Six Goals to Help Achieve Weight Loss
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Goals are important. They give us purpose, provide direction and guide our actions. But if we stop there, the likelihood that we’ll achieve them is slim.
Let’s take weight loss. You can’t just wish the pounds away. Changes have to be made in your behaviors–what you eat, how much you eat, the amount of activity you do, the way you handle stress and so many other factors. Setting short-term and long-term goals along the way will help you make your dream a reality. Utilize these tips to create effective goals.
- Break it down. Take your “big,” outcome goal and break it down into more manageable weekly or monthly goals. Then, go even further and determine your action plan–what you’ll do day-to-day over the next few weeks.
- Be specific. Vague goals don’t do us much good. Determine the who, what, when, where and how of your plan. Too vague: “I’ll drink less alcohol.” More specific: “I will drink sparkling water in place of alcohol Sunday through Thursday, and I’ll limit myself to two glasses of wine on Fridays and Saturdays.”
- Measure your progress. Whether it’s logging on a smart phone app or putting a star on your calendar to mark the completion of a behavior, it’s crucial to monitor your progress along the way. Goals should not only be measurable, but you need to do the measuring too.
- Create a plan B. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t expect perfection. Making your goal adjustable right from the start will greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll stay on track. Think through what will happen if _______ happens, and write down your back-up plan. For example, if you miss your lunchtime walk due to rain or a meeting conflict, your plan B could be to walk after dinner (with your raincoat if needed).
- Set a timeframe. Set start and stop dates for your action plan goals. Knowing you only have to abide by this new “rule” for four weeks or two months will make it more palatable. Just make the timeframe long enough to evaluate if this new behavior is working for you. Then when the end date arrives, extend it (and possibly step it up a notch), revise it or set a new goal.
- Go public. Saying your goal out loud to someone else makes it real. Whether it’s your weight loss coach, a co-worker or your entire family, sharing your goal with another person amplifies the commitment and increases your chance for success. It can also help you develop the support network needed for lasting change.
Here’s an example of an effective goal that will set you up for success: “I will walk on my treadmill Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings after dinner for 15-20 minutes as evidenced by a star on my calendar. If I miss an evening, I’ll make it up the next day or on the weekend. If accomplished for four weeks, I will reward myself by downloading four new songs from iTunes. I will inform my husband and kids about my goal.”
Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity. Be prepared to review and revise your action plan and longer-term goals regularly. In addition, striving for improved health shouldn’t just be a focus in January; use these goal setting tips all year long.
You’ve got this. Now, get a pen and paper and go turn those resolutions into reality.
For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2667.