Weight-loss goals can mean the difference between those who succeed with losing weight and those who fail and stay miserable. Realistic and well-planned weight-loss goals keep you focused and motivated. They provide a plan for change as you transition to a healthier lifestyle.
On the other hand, if your weight loss goal is unrealistic and overly aggressive, it could end up undermining your efforts.
Use the following tips to create your weight loss goals that will help you reduce weight and improve your overall health.
#1: Focus on process goals
Goals for weight loss follow into two categories – outcome goals or process goals. An outcome goal, focuses on what you hope to achieve in the end, say lose 15kgs of weight. And while this goal may give you a target, it doesn’t address how you will reach it.
A process goal is a necessary step to achieving a desired outcome. For example, a process goal might be reducing or stopping to eat junk food, walking or running 30 minutes a day, going to the gym 4 – 5 times a week, or drinking 2 litres of water per day. Process goals may be particularly helpful for weight loss because they focus on changing behaviors and habits that are necessary for losing weight.
#2: Set SMART goals
Be sure that your weight-loss goals — whether process goals or an outcome goals, meet the following criteria:
a) A good goal includes specific details. For example, a goal to exercise more is not specific, but a goal to walk 30 minutes after work every day is specific. You’re declaring what you will do, how long you will do it, and when you will do it.
b) If you can measure a goal, then you can objectively determine how successful you are at meeting that goal. For example, a goal of eating clean is not easily measured, but a goal of eating more vegetables and fruits every day can be measured.
c) An attainable goal is one that you have enough time and resources to achieve. For example, if a particular type of exercise, such as running, is physically too difficult for you, then running every day would not be an attainable goal for you.
d) Setting an unrealistic goal may result in disappointment or the temptation to give up altogether.
e) Goals are best achieved if you keep a record of your progress. If you have an outcome goal of losing 15Kgs, record your weight each week. Keeping track can help you evaluate your progress and stay motivated.
#3: Long-term and short term-goals
Long-term goals help you focus on the big picture. They can shift your thinking from simply being on a diet to making lifestyle changes. But long-term goals may seem too difficult or too far away. You may benefit from breaking down a long-term goal into a series of smaller, short-term goals.
If your outcome goal is to lose 15kgs in 4 months, you may break it down into separate goals for each month, perhaps 6kgs per month for the first month and 4Kgs for second moth and 2.5kgs for each of the last two months because early weight loss is often faster. An example of a process goal might be to run 30 minutes a day. If you currently don’t run regularly at all, you may want to start by running 15 minutes a day for two weeks and then add five minutes to your run each week.
#4: Allow for setbacks
Setbacks are a natural part of behavior change. Everyone who successfully makes changes in his or her life has experienced setbacks. It’s better to expect them and develop a plan for dealing with them. Identifying potential roadblocks such as a night out with the boys, happy hour at office etc, can help you brainstorm specific strategies to overcome them can help you stay on course or get back on course.
#5: Reassess and adjust as needed
Be willing to change your goals as you make progress in your weight-loss plan. If you started small and achieved success, you might be ready to take on larger challenges. Or you might find that you need to adjust your goals to better fit your new lifestyle.