Setting weight loss goals is one of the most difficult steps in a weight loss and fat loss program. The way most people approach this and set themselves goals is usually based on what we used to weigh, or what we always wanted to weigh, and more commonly what other people weigh or the weight they have lost, but is this realistic to you?
Setting realistic, well planned goals will keep you focused and motivated, but the difference between success and failure can be how you approach setting these goals, as unrealistic and overly aggressive goals can undermine all your efforts.
The first step for any weight loss goal is to set yourself a reachable target, that you can actually measure. I hear it a lot when I sit down with people, many want to lose weight – usually a stone or half a stone but have no clear vision as to how they are going to get there and when they want to get there by! The key to setting a goal is to be SMART – Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time framed.
When I talk to most people, I find that everyone feels they need to lose weight, even if they appear to be at a healthy weight. This reverts back to my article last week about weight loss vs fat loss, and the fact that most people actually want to look and feel better in themselves. Again as you self this - if you were the same weight but 2 clothing sizes smaller then would you be happy?
Goals for weight and fat loss can focus on both the outcome – I want to be 10 stone, or the process – I’m going to drink 2 litres of water a day and walk 10,000 steps. An outcome goal is what you hope to achieve in the end, whilst this goal gives you a target, it doesn’t help you to get there. A process goal is the necessary steps you will take to get to your outcome. These can be done weekly and once you achieve one process goal then you can set yourself new ones to get you to your final outcome.
Process goals are great for weight and fat loss as they focus on changing behaviours and habits that are necessary for losing weight.
Use the following tips for creating SMART goals that will help you reduce weight, decrease body fat and improve overall health.
Specific – Have all the details written down. I want to be 10 stone by August. Notice I use “I want to be… “, rather than “I want to lose… “. Lose is such a negative word, we don’t need negativity in our goals. In this section you are declaring what you are going to do to get to this goal, how long you are going to do it and when.
Measurable – If you can measure a goal, then you can objectively determine how successful you are at meeting the goal. For example, a goal for eating better is too broad and can’t be measured easily, however a goal for eating 1500 calories a day is measureable. A goal for weight loss and wanting to be 10 stone is easy to measure.
Attainable – A goal that is attainable is one that you have enough time and resources to achieve it. For example, if your lifestyle doesn’t allow you to go to the gym 5 times a week then this is not attainable, however, 3 trips to the gym may be attainable. Make sure that whatever you agree with yourself you can do it, if you can’t do it then you are setting yourself up for failure.
Realistic – For weight loss I always recommend 1-2lbs a week max and make sure your overall goal is appropriately timed. Losing 2 stone in a month isn’t going to happen (well not properly anyway). Weight loss is a journey and a steady journey is more achievable and sustainable than a quick fix. If you set your goals too high and being unrealistic will ultimately mean you don’t achieve them and will result In disappointment and the temptation to give up altogether.
Time framed – Trackable goals are best achieved if you keep a record and have an idea of what you want to do and by when. Set small timed goals that work in line with your outcome goal. For example, if you want to lose a stone by July, then by the end of April you may want to have dropped 5 lbs. Setting smaller time framed goals is going to keep you more focused, allowing you to see progress which keeps you motivated to keep going. Long term goals will help you focus on the bigger picture but may seem too difficult or too far away.
Setbacks are a natural part of behaviour change. Everyone who successfully makes changes in his or her life has experienced setbacks. It's better to expect them and develop a plan for dealing with them. We are only human after all, if you do hit a pitfall or a setback that’s fine, its happened. Life throws things at us, it’s how we deal with them that matters. Let move on and continue towards our goals.
I hope this has helped with some of the principles of setting outcome and process fitness goals. Setting goals will help you towards your fitness targets and reassessing these on a regular basis will keep you on track.
If you are struggling with your fitting goals or have hit a plateau in your current training plan, the revisit your goals or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us help you with your goals. Book in for a FREE lifestyle and fitness consultation with one of our experiences trainers.