It’s January, so you probably have a weight loss goal in place for your New Year’s resolution, right? Have you already gotten discouraged, fallen off the plan and thought about giving up? These are all of the reasons why weight loss goals are detrimental. Let me break it down. Weight loss is an OUTCOME, not a goal. While this might seem like semantics, let me tell you why. There are so many variables that influence weight loss. Many of them are out of your control. Your body weight can fluctuate several pounds every single day due to water weight. When you live and die by the number on the scale, this can easily discourage you. In addition, there are a lot of myths about weight gain. People who weigh themselves every day or multiple times per day to monitor how the “bad” eating (check out some of my other articles on this one) has impacted their weight, are bound to feel frustrated.
This is why I always deter my clients from setting weight loss goals. Weight loss will be an outcome based on behavioral changes made in eating and exercise habits. You have much more control over what you DO than the number on the scale. However, the most common goals for eating and exercise are, “I’m going to eat better and exercise more”. Hmmm. It’s a start, but I guarantee it won’t get you where you want to go. Instead, I like to stick with SMART goals….
S- Specific. What exactly will your goal look like? Get as detailed as possible
M- Measureable. How will you know you’ve achieved the goal and track your progress?
A- Accountable. Who will help keep you honest about your goal? A word to the wise, not you!
R- Realistic. Is this a realistic goal you know you can achieve? Don’t make it too to achieve.
T- Time Bound. Get very detailed about when this will be happening.
For example, instead of saying you want to exercise more, try setting a goal to walk 2 times per week (Tuesday and Thursday) at 8 am for 20 minutes. You will keep a calendar to track your progress and check in with ________(someone who will support your goal) each time you accomplish your goal. You start with two days instead of 4 because it seems more realistic right out of the gate and you can feel really proud of yourself if you exceed it. Evaluate the goal each week to see if it is working or needs to be adjusted. If you get off track, figure out what is working and do more of that. Once you find the goal is not challenging you, up the number of days per week and/or the amount of time spent. Initially, a non-food reward can also help keep you motivated. You will see much more immediate results with these types of goals and it is easier to stick with them even when the scale isn’t cooperating. Happy goal setting!