Hi everyone! I’m Kiara; you may know me as a POPFLEX POWERGIRL and PowerMama to my beautiful baby girl Lialuna! What you may not know about me is well... I was not always passionate about fitness! In fact, up until I was about 21, I did not know how to even BE in a gym! I would always joke that my favorite machine in the gym was the vending machine. So, believe me when I tell you: I KNOW how hard starting a new fitness journey can be!
Also, another fun new fact about me is I am a military brat. And, if you are unfamiliar with military life, let me let you in on a little ‘secret’. For some reason, they LOVE their acronyms! Half the time I don’t even know what they mean (PCS? TDY? DITY?) What?! One acronym that I would like to share with you, to help kickstart that new fitness journey or ANY goal you would like to achieve, is “SMART”.
Put simply, a SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound! Below, I’ll define each component in detail and share MY experience with each stage of the SMART process that I used to set a personal goal following a health scare I had a few years back.
Specificity removes broad, unclear, or muddy language to uncover a coherent and concise desire (your true goal).
The problem I’ll use for this example is from a time I received a health scan that gave me a scare. The report showed that I was pre-metabolic syndrome (risk for diabetes); my low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level was high; and I was right on the cusp of being overweight. Upon learning this, a broad goal first appeared in my mind: “I got to get healthy!” Then I had to figure out what exactly that meant and how to get there. Realizing that my weight and diet were key contributing factors, I formed more specific goals to lower my LDL levels and ensure I maintain a healthier weight.
Takeaway: To keep your goals focused and task-oriented, make sure they're SPECIFIC. It will help you tune out the information that might be distracting, unhelpful, or unrelated to the purpose of your goals.
As you make progress toward your goal, there needs to be a way to check that progress along the way. For this, some sort of metric is needed to make sure you can measure or quantify changes as they happen throughout the process.
Continuing from the goal above (lowering my LDL levels and maintain a healthy weight), I needed to check to make sure this was something that could be measured. My employer gave us fitness reports every year, so I would be getting the report on my LDL levels. Lowering my weight is something I could verify using a scale. Now, I had identified the metrics I would use to gauge progress.
Takeaway: Make sure you can measure your progress will keep you actively engaged in your goals and seeing how far you've come - a must for self-care and motivation!
This is an important step because ensuring that your goal is attainable means that you can actually reach the end as long as you put forth the effort. Attainable goals are something you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to complete them (regardless of how long it will take).
After identifying that I could change my diet and incorporate more exercise into my routine, I realized that I did not have the skills necessary to build an appropriate diet or engage in a workout routine that was safe, healthy, and effective. Realizing this showed me that I needed to seek outside advice from experts knowledgeable in the field. Luckily, there are tons of free resources available from brands like POPFLEX (check out the rest of their blog here) in addition to Instagram and TikTok where access to dietitians is right at your fingertips! I personally went with this book (I like to hold things in my hand) authored by a group of dietitians. From this resource, I found safe and healthy at-home workouts in addition to grocery lists and meal prep instructions. Perfect!
Takeaway: Making attainable goals will keep you grounded and ensure that you don’t overextend yourself. This will help you avoid taking on too much at once.
Relevancy pertains to whether the goal addresses the underlying problem at hand. Checking for relevancy ensures the problem is matched appropriately to a solution.
This step required a little thinking for me. Thinking back, my problem was that I was at risk for metabolic syndrome. So, I thought “would changing my diet and increasing my exercise reduce my risk for metabolic syndrome and diabetes?” Turns out that these are both excellent ways to both manage diabetes and reduce your overall risk for the disease (not just any diet or exercise though, so make sure to talk to your doctor and nutritionist/dietitian first!).
Takeaway: Making sure your goals address your "problem", or the thing you want to change, will help you make sure all your effort pays off in the end and accomplishes what you originally set out to do!
When a goal is bound to specific time parameters (i.e. deadlines) it helps keep you on track. It also helps establish intervals for progress checks or measuring along the way.
There I was, four steps down, one to go! The program that I followed from the book I purchased had preset check-in timelines every week for measuring progress and incorporated measuring circumferences and taking my weight from a scale. This satisfied a weekly progress check that would conclude at the end of a month. I wound up deciding to continue to apply what I had learned from my materials even after the initial month was over! My ‘diet’ was not a crash diet or a quick fix—it was a lifestyle change that remains sustainable to this day!
Takeaway: Establishing timelines is very helpful by keeping you committed to a continuing effort! It also will allow you to give yourself the time needed to make sure you can accomplish your goal. Sometimes, if the goal is big enough, it can take years to get there - and that’s ok!
And there you have it! These five steps can be applied to any goal you might have. Since I made this goal, my life has changed and so has my body. I gave birth to a lovely little human just over a year ago... so my goals have naturally shifted as has my life. Whenever you want to make a new fitness goal or set your sights on a new hill to climb (literally or metaphorically), make sure to take care of yourself by being specific, measuring your progress, keeping YOUR needs in mind, and setting up milestone so that you can keep yourself on time and accountable!
This post was written by POPFLEX POWERGIRL Kiara Hunter.