Goal Setting for Weight Loss

by Kristin Davis RD
If you’ve ever accomplished something big, like finishing your college education, starting a business, or traveling abroad, you’ve probably worked with setting goals. Goals are the finish line that you cross when you have worked hard and accomplished what you set out to do. They are tangible, sometimes difficult to achieve and you’ve probably stumbled a time or two getting there.

In weight loss, goal setting usually means pounds lost, a lower BMI, or less body fat. But it also means you will start freeing yourself to do the things you’ve always wanted. Most people who struggle with their extra pounds don’t allow themselves to partake in life as fully as they could without the extra weight. It’s important that you value yourself and all the potential you have today even if you are nowhere near your ideal weight. This isn’t about getting down on yourself but improving your health and wellbeing instead.

That’s why goal setting is so important. Goal setting is like mapping a route from where you are today, to where you want to be at some point in the future. It takes some thought and some time but goal setting can be the difference between a dream that never happens and the final accomplishment that leaves you with a feeling of personal satisfaction for having made it. There are many different ways to map out your goal but one of the most popular models is the SMART goal.

Taking the time to make your goal with enough definition is what makes this technique successful. SMART is the acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. When you break a goal down into these categories, your goal comes into focus and you can start moving ahead more clearly.

Specific is simply that. Detailed insight about what your goal looks like and how you think you will get there. For example, I will go for a 30 minute walk around my neighborhood three times a week. Measureable means you have a way to determine whether or not you’ve accomplished your goal. Achievable takes a realistic look at your goal to help you decide if you’ve gone too big or too small. Relevance is adding meaning to your life, not just creating a goal that has no significance for you. And Timely is the deadline for achieving your goal. It’s the little push that makes it feel a bit urgent to do something towards your goal.

Other things to consider when setting a goal is the possibility of conflicts, time-crunches, people who think you can’t do it, and of course, your biggest critic, you. These roadblocks are obstacles that blind-side you and otherwise knock you off course. It’s important to be on the lookout for these complications before they come up so that you can create some proactive strategies to overcome them.

Action steps are the daily, weekly, and monthly ways you are going to get closer to your goal. They are the little wins that you achieve as you make your way. They can keep you on track and ultimately may become the habits that you need to incorporate into your life to achieve your goals and maintain a new lifestyle.

It may seem like it’s enough to merely think about your goal and what to do to get there and it will happen. But it’s important to write your goals down, in essence, committing to get there. Don’t be afraid that putting pen to paper means that it’s set in stone. Writing your goals is the start of your journey and being flexible along the way will help you get past the road blocks as well as spark new ideas of how to get there. Be positive, look forward to what you want to achieve, use strong words such as “will” and “going to” and avoid words that weaken your stand, like “maybe” and “might.”

The most important thing you need to get started with your goal is your own buy-in. Sounds obvious, but if you don’t believe you can do it, you probably won’t. You need to believe in yourself and your goal to actually get through the hum-drum aspects that come along with long-term goals. Beyond that, you need to have a good reason to achieve the goal. Wendy Lipton-Dibner, author of Shatter Your Speed Limits, says that your goals need a fire beneath them, a passionate desire that will help fuel your dream into reality. It may appear on the surface to be a shallow goal, such as wanting to buy new, smaller sized clothes when you reach your goal weight. However, with a little digging, you may discover that looking good makes you feel more confident, and confidence will prompt you to get out of your dead-end job and into starting your own business. Starting your own business will leave you with a self-fulfillment that you’ve never experienced before! Don’t discount the “surface” reasons for wanting to achieve your goal – but don’t settle there either. Ask yourself what you will personally get out of achieving your goal. If emotions and even tears come up, you’re probably on the right track.

In the same vein, don’t expect you will instantly be happier for having shed pounds, bought a new car, or having saved a nest egg. Physical achievements may enhance your life but expectations of inner happiness won’t necessarily come true if you’re banking on a 50-pound weight loss to make your relationships better. Look for how weight loss can help you achieve other things in your life but realize that you are still you.
Don’t be afraid to push yourself, get a bit uncomfortable, and even discover the tenaciousness you never thought you had. Start setting your goals and achieving the things that are important to you. That’s what life is all about.

For help achieving your weight loss goals, come to a SMART Goal session with us. Goal setting class is offered monthly. You can also read the book Shatter Your Speed Limits by Wendy Lipton-Dibner or check out websites like Mindtools.com and About-goal-setting.com.