Smart Goals for 2021 - LECOM Health

Smart Goals for 2021

Manageable Goals and Portion Control

According to a number of Top 10 lists for New Year’s resolutions, fitness-related goals rank among the most popular. These goals include exercising for appearance, weight loss, to quit smoking/drinking, or for lowering LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.

Research has supported that after six months, less than 50% of people have upheld their resolutions. By the end of the year, less than 10% of people have maintained their resolutions. This is mostly because people set unrealistic goals and become too frustrated to continue their pursuit of health when they cannot live up to their expectations. An effective method to avoid this is to set SMART goals, which are the following:

  • Specific Example: I want to reduce my body fat.
  • Measurable Example: I want to lose 12 pounds of fat.
  • Attainable Example: I will lose fat weight through a combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Realistic Example: 12 pounds is a reasonable amount of fat weight for me to lose and be healthier.
  • Timely Example: I want to lose 12 pounds within 3 months.

Individuals are most successful when they set small, attainable goals (1-2 pounds per week is a safe amount of fat loss) and reward themselves when they have reached a goal. The least successful people are those who try to emulate the physical attributes of someone they admire. So, set SMART goals, share your resolutions with others and focus your attention on the benefits you will experience when you have reached your goal.

Portion Control

One of the biggest pitfalls in eating healthy, losing weight, or even maintaining weight is portion control. Portion sizes at home and in restaurants have increased over the past two to three decades, which has changed the perception of what a portion actually looks like. How big is your bowl of cereal? Your favorite bakery bagel? Your coffee shop beverage? Perhaps they are bigger than you think!

To know for sure, get out your measuring cups and see how your portions compare to the recommended sizes. Try these strategies to right-size your portions:

  • Use these hand comparisons for a visual estimate:
    • Your fist is about 1 cup
    • Your palm is about 1/2 cup, or 3 to 5 ounces.
    • Your thumb is about 1 tbsp
  • Fill most of your plate with fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products, leaving just enough space for meat.
    • Use smaller dinnerware and glasses.
  • Start with small helpings. Eat slowly and pay attention to hunger and fullness cues. Only go for seconds if you are truly hungry.
    • Eat from a plate, not a package.
    • Place snack foods into smaller containers or buy single-pack portions.
    • Portion out foods before you eat.
    • Read the nutrition information label.
    • When eating out, share an entrée or take half home.



Dave Hopkins is the center director for the LECOM Medical Fitness and Wellness Center. Dave holds a Bachelor’s in education from Edinboro University and a Master’s in Exercise Science from Bloomsburg University. He is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association® as a strength and conditioning specialist and as a tactical strength and conditioning facilitator. In addition, Dave served in the Marine Corps for six years as both an enlisted Marine and as an officer. For more information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, visit