Goal Setting for Weight Loss
“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
The most important thing you need to do before starting any weight loss program is to sit down and write out specific goals you want to accomplish. A goal is the purpose toward which an endeavour is directed; an objective. It is not enough to say to yourself that you want to lose weight. You need to write it out and be as specific as you can. Without a clear goal, you run the risk of failure in your weight loss efforts. Having a well-written goal it can help to keep you focused and motivated to achieve your target.
Setting Specific Goals
You need to be specific. It is not enough to say “I want to lose weight” it is too general a statement. You need to narrow it down. You also want to set a healthy goal, so consult a BMI chart to find your healthy weight range to ensure your goal weight is healthy for your height.
* Exactly how many kgs do you want to lose?
* How much do you want to weigh?
* