Deciding to lose weight is one thing. But actually losing it requires a workable plan, and that starts with realistic goals.
Often, people set their sights too high. For example, they might aim to drop 30 pounds in a month, even though experts say that losing half a pound up to 2 lb a week is more reasonable. When they fail to reach an unrealistic goal, they may feel defeated and lose their motivation.
Achievable goals, on the other hand, have the opposite effect. Succeeding at a goal makes you more motivated to keep working.
To set yourself up for success, make sure your weight-loss goal has these six characteristics:
- Your ultimate objective may be to lose weight, but that’s too broad and vague to be very helpful. Narrow it down to exactly what you will do, as well as when and how often you will do it. You may want to set both eating and exercise goals. For example, you might aim to eat a piece of fruit at lunch every day and go to cardio class at 6 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Choose a goal that’s a little challenging, but well within your capabilities. It shouldn’t be so difficult that it seems overwhelming.
- Frame your goal as something added to your life (such as walking more) rather than something taken away (such as watching less TV).
- Make sure your goal can be measured. For example, this could be minutes spent walking or servings of vegetables. Then monitor your progress.
- Re-evaluate frequently. If you’ve haven’t reached your goal yet, do you need to fine-tune it? If you have, are you ready for a new goal?
- Avoid perfectionistic thinking, such as “I’ll always stick to my diet” or “I’ll never miss a workout.” Take occasional lapses in stride and get back on track as quickly as possible.