The SMART Way to Setting Health Goals

Happy 2023! I don’t know about you, but it took me a few weeks to embrace the new year and think about habits, intentions, and goals to set for the year ahead. To move the needle forward, I revisited the S.M.A.R.T. method to develop a plan for setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely resolutions. Regarding overall health and well-being, SMART goals can help us stay on track and focus on improving our overall lifestyle. Whether it’s about eating better, exercising more, or reducing stress, SMART goals are important for our mental and physical well-being.

Be Specific

When setting smart health goals, it’s important to be specific and set achievable goals. Instead of setting a goal like “I want to be healthy,” you should aim for something more concrete like “I want to walk 30 minutes every day” or “I will choose a few dinner recipes and shop for the ingredients on Sunday.” Being specific about your goals helps to give direction and focus on the outcome. This step is your action statement for the goal itself: what are you trying to accomplish and why.


How will you know when you’ve met your goal? You can break down your health goals into smaller achievable pieces or milestones that you can work towards to measure progress. This could be tracking the number of steps you take each day or meal-prepping on the weekend, so you are equipped to cook most meals at home, saving time, money, and calories!


Make sure your goals are achievable and realistic considering what you want to accomplish. Try not to aim too high or too low. Instead, think about things you can do to complete these goals and they are practical. Figure out if there are resources you can access to make it easier. Like many people, taking a month off from drinking alcohol is popular in January. For me, I do take on a dry-ish January to make small steps in reducing my alcohol intake for a long-term transformation.


This step is all about you! Make sure your goals are relevant to both your lifestyle and personal health. Make sure that the goals you set are ones you want to accomplish and will positively impact your life. Living with high blood pressure means I must take full control of my diet and exercise habits to live a long, healthy life. This goal is meaningful to me because of my family history.


This is the final planning stage of setting these goals. Connect your goals to a specific time frame or deadline, even if they are flexible, so that you have a clear sense of when you want to accomplish them. One thing I learned training for marathons is printing out a schedule and sticking to it as best I could. Living in New England sometimes meant altering a long run in the snow, sleet, and rain to a shorter run but still getting in the run! Choosing specific, measurable goals means you can track your improvement over time. Write your efforts down in a journal or track them on an app so you can see how far you’ve come.

Making small improvements daily can make a huge impact over time. One good outcome during the pandemic life was building on healthy habits I turned to like getting fresh air every day and cooking at home most days of the week. Don’t underestimate the power change, however slight they may be. Small habits can transform your health and your life.

Quote of the Week

People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”

F.M. Alexander

Recipe of the Week

Baked Crunchy Hot Honey Chicken

I adapted this recipe from @halfbakedharvest, made it with panko breadcrumbs instead of cornflakes, and used only the parsley as the garnish. Either way, all will be gone as soon as you serve it – it’s that good!


• 6 cups cornflakes

• 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

• 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

• 2 large eggs, beaten

• 2 tablespoons hot sauce

• 2 pounds smaller boneless chicken breasts or thighs

• extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Hot Honey

• 1/2 cup honey

• 2-3 tablespoons of hot sauce

• 1-3 teaspoons cayenne pepper

• 3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

• sea salt

• fresh thyme, cilantro, or parsley, for serving


Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor, combine the cornflakes, parmesan, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Pulse until you have fine crumbs. Alternatively, you can crush the crumbs in a plastic bag by stepping on them. Dump the crumbs into a shallow bowl.

Beat the eggs in a bowl, add the hot sauce and chicken, and toss well to coat. Dredge the chicken through the crumbs, covering fully. Place on the prepared baking sheet. For a thicker coating, dip the chicken back through the eggs, then through the crumbs a 2nd time. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until crisp all around.

A few minutes before the chicken is done cooking, make the sauce. In a sauce pot, warm the honey, hot sauce, cayenne, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt.

Drizzle the warm sauce over the chicken. Top with herbs. If the sauce thickens, warm it for 5 seconds in the microwave. Enjoy!

Baked Crunchy Hot Honey Chicken

Published by

Leslie Ouellette

Listening and learning about nutrition, exercise, and health-related issues has been a life-long passion turned into action. I am most passionate about my family, friends, and good health. I am a business professional with over 30 years of expertise in marketing, market research, communications, writing, and editing. @balancedhealthblog

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