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Food and Nutrition

Eat Well and Be Active Educational Toolkit

Eat Well and Be Active Educational Toolkit:

Activity Plan #3 (children): Setting SMART Goals

Help on accessing alternative formats, such as Portable Document Format (PDF), Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (PPT) files, can be obtained in the alternate format help section.

Table of Contents

Purpose

This activity plan is part of a series that supports the Eat Well and Be Active Every Day poster. It is designed to help intermediaries educate children and adults about key healthy eating and physical activity messages and encourages individuals to take action to maintain and improve their health.

Educators are encouraged to use the activity plans with a group according to the numbered sequence, as some concepts in the series build on each other. However, educators should adapt suggested activities and sequence to meet the needs of their group.

Topic

This activity plan:

  • Introduces SMART goals.
  • Discusses how setting SMART goals can be used to improve healthy eating and physical activity habits.

Background

Setting goals is an excellent way to increase motivation to make healthy lifestyle changes.

SMART goal setting is creating an action plan that helps individuals set and achieve personalized goals. SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Canadians can look to Canada's Food Guide and the Physical Activity Guidelines to help set SMART goals as a step toward healthy living. Following Canada's Food Guide and the Physical Activity Guidelines will help Canadians reduce their risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and osteoporosis, high blood pressure and depression.

Incorporating healthy eating and physical activity into everyday living by setting SMART goals can help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and image, improve energy and increase and maintain bone and muscle strength.

SMART goals are:
Specific: What do I want to do?

I should describe exactly what I would like to achieve. Being precise in my goal will allow me to focus on it and will bring me closer to achieving it.
Measurable: How much and how often will I do it?

I will indicate a quantity, like number of times, duration and frequency, for the goal. This way, I can mark down on a calendar or in a journal when I've worked on my goal - this gives me proof of my progress and helps motivate me to continue!
Attainable: How will I do it?

I should figure out ways in which my goal can be reached. My attitudes, abilities, skills and supports should be well-matched to the goal I am trying to achieve.
Realistic: Can I do it?

My goal should be something I am willing and able to commit to working toward. It should be challenging, but not so much so that I will not be able to achieve it. For example, running a marathon may not be a good start if I have never taken up running before; eating spinach every day would not be a good goal if I really dislike spinach. However, joining a running team at school, and eating one green vegetable every day are more realistic goals.
Timely: When will I do it?

I will specify a time period (or time frame) during which I will work towards this goal. I will decide when I want to start working on it and by when I would like to have achieved it.

For more information on this topic see suggested readings.

Educator Tip:
These suggested readings are strongly recommended to help you prepare for this activity plan.

Learning Objectives

After completing the activities below, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand what a SMART goal is and why setting goals is important.
  2. Write healthy eating and physical activity related SMART goals.
  3. Recognize that SMART goals can be short term goals that lead up to and support longer term goals.
  4. Identify potential barriers to change and possible solutions to overcome those barriers.

You will need

Required

Optional

Activities

Icebreaker: What is healthy living? Ask the children what they think "healthy living" means. Their answers may surprise you! Discuss how "healthy living" means being active, eating and enjoying foods so that our bodies grow strong and allow us to do lots of fun things.

  • How does eating well and being physically active make a difference?

    Activity Plan #1 discusses the benefits of healthy living.

    If you have not completed Activity Plan #1 with your group, you may want to complete the Benefits activity in Activity Plan #1 before beginning this activity plan.

    If you have already completed Activity Plan #1 with this group, start this activity by recalling the benefits of healthy living discussed previously.

    Ask the children how healthy living makes a difference in their lives. For example: Does it make them happier? Does is help them play sports or other activities? Does it help them concentrate better on their school work? Does it help them do fun activities with their friends and family?

    Key Message: Knowing the benefits is a first step to eating well and being physically active.


  • What do I need to do to live healthy?

    Ask the children to think of a goal or success they have achieved in the past. Have them share what their goal was and what steps they took to achieve it. Sharing healthy living stories can encourage others to make healthy food and physical activity choices.

    From their stories, discuss the steps involved in making a change towards healthy living (ex: recognizing the benefits of change, being motivated, setting goals, maintaining the change).

    Discuss potential barriers to making a healthy change and what supports a person needs to overcome these barriers. Write these down on a flipchart or board. Refer to Barriers to healthy living, solutions and supportive environments for some common themes.

    Key Message: Identifying barriers and potential solutions can help you overcome these barriers.


  • Writing Your SMART Goal:
    Following the steps for setting SMART goals lays out an action plan for change!

    1. Discuss what each letter in "SMART" represents and give an example of a SMART goal. SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

      Healthy Eating SMART Goal example:

      • Specific: What do I want to do? I would like to eat more fruit.
      • Measurable: How much and how often will I do it? I will eat one fruit every day.
      • Attainable: How will I do it? I will ask my parents to add fruit to every lunch.
      • Realistic: Can I do it? I like the fruit that I bring to school for lunch.
      • Timely: When will I do it? I will do it this week.

      Healthy Eating SMART Goal: I will eat more fruit by having one fruit with lunch every day this week.

      Physical Activity SMART Goal example:

      • Specific: What do I want to do? I would like to play outside more with my friends.
      • Measurable: How much and how often will I do it? I will play outside with my friends after school for 30 minutes for three days during the week.
      • Attainable: How will I do it? I will talk to my parents and friends to make plans to play outside after school.
      • Realistic: Can I do it? Everyone agrees it's fun to play outside after school, and one of our parents has agreed to come with us.
      • Timely: When will I do it? I will do it Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week.

