a piece of toast being spread with peanut butter

Protein: Fuel for the aging body. Are you getting enough?

Making sure you are eating enough protein throughout your day is very important, especially as you age. As the old saying goes “you are what you eat!”

Protein helps build and maintain muscles, organs, skin and bones. When you are not eating enough protein, you will start to lose strength, and your body will have trouble functioning as you need it to.

What does adding more protein to your meals look like? Watch this quick video with Katie Genge, a registered dietitian with Geriatric Rehabilitation at Juravinski Hospital & Cancer Centre to learn how to make sure you’re eating enough protein.

Protein comes from:

  • Meat, fish, poultry
  • Milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Eggs, beans and legumes

Have one serving of protein at each meal. That could be 1 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a piece of meat the size of your palm, or a piece of cheese the size of your thumb.

It’s especially important to have protein at breakfast. Try adding two scrambled eggs to your toast, mixing nuts, seeds or peanut butter into your oatmeal, or if you don’t have much appetite, starting the day with yogurt or a piece of cheese.

During the day, have high protein snacks to increase your intake. Try greek yogurt and berries, peanut butter and banana, or hummus and crackers.

Keep track of your protein servings to make sure you’re getting enough. Eating enough protein can help to keep your body strong, which makes it easier to maintain your independence.

If you want more information about getting enough protein, ask your family doctor if there is a registered dietitian available through their office, or call UnlockFood.ca or 1-866-797-0000.

Click here to learn more about getting enough protein.

Tips to increase your protein intake

Add Skim Milk Powder or Whey Powder to:

• cream soups, sauces
• puddings
• milkshakes, smoothies
• milk
• hot chocolate
• coffee
• cereals
• mashed potatoes

Yogurt or Puddings (choose Greek yogurt for more protein):

• Serve with fruit and other desserts.
• Drink yogurt smoothies.
• Snack on yogurt.
• Use yogurt in dips andcasseroles.

Cheese (choose cheese with less than 20% Milk Fat (MF) or less):

• Melt on top of pastas and cooked vegetables, hamburger, meatloaf, eggs and tacos.
• Use grated or cut up cheese in potatoes, casseroles and salads.
• Snack on cottage cheese or cheese during the day.
• Add cheese to bread, bagels, vegetables, muffins, fresh fruit and crackers.


• Slice eggs and add to salads, casseroles and sandwich fillings.
• Add pasteurized liquid egg products such as Burnbrae-Naturegg, Gold Egg, or PC Blue Menu to smoothies.
• Buy store bought eggnogs that are high in protein and calories.

Peanut Butter, Other Nut or Seed Butters*:

• Spread on crackers, fruit or vegetables.
• *Nut-free alternatives include soy butter, pea butter and tahini.

Nuts, Seeds and Grains:

• Add to muffin or cookie mixes, ice cream and salads.
• Mix with dried fruit. Eat as a snack.
• Add wheat germ to yogurt or cereal.

Beans or Legumes:

• Have baked beans, a bean salad or bean vegetable dip such as hummus.
• Add tofu to soups, smoothies, salads, sauces and stir fries.
• Use Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP) as a meat substitute in pasta sauces or tacos.

Meat, Fish or Poultry:

• Add to salads, soups, pasta dishes, rice, omelettes, quiche or baked potatoes.
• Spread paté on crackers or bread.

Regular dairy foods may be substituted with lactose-reduced or soy products.

Making time to grieve

Front-line staff often form close bonds with patients and their families, especially on units where prolonged stays are frequent. They enter their lives at critical junctures and become partners, rather than observers. That’s the case on C3, the Oncology & G.I. Medicine unit at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. Many of the patients there are very ill, and it’s not uncommon for them to die in the hospital.

Losing patients can take a toll on staff, especially nurses. In the fast-paced environment of the unit, it can be difficult to take time to process the grief that follows.

Staff on C3 have developed a simple but highly effective way to make sure nurses have a chance to grieve after a patient dies. Watch the video below to learn more.

When a first responder needs help

In his 33 years as a firefighter, Rich Dykes has been the first on scene to thousands of calls. From house fires to car accidents to medical incidents, he’s knelt at the side of many patients in their greatest times of need.

He never thought he’d be one of them.

On New Year’s Eve 2016 Rich was at home in Dundas, On. with his wife, Anne when he noticed unusual pain in his neck and arm. Having just spent the day playing football with his friends, he chalked it up to a rough day on the field and drew himself a bath to help soothe what he thought were tired muscles.

It wasn’t until Rich was standing in his kitchen – just an hour or so later – that he realized he was experiencing more than just muscle pain. Dizziness struck him unexpectedly. He had odd sensations in his ear. But it was when he lost control over his right arm that Rich was fairly certain he knew what was happening to him. He’d seen the signs time and time again on the job.

“I think I’m having a stroke,” he said to Anne, who immediately called 9-1-1 and unlocked the front door. Within minutes, Hamilton firefighters and paramedics were kneeling beside Rich – now without feeling in his legs or the ability to speak – on his living room floor.

“It was frustrating not being able to talk and describe my symptoms,” said Rich. “But once they loaded me up in to the ambulance and the paramedic gestured ‘five minutes to Hamilton General’, I felt relieved.”

“They saved my life that day.”

At Hamilton General Hospital (HGH), the regional stroke centre, emergency stroke and interventional teams worked quickly to give Rich two life-saving treatments. First, he received a drug called “tPA” which works to dissolve or break down the blood clot causing the stroke. Second, he went through a new procedure called endovascular therapy – or “EVT” – where doctors remove the clot from the brain by feeding a catheter up to the blood clot through an artery in the leg In Rich’s case, a clot had formed at the back of his neck and was affecting the flow of blood to his brain.

Within an hour, the effects of the stroke began to reverse. With Anne by his side, Rich “silently celebrated” every time he regained a sensation or movement he had so suddenly lost just hours before. He could wiggle his toes. He had feeling back in his arms. Finally, he could speak again.

“When that happened, I knew I wasn’t going to be in a wheelchair, and that was a great feeling.”

Rich spent two days in the neurosurgical stepdown unit and two more on the stroke unit at HGH. By his fifth day in hospital, Rich’s care team cleared him to go home. By April 2017 – just three months later – he was back to work at Burlington Fire Department.

Had he not recognized his symptoms when they first arrived – that dizzy moment standing on his kitchen floor – Rich may have had a very different outcome. His quick action made him eligible for the brain-saving treatments that he may not have received if he had waited to call for help.

But, in true first responder fashion, Rich is humble. He has others to thank for his incredible recovery.

“I can’t express enough gratitude to the hospital staff, paramedics, firemen, and my wife Anne.

They saved my life that day.”

If you think you or someone around you is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Click here to watch a video about recognizing the signs of stroke.


HHS researchers discover a simple blood test could save lives after surgery

Researchers at Hamilton Health Sciences’ Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) and McMaster University have determined that a simple blood test can predict and possibly prevent many of the deaths that occur after surgery.

The “VISION” study enrolled nearly 22,000 patients aged 45 years or older from 23 hospitals in 13 countries and found that approximately 18 per cent of them sustained heart damage within 30 days of non-cardiac surgery and that, without enhanced monitoring, the vast majority – as many as 93 per cent – of these complications will go undetected, potentially until it’s too late to intervene.

“The effects of surgery anywhere in the body create a perfect milieu for damage to heart tissue, including bleeding, blood clot formation, and long periods of inflammation,” says Dr. P.J. Devereaux, scientific leader of perioperative medicine at PHRI, director, division of cardiology at McMaster University and principal investigator for the VISION study. “In most cases, this damage occurs within the first 24 to 36 hours after surgery when patients usually receive narcotic painkillers that can mask symptoms of cardiac distress.”

“These discoveries have the potential to save lives.”

After surgery, study patients had a blood test for a protein called high-sensitivity troponin T, which is released into the bloodstream when injury to the heart occurs. Devereaux and his team discovered that patients with troponin T levels beyond a certain threshold had increased risk of death within 30 days of having surgery.

Overall, the study found that 1.4 per cent of patients died within 30 days following non-cardiac surgery.

“One per cent seems like a small number, until you consider that about 200 million surgeries are performed each year around the world,” says Devereaux. “Where we’re letting patients down is in post-operative management. We now know that we need to become more involved in care and monitoring after surgery to ensure that patients at risk have the best chance for a good recovery. These discoveries have the potential to save lives.”

The results of the VISION study were published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Tricks for treating seasonal allergies

That time of year

With the beautiful blossoms of spring, and the transition to cooler fall nights, come the pollen that plagues many of us with itchy eyes and runny noses. More than one in six Canadians suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Seasonal allergies can start at any age, but are usually identified early on and can subdue as you get older.

Allergy season typically starts in early spring and lasts until the first frost in autumn. At this time of year, trees and grasses release pollen into the air. Pollen counts are higher on hot, dry, windy days and lower after a rainfall or at night.

  • Tree pollination: April to early June
  • Grass pollination: mid-May to mid-July
  • Weed pollination: mid-August to end of September
  • Molds: midsummer through fall

Seasonal allergy symptoms

When mold and pollen get released and come in contact with the body, the immune system of people with allergies kicks in. They release chemicals like histamine to fight these foreign particles off, which in turn, causes seasonal allergy symptoms. Symptoms include itchy eyes, nose, and throat, a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and congestion.

Unfortunately, pollen can also aggravate asthma symptoms. Approximately 50 percent of people with asthma also have pollen allergies, and when the two team up, it can be a serious health concern.

How can you cope?

Whether or not you have asthma, it’s important to stay on top of your seasonal allergies so your symptoms don’t get worse. Watch this video with Dr. Susan Waserman, an allergist and clinical immunology specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences for tips on tackling seasonal allergies.


What should you do if you have seasonal allergies?

  • Check the local pollen forecast on a weather website, and avoid going outdoors during peak times like hot, windy days.
  • Avoid coming in contact with visible sources of pollen, like plants and flowers.
  • Avoid activities with high exposure, like cutting the grass or driving with the windows down. Ask someone to cut the grass for you or consider wearing a pollen mask for outdoor activities.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes outdoors.
  • If you’ve been outside where pollen levels are high, make sure you shower to wash off any pollen and change into a new set of clothes.
  • Don’t hang your laundry outdoors to dry. Use a dryer instead as pollen can cling to fresh laundry.
  • Use an air conditioner or fan instead of opening windows and doors. Change your air conditioner filter often.
  • Take an over-the-counter antihistamine.
  • If your symptoms persist, see a doctor.

Research confirms laughter is the best medicine

Doctors at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) finally have scientific proof behind the age-old adage that laughter is the best medicine.

To confirm their theory, researchers added complimentary therapies like funny faces, joke books, and silly songs to traditional patient treatment plans. The multi-year study was conducted at HHS hospitals across Hamilton and concluded that the funny bone does in fact play a key role in recovery for both patients and their families.

Please watch this short video below to learn more about the study.


While this “laughter research” doesn’t really exist, our health care team truly does believe in the power of positivity.

“Health and healing goes well beyond medicine,” says Dr. Richard Seeley, chief of complex care, aging and palliative care at HHS, and star of our April Fool’s video. “Our mood can certainly affect our physical state. As healthcare providers, it’s important that we foster an environment where our patients can be “people” first, “patients” second. Even surrounding the most serious health issues there is room for optimism, happiness, and laughter.”

We hope you’ll share a laugh with your friends and family today and pass this video on. Happy April 1st.

Meet Dan. He let us live-stream his colonoscopy.

Watch a live colonoscopy

Why broadcast a colonoscopy on Facebook?

It takes guts to give the internet a front row seat to your colonoscopy. But Dan Logan is happy he did.

“I’m glad I did it. When Dr. Lumb first asked me about this, I didn’t even know what Facebook Live was, so I was a bit unsure. Seeing people watch it and comment makes me happy I said yes.”

On March 15, Logan became the first Canadian to have his colonoscopy broadcast on Facebook Live. Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) live-streamed the procedure for Colon Cancer Awareness Month to reduce fear and stigma around colonoscopies and raise awareness for screening.

“When Dr. Lumb first asked me about this, I didn’t even know what Facebook Live was…”

Dr. Barry Lumb, physician-in-chief at HHS, and a well-respected gastroenterologist, has performed over 15,000 colonoscopies in his career, and knows how intimidating the procedure can be for some patients.

“That’s why we’re showing people how it’s done. We want people to know there’s nothing to be afraid of,” he says.

Dr. Lumb and nurse, Sandi Bell, performed Logan’s colonoscopy at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, where an average of 8,500 colonoscopies are performed each year. During the process, he answered questions from viewers, described how he was navigating the colon, and provided important information about screening.

What do you need to know about screening?

The risk of developing colon cancer goes up after the age of 50, and that’s the age when screening should begin. Men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 are encouraged to get screened for colon cancer every two years as part of their routine medical care. For most people, this means taking a simple, at home test called a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). The FOBT is for men and women in this age range with no symptoms or first degree family history (parent, sibling, child) of the disease.

“It’s important that people know the best screening option for them so we can catch this disease early and treat it.”

“This is a really effective screening method,” says Dr. Lumb. “It’s important that people know the best screening option for them so we can catch this disease early and treat it.”

