This post applies to many looking for sustained weight loss and will focus on goal-setting for Weight Loss.  Note: If you are experiencing binge eating disorder or another eating disorder, some of the below may need to be modified.

While many can agree that they have much to benefit from weight loss, it can be one of the most frustrating things to work on. Goal-setting is a huge part of weight loss success, but also a common part of weight loss failure. Many start with goals that are out of reach and can be detrimental to progress. Poorly-crafted goals can lead to:

  • Disappointment and frustration
  • Giving up on other goals and efforts
  • Chaos in everyday routines
  • Poor self-care
  • Negative self-talk

Does this sound familiar?

Proper goal-setting cannot only help you achieve your desired weight loss but can also promote the behavior changes that sustain it! To make your goals more successful, consider the acronym SMART:

  • S: Specific. Your goal should outline how you plan to achieve it. Goals that are too broad are harder to plan for and more likely to not get done.
  • M: Measurable. How will you know if you have achieved your goal or made progress? Look to attach numbers, percentages, or traceable parts to keep on track.
  • A: Attainable: Don’t make the goal too advanced for your current routine but be sure it is a challenge. It’s alright to make some small goals to help stair-step your way to your ultimate goal!
  • R: Realistic: Personalize your goal for something you enjoy doing or that is still able to be done with your current routine. Avoid just picking the method that gets you to your goal the fastest, as it is often not realistic for your current life and may be doomed to fail.
  • T: Time-Specific: Set times to check in and assess your goal. Make it frequent enough so you can continue to progress forward, but far out enough to achieve what you plan to do.

Taking the time to make your goals SMART can actually help you plan for them and create less stress. For example, a non-SMART goal that is common is “I’ll start running tomorrow.” For someone who has never had time to exercise consistently, this is unrealistic to include in the schedule, too broad, and probably unpleasant! Instead, a more personalized SMART goal can be “I will start walking around the office for 15 minutes 3x/week.” This goal is easier to include in a current schedule, can include coworkers, or be done during calls, but is still challenging enough for someone with an inconsistent movement routine.

Some other tips for goal-setting for weight loss success include:

Make your goals visible.
Write your goals down in a journal, on your phone, or even on a sticky note in easily seen places so you don’t forget them. You can take it further by including family members or friends to help you stick to them.
Avoid black-and-white goals.
Food, nutrition, and movement all have a ton of flexibility! It is good to plan for flexibility in your goals to avoid not only failing but experiencing relapses. For example, if someone who eats ice cream daily wants to reduce their ice cream consumption, don’t say “I won’t have any ice cream these next 2 weeks” but instead say “I will plan to have one ice cream bar 2 days/week”.
Expect weight loss to be up and down, not linear.
Weight fluctuates easily during the day, and can increase/decrease due to changes in eating, drinking, using the restroom, hormones, stress, traveling, movement, etc. If you expect it to drop consistently, you will end up frustrated and give up quickly. Instead, expect your weight to bump up a little before it moves downward again.

Weight loss can result from success in non-food/movement-related goals.

Barriers to weight loss can include things that don’t seem related to weight loss at all. Common barriers to weight loss include challenges with emotional regulation, communication, stress management, finances, self-talk, and more. Consider making goals out of these and you may be surprised to see weight loss as a byproduct too! These can look like setting goals to:

  • set and stick to a limited budget for fast food.
  • Meditate for five minutes before eating a snack when stressed.
  • Make a shore wheel for the whole family.

If you have a hard time with your goal of “one ice cream bar 2 days/week” because you have too much work and are stressed, you may revise your goal to be “I will talk to my boss about getting help with one project next week”. This helps you address your barrier of stress due to work before you go back to your ice cream goal!

Small SMART goals are still SMART goals!

Progress is progress, even if the goal is as little as printing out a habit tracker, telling a friend what your plans are, or even eating one bite of fruit per day! Don’t worry about quantity, do what is best to help you move forward.

Motivated to start your goal-setting for weight loss?

Motivated to start your weight loss journey now? Contact the Bariatric Counseling Center at 210-634-2200 to find out how our weight loss program can support you in setting personalized goals made just for you!