When it comes to lowering your weight, it’s not just about what you’ll lose – it’s about what you’ll gain. While it’s great to see the numbers get smaller and smaller on the scale, the lifestyle changes that come with losing weight will improve your quality of life in huge ways.
But the thought of actually making such changes can be intimidating and overwhelming – so much so that you might be tempted to throw in the towel before you’ve hardly begun. Goal-setting is integral to dieting and the weight-loss process. It helps keep you on track, makes you accountable and gives you something tangible to hold on to as you go through your weight-loss journey. It’s important to be smart when setting your goals, however, since ones that are too vague or unrealistic can actually work against you.
Whether you want to look great for your daughter’s wedding, be able to keep up with your kids or have the energy to explore a new city on your next vacation, follow these tips to make sure goal-setting makes, not breaks, your weight-loss plans.
Be smart about setting your weight-loss goals.
Emphasize process, not outcome
The Mayo Clinic breaks down weight loss goals into two categories: outcomes and process. An outcome goal would be to lose 50 pounds, while a process goal is a step it takes to get to that outcome. So, for example, process goals could be to drink water at every meal or eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Process goals are helpful because they deal with the reality of what it will take to get to your weight loss outcome. They’re also valuable because they put the focus not on the numbers on the scale, but on the healthy habits that you’re forming on your way to a better lifestyle, noted the Mayo Clinic.
Create mini goals
When setting weight-loss goals, it's important to be specific. If your goals are too vague, or if you just set the goal to lose 50 pounds and leave it at that, you're less likely to actually follow through with your plan.
Set mini-goals and focus on losing weight and being healthy in the short-term, advised the Daily Burn.
"Setting short-term milestones and building on them helps keep you focused on your progress, not how far you still have to go," said Lisa Cimperman, clinical dietician at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, in an interview with the site.
Keeping a food or activity journal can help you reach your goals.
Make sure the goals are measurable
For process goals to be truly helpful, and for real lifestyle improvements to be made, you need to make sure your goals can be clearly measured. The Mayo Clinic gave the examples of setting the goal to eat 1,200 calories a day instead of just aiming to eat better, and to set the goal of riding your bike 30 minutes three days a week instead of simply having the goal to ride your bike more.
Keep track of your progress
When your goals are measurable, it's easier to record them, and maintaining a record of your progress is integral to reaching your main outcome goal. Keeping track of the foods you eat or when you exercise in a diary or notebook is beneficial for a number of reasons, according to SkinnyMs. It holds you accountable for your actions, and serves as a physical reminder to stay on track. Because you know you'll have to write down your progress for the day, you're more likely to feel compelled to skip that slice of cake or fit in a quick workout. And by looking back through your journal, you can identify behavior patterns that you can then be more aware of going forward, for example that you tend to overeat on weekends or when you work late at the office.