If your FOBT comes back positive, the next step is a colonoscopy for a closer look. You should also talk to your family doctor about a colonoscopy if you have a first degree family history or you’re experiencing symptoms. Even when they know they’re at risk, people sometimes shy away from receiving a colonoscopy because it seems like a scary procedure.

Logan wants people to know that’s not the case.

“It’s very simple,” Logan says. “People should know that it’s quick and painless.”

Logan’s mom died of colorectal cancer when she was just 59-years old, so he started getting screened before he turned 50.

“I was only 27 when she died. It was really hard watching her go through that,” he recalls.

When it’s caught early, nine out of 10 people with the disease can be cured. If it’s caught after it has already spread to other parts of the body, treatment is less successful; only about one out of eight people whose colon cancer has spread will be cured.

Who tuned in?

During Logan’s procedure, Dr. Lumb cut out a polyp, a small growth on the inside of the colon that can grow into cancer if left unchecked. This doesn’t hurt, because the colon doesn’t have pain receptors. For many viewers, that was reassuring to see. One commenter, named Mitzie, said, “Thank you Dr. Lumb for letting us view this procedure! You have answered all of my concerns.”

The video has over 17,000 views on Facebook and prompted over 350 comments and questions both during and after the procedure.

Both Logan and Dr. Lumb are glad to see people are finding the video reassuring. They hope it will prompt more people to get screened for colon cancer.

To learn more about colorectal cancer screening, click here.


How to make an accurate list of your current medications

Having an accurate and detailed list of the medications you take is very important.

When you visit the doctor or pharmacist, they need to know what medications you’re taking so they can ensure any new medications they give you don’t cause problems with your current ones. Knowing the name and dose of your medications, as well as how often and when you take them helps to avoid medication error, which can be very serious. Negative interactions between two medications, or an accidental overdose can be very harmful, and may even result in death

At Hamilton Health Sciences, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians play an important role in preventing medication errors by completing a ‘best possible medication history’ with patients. This is part of a process called medication reconciliation.

You can help by bringing an up-to-date list of the medications you’re taking. Learn how in this quick video with clinical pharmacist, Ivana Jankovic.

To enhance your list, you may also include information like who prescribed the medication, the date it was prescribed and how long your doctor told you to take it for.

In addition to keeping track of your current medications, it’s important to ask questions about them, and any new medications you’re being prescribed.

During an appointment with a clinical pharmacist or doctor, have these five questions handy:

1. Have any medications been added, stopped or changed? Why?
2. What medications do I need to continue taking and why?
3. How do I take my medications and for how long?
4. How will I know if my medication is working and what do I watch for?
5. Do I need any tests and when do I book my next visit?

By coming prepared to appointments, and playing an active role in your health care, you can reduce the risk of medication errors and potential harm.

Click here to download a printable form where you can track your medications.

A special celebration for baby Beau

When Emma and Alex learned they were having a baby boy, they envisioned him being carried down the aisle at their upcoming wedding. In September 2016, dozens of Alex’s family members from Australia would be flying in to celebrate their big day.

Emma’s pregnancy was relatively normal, but ultrasounds showed that the baby had clubfoot. As a precaution, the couple, who are from Niagara, decided to deliver at McMaster University Medical Centre.

When Beau was born in May, doctors whisked him away. He wasn’t breathing, and it soon became clear that something was seriously wrong. Beau was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

“That little baby just had so much love in his life.”

“We didn’t know what was wrong with him, but he couldn’t breathe without a machine, and he didn’t cry, or move,” Emma recalls. “It was really hard not knowing, but we kind of held out hope that he would get better.”

Beau and his family quickly won over the hearts of the staff in the NICU that were caring for him. One of his primary nurses, Cristina DaSilva, soon earned the title “Auntie” and developed a special bond with the family. “It was just so amazing to see how much they loved him,” says DaSilva. “That little baby just had so much love in his life.”

Over the next few months, the team tried to diagnose what was causing Beau’s problems. They kept him as comfortable as possible and he continued to charm his parents, passing little milestones in his life.

“I remember when he first opened his eyes,” Emma says. “I remember when he moved his arm, and groaned for the first time. Everything he did is saved in my memory.”

As their September wedding date drew closer, Emma and Alex began to realize that Beau wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital on their special day.

“We wanted to make sure we could celebrate with him,” says Mastoris. “It was important to us that he was part of that day.”

The couple decided that they would drive back to Hamilton from Niagara with their photographer after the wedding ceremony, and take some special photos with Beau. Emma had purchased a tiny suit for him to wear.

