a day is still below federal diet guidelines. But if you eat 3 servings of vegetables every day in January, you can easily eat 4 every day in February, and you’ll be eating a super-fresh 5 by March.

R - Realistic

While attainable goals reference your capabilities, realistic goals are based on your willpower. You will test the reality of your goal on a day-to-day basis, when you come home from work and want nothing less than to cook an entire meal from scratch or when you wake up before dawn for a three-mile run. A more realistic scenario might entail a meal that you prepped in the morning and threw in the crockpot, or a brisk evening jog with your pooch rather than a dawn half-marathon.

T - Time-bound

Lastly, SMART goals have a time limit on them. As Leonard Bernstein said, “To achieve a goal you need two things: a plan and not quite enough time.” Giving yourself a date to implement each specific, measurable, attainable and realistic mini-goal will ensure that you achieve it by its deadline. The date that you choose for each mini-goal can be based on a special event in your life or simply on a regular calendar interval. For example, you could aim to lose 15 pounds before a big anniversary party or by the end of three months. Think about a date that is meaningful for you and stick with it!

Still thinking about a good SMART resolution for 2017? Check out some of the healthy examples below for inspiration:

  • Goal: “I want to be more active.” SMART goal: “This week, I will walk 1 mile every day. By increasing my pace every week, I will be ready to run regularly by March.”
  • Goal: “I want to eat a more healthy diet to manage my chronic conditions.” SMART goal: “This month, I will replace my usual snacks with fresh fruits or vegetables. By the end of the month, I will have created a new habit of reaching for healthy food when I’m hungry, so next month I can focus on setting mini-goals for my other meals.”
  • Goal: “I want to be more mindful.” SMART goal: “Every day this week, I will listen to a guided meditation for 5 minutes after dinner. By June, I will have a regular meditation practice for 30 minutes a day.”

Don’t let another year slip by without achieving your goal. By breaking up your resolution into specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound mini-goals, you can make this year different. Let 2017 be the year that you count yourself among the 9 percent who stick to their resolution for healthy aging all year long.



“New Year’s Resolution Statistics.” Statistics Brain. Statistics Brain Research Institute. 2016.

“Healthy Aging: Lessons from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.” National Institute on Aging. 2015.