      Physical Activity SMART Goal: I will play outside after school for 30 minutes with my friends and a parent on Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week.

    2. Brainstorm with the children ideas on what healthy living goals they can set.

      If you have already completed Activity Plan # 2 with this group, ask participants to use their completed Smart Choices Checklist for ideas on goals they may want to set.

      Or, ask the children to look at the images (you may want to print out several Eat Well and Be Active images to circulate), and find two images they like: one related to healthy eating, and one related to physical activity.

      Write a few ideas down or post the selected images on a flipchart or board. Use these examples to discuss what possible goals the children can set.

      Get Moving Tip: If space and time permit, ask the children to 'act' out the physical activity image they chose.


    3. Hand out two copies of the Set My SMART Goal! worksheet to each participant. Using the worksheet, assist the children in writing one healthy eating SMART goal and one physical activity SMART goal. Write a SMART goal along with them, to show that everyone needs to practice healthy living.

      Along with each of their goals, ask children to think of one barrier that may make their goal difficult to achieve. Ask them to write a solution to this barrier. Think about the earlier discussion on barriers ("What do I need to do to live healthy?" section).

    4. Ask participants to track their progress using the Tracking Chart over the course of the next week. If possible, have participants report back on their progress.

      KEY MESSAGE: Goal setting is very important for making successful healthy lifestyle changes.


  • Achieving Your Goal: Remind participants that short term goals can help you achieve long term goals. For example, a child may want to become a good hockey player some day. Setting several short term goals over a period of time, such as learning to skate, learning to skate with a hockey stick, learning to aim the puck at different parts of the net, playing hockey with kids in the neighbourhood, eating well to give them energy to play better, may all lead to achieving a long term goal like playing hockey on a competitive team.

    KEY MESSAGE: Short term goals can lead to great successes. Celebrate the achievement of every goal.

Suggested Reading

Healthy Eating

Physical Activity

Barriers to healthy living, solutions and supportive environments

Barriers Possible Solutions
My parents or others choose what I eat and what activities I do.
  • Ask your parents if you can help with the grocery shopping, choosing foods and cooking meals. 
  • Make plans to play with friends. Talk to your parents about what activities you can do with friends after school.
  • Have active family days. Ask your parents to go for a walk or play at the park after dinner or on weekends.
  • Help your parents and siblings around the house. Carry in groceries, rake leaves, and help clear the driveway of snow.
I don't like the taste of healthy foods.
  • Make a list of what foods you do like.
  • Try a new food once a week. It's okay if you don't like it - the fun is in trying new flavours and finding out which ones you do like! Keep in mind that it can take several times trying a new food before you actually like it. 
  • Eat foods you have not tried before with foods you already like. For example, some vegetables can be blended and mixed into soups and casseroles. You can put vegetables and fruit on pizza. You can make smoothies with frozen or fresh fruit.
I like watching TV and playing video games instead of playing sports.
  • Instead of watching TV or playing video games, make plans with friends to go to the park or play games in your neighbourhood (ball hockey, tag, hide and seek, Frisbee, skipping rope, etc.).
  • You don't need to be on a sports team to be active! Walking the dog, dancing, rollerblading, and martial arts all count.
  • Find a community centre near you that organizes free games or lends out sports equipment.
  • Ask your friends what activities they do and try out these new activities!
  • If you're going to play video games, play them standing up and give yourself a short time limit.
  • Don't let outdoor weather stop your physical activity goals. Try these indoor activities: dancing, exercising to videos, doing yoga.
When I get home from school and I'm hungry, pop, chips and chocolate seem like quick and easy snacks.
  • Ask your family to buy foods from the four food groups so that you have some on hand. 
  • Put fruit in a bowl on the table, so when you get home it is the easiest food to grab.
  • Drink milk, munch on vegetables, have some cheese and crackers instead.
  • Visit Canada's Food Guide Smart Snacking Tips for more ideas on healthy snacks.
I would like to walk to school, but my parents drive me because they think walking isn't safe.
  • Talk to your parents, teachers and friends about starting a 'walking school bus' - a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It is like a car-pool, except without the car, but with the added benefits of physical activity, visiting with friends and neighbours, hands-on street proofing lessons, and reduced air pollution emissions. Visit Next link will take you to another Web site Active & Safe Routes to School for more information.
Creating supportive environments
  • Get your parents and caregivers involved! They can make healthy changes with you.
  • Practice eating well and being active with other people. Cook, walk and play sports with friends from school, other kids in the neighbourhood, or other family members.
  • Set SMART goals and post them in a place you will see them every day to remind you to maintain progress towards achieving them.
  • Learn more about healthy eating and physical activity to motivate you to take action.
  • Feel good about achieving small goals.
  • Seek help from people with experience. Ask your friends, teachers, or family for help and ideas.

Set My SMART goal! worksheet

Name:

My SMART goal for: healthy eating, physical activity
S Specific What do I want to do?
M Measurable How much and how often will I do it?
A Attainable How will I do it?
R Realistic Can I do it?
T Timely When will I do it?
My SMART Goal:
 

What is one barrier that may make your goal difficult? How can you overcome it?

Your signature:
Date:

Tracking Chart

Keep track of your progress using the Tracking Chart!

Tracking Chart
Name: Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
My SMART Healthy Eating Goal:              
My SMART Physical Activity Goal: