How Can I Maintain Weight-Loss Goals?
I tend to set weight-loss goals but abandon them in a month. What’s a good strategy to help me stay on track?
Karen Kemmis, PT, DPT, MS, CDE, FAADE, responds
Behavior changes are tough to make. But setting specific targets and making a plan to track progress can help you succeed.
What To Know
When it comes to goal setting, broader isn’t better. Focus on the details and think SMART.
Specific: The goal should be specific and include details about who, what, when, where, why, and how. Who is involved? What do you want to accomplish? When will you do the activity? Where will you do it? Why do you want to do it? And how will you carry out the actions?
Measurable: You want to be able to measure the steps that will help you with your goal. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, determine the number of calories you will need to take in each day in order to lose, say, a half-pound a week.
Attainable: A goal should be something that you can realistically achieve. Once you are successful with your initial goal, set another one to continue with your progress. After you lose 10 pounds, for instance, plan to lose another 10 until you hit your overall weight-loss goal.
Relevant: Determine why it is important to change your behavior, and write it on paper. You may want to lose weight to improve painful joints or to help with blood glucose control.
Time-bound: Assign a specific time to your goal. It may be best to set a relatively short time frame, such as four or six weeks, to improve your focus and dedication to the behavior change. At the end of the time period, you can reevaluate your goal and make adjustments—or create a new goal.
A general goal of losing 25 pounds, for instance, doesn’t specify how you’ll go about making it happen. A goal that follows the SMART system—eating no more than 1,500 calories per day for six weeks in order to lose weight—is specific. You can track your actions as you work toward your goal.
Find Out More
Using the SMART system is the first step toward achieving your goal. Then put the goal on paper so you can track your progress. For example, keep a daily log of the number of calories you consume or write it on a calendar each day. Achieving your goal one day will help you stay on track the next. If you struggle, you can see where that happened and make adjustments for the following day.
Changing behaviors to accomplish goals can be challenging, but setting SMART goals can improve your odds of success. Pick a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, then track your daily progress as you work toward long-term success.