Creating SMART Weight Loss Goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”  -Tony Robbins

Setting SMART Weight Loss GoalsMedical weight loss can help you reach your goal weight, but it will take time to achieve this important objective. As you gradually make progress towards your goal weight, setting smaller goals can help you plan out your path to success and stay motivated along the way.

Think of your weight loss program as a football game. Winning takes strategy and steady progress. You’ll need to work your way down the field play by play, planning out how you’ll reach each first down, field goal and touchdown. Setting goals is like choosing plays: it will help you keep moving forward until you’re victorious.

The goals you set during medical weight loss should be “process goals,” like exercising regularly, instead of “outcome goals,” like losing 50 pounds. Because changing your habits is the key to long-term weight loss, these process goals can be the incremental steps that guide you to success.

To keep your goals as helpful as possible, you should make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Tied to a Deadline.

Specific

A vague or general goal will be difficult to evaluate and won’t provide any framework for reaching it. Though a goal to simply “eat better” may have good intentions, it will be impossible to track your progress, and it says nothing about what you will need to do to be successful.

Think of when, where and how you’ll work towards your goal, and everything you’ll need to get started. Instead of a nonspecific goal like, “I will start exercising this year,” try something more focused like, “This week I will walk at least three times for 30 minutes each time.” With this precise objective in mind, you can start thinking of exactly how to reach it.

Measurable

It is much easier to evaluate your progress towards a goal if it has units that can be easily measured. By establishing goals that can be tracked—in terms of minutes exercised, number of days writing down what you eat, etc.—you’ll be able to clearly see how much progress you’ve made and how successful you were in achieving your goal.

Time is a useful measurement in the above example. If you track your exercise habits this week and see that you walked three times for 40 minutes each time, you have exceeded your goal. If you see that you walked only twice this week for 30 minutes each time, you may need to reevaluate your approach. It will help to have a journal or other means of tracking these measurable elements of your goals.

Attainable

Though your goals should be challenging enough that they push you to do your very best, you will need to make sure that you can achieve your objectives. Successfully reaching goals that get progressively more difficult will be highly motivating, but goals that are just out of reach will be ultimately frustrating and unfulfilling.

Start small and make each goal slightly more challenging that the one before it. For example, after you’ve walked three times a week for 30 minutes each time, try walking three times a week for 35 or 40 minutes each time.

Relevant

Make sure that your goals are closely related to the changes you’re trying to make during your weight loss program, and the reasons you’re making those changes. If you want to walk three times this week, reminding yourself of why this goal matters will help you stay focused on reaching it. Is more exercise important to you because it will help you control your diabetes, or perhaps because it will help you have more energy to play with your children?

Tied to a Deadline

We’re more motivated to get things done when we have a set time limit. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete your goal, but not so much that you feel able to procrastinate. For many goals, a week is an appropriate amount of time.

Learning how to set effective and appropriate goals can help you stay motivated and successful during medical weight loss.

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