“When we heard about their plan, we wanted to make sure that time was special for them,” says Alex Koehler, another of Beau’s primary nurses. “Me and some of the other nurses started gathering wedding decorations, and we strung a whole bunch of doilies for the wall where they’d be taking pictures.”

Leading up to the wedding, staff wrote well wishes for the couple on a big poster that would be hung in Beau’s room. The night before, Koehler and her colleagues set to work decorating the space in white. They hung streamers, tissue paper flowers and wedding bells.  She penned a letter from Beau to his parents and strung the backdrop of doilies against the wall where the photo shoot would take place.

“It was really a team effort,” Koehler says. “This family really touched all of us and we wanted to do this for them. It was the least we could do.”

The day of the wedding, DaSilva dressed beau in his blue three piece suit, and brushed back his thick hair.

When Emma and Alex arrived, staff peeked out of the rooms they were working in, standing and clapping as the couple walked by in their suit and dress.

“It was really nice to see them all there for us,” says Alex. “When you go through something like this, these people become your family.”

“I knew they were going to decorate a bit,” Emma adds, “but what they did was just so amazing. They did so much for us and Beau, and we are so grateful for everything.”

“He brought us together with these special nurses, who have become like family, and he taught us so much.”

The little family of three spent time together as their photographer snapped photos. For both parents, it stands out as a special memory in Beau’s life.

Beau sadly passed away a few weeks after his parents’ wedding. He had an extremely rare genetic disorder that only four other babies have been diagnosed with.

His life was short, but it was full of love.

“I feel like he was given to us for a reason,” says Alex. “He brought us together with these special nurses, who have become like family, and he taught us so much. We’re so grateful for every moment we had with him.”


How to prevent frostbite

The cold and windy weather has come, which means staying bundled and warm is important this winter! Without proper insulation, frostbite can occur.

Frostbite is a treatable but potentially serious condition, where both the skin and underlying tissue (fat, muscle and bone) become frozen. The skin may feel hard to the touch and can appear white and waxy. Some symptoms of frostbite include: swelling, numbness, itching, burning and deep pain as the area is warmed. Serious cases of frostbite can kill and damage tissue to the extent that amputation is required.

How to prevent frostbite in Canadian weather

In Canada, more than 80 people die from cold over-exposure and many more suffer dramatic injuries as a result of frostbite and hypothermia in a given year. Frostbite can happen within minutes to uncovered body parts in very cold conditions with a high wind-chill factor.

Mild frostbite (frostnip) affects the outer skin layers and appears as a blanching or whitening of the skin. In severe cases, the frost bitten skin will appear waxy looking with a white, greyish-yellow or greyish-blue colour. The affected parts will have no feeling (numbness) and blisters may be present. Other symptoms that indicate frostbite are swelling, itching, burning and deep pain as the area is warmed.

How can you prevent frostbite?

  • Wear several layers of light, loose clothing that will trap air, yet provide adequate ventilation that lets perspiration evaporate.
  • Be sure your clothing and boots are not tight. A decrease in blood flow increases the risk of frostbite.
  • Coverings for the head and neck are important.
  • Protect your feet and toes. Wear two pairs of socks. Wool is best.
  • Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear lightweight gloves under mittens so you’ll still have protection if taking off your mittens.
  • It is important to seek medical attention if signs of frostbite are suspected.

As we continue to head into the heart of the winter season, remember to stay warm and bundled!

Try this yourself!

Turn on a fan. Stand in front of it. You will feel colder because of the wind cooling your skin, but the temperature in the room has not changed. You cannot make the room any colder, no matter how high you turn up the fan. Similarly, no matter how strong the wind blows, the temperature of the air outside does not change. Now dab some water on your skin. Stand in front of the fan again. The wet skin will feel much colder. This demonstrates how important it is to stay dry when outdoors in cold and windy conditions. (Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada)

If you suspect frostbite:

  • Seek medical attention.
  • Re-warm injury under medical supervision, if possible.
  • Get to a warm place. Stay warm after thawing.
  • Rest the injured areas (avoid walking on frost bitten feet, etc.).
  • Leave the blisters intact. Cover with a sterile or clean covering if protection is needed to prevent rupturing.
  • Keep the affected parts as clean as possible to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Elevate the affected area above the level of the heart.
  • Make sure your tetanus booster is up to date (within 10 years).
  • Do NOT allow your injury to thaw then refreeze. This is very dangerous and can cause serious or permanent injury. It is better to delay warming (for example, keep walking to a permanent shelter rather than warm frozen toes at a temporary shelter – then expose them to more cold on the rest of the trip.)
  • Do NOT use dry heat (sunlamp, radiator, heating pad, etc.) to thaw the injured area.
  • Do NOT thaw the injury in melted ice.
  • Do NOT rub the area with snow.
  • Do NOT use alcohol, nicotine or other drugs that may affect blood flow.


So you have to wear a cast…now what?

When you fracture a bone, a cast can be a very important part of the healing process. It protects the limb and prevents too much movement. And while your cast takes care of you, it’s important to take good care of your cast in return.

Caring for your cast

Here are some helpful tips to help your limb heal, keep your cast in good condition, and prevent infection:

  • To reduce swelling and pain, elevate your cast. For a leg cast, lie flat and lift your leg using pillows so it’s 10cm above your heart. For an arm cast, place a pillow on your chest and cross your arm over it.
  • Wiggle and exercise joints around your cast to improve circulation.
  • Never scratch under your cast with an object like a coat hanger or knitting needle. If you break the skin under the cast, this can cause serious infection. Instead, try blowing cool air inside with a hairdryer to relieve itch.
  • When bathing, wrap your cast in a plastic bag and tape it at either end. If your cast gets damp, use the cool setting of a blow dryer to dry it. If it gets wet, call your health care provider. You can also purchase a waterproof cover to seal off your cast. Even if you’ve covered your cast to protect it, don’t submerge it in water.
  • Keep your cast clean and avoid getting dirt, lotion or powder inside. Use a damp face cloth to wipe around your cast and remove dirt. Wipe a vinegar and water solution around fingers and toes to eliminate bad smells. After wiping around your cast, make sure to dry the area thoroughly.
  • Don’t drive while wearing a cast. Most insurance companies will not cover you.
  • Follow your health care provider’s instructions for bearing weight on your cast. That may mean staying off a casted leg, or avoiding carrying a bag using your casted arm.
  • Pay close attention to how your casted limb feels, and seek medical attention if necessary. Read below for some common concerns.
  • Last, but certainly not least…NEVER remove your cast.

Get immediate medical help if:

  • Your limb is increasingly swollen or painful
  • Your hand or foot is numb, tingly or burning
  • Fluid is coming from the cast
  • Your skin is turning blue, purple or white
  • You have a fever or chills
  • The cast is rubbing your heel or elbow
  • Your cast is damaged, too loose or too tight

Setting SMART goals: how to make your resolutions stick

Dr. Sheri Nsamenang, psychologist, Children’s Exercise and Nutrition Centre, McMaster Children’s Hospital

With the new year comes enthusiasm around self-improvement. New Year’s resolutions are fun to make, but many people find it difficult to maintain them throughout the year.

Resolutions are often broad and vague, which makes them hard to achieve long term. Instead of vague resolutions, focus on creating good habits. To do this, you need to set SMART goals for the habits, plan the goals, act on your goals, and review your goals.

Make sure you celebrate each step towards your goal by rewarding yourself in a way that doesn’t throw you off track.

To set SMART goals, identify habits you want to create, modify, or improve on, and reasons why you want to practise those habits. Once you’ve decided what you want to accomplish, you have to keep yourself on track. Tell people about your goals so they can help you to stay accountable. Use technology, like a calendar on your smartphone, to set reminders. Prioritize the goals, starting with small goals that are steps to achieving your bigger goals.

Be ready to act on your goals and ask for help along the way. Teaming up with an exercise buddy or checking in with a friend is a good way to keep yourself on track. Make sure you celebrate each step towards your goal by rewarding yourself in a way that doesn’t throw you off the wagon. That could be treating yourself to a massage or purchasing a piece of clothing. For kids, activities like a sleepover with a friend are great rewards.

SMART goals help you stay motivated, focused, responsible, and are a proven way to succeed at creating good habits.

It’s important to review your goals to check on your progress and modify them as needed.

Why is it important to set SMART goals? SMART goals help you stay motivated, focused, responsible, and are a proven way to succeed at creating good habits.

Parents can help their children with goal setting by acting as role models, giving them choices, providing encouragement, focusing on applauding effort and successes, and collaboratively problem solving around challenges.

So, what does a SMART goal look like? Check out this short video to learn what to include in your goals:

SMART goals are:

Specific- goals should be clear and precise

Measurable- you should be able to tell when you’ve accomplished your goal

Achievable- set goals within your reach

Realistic- know how you will follow through and break goals into smaller steps

Timely- set a definite timeline for achieving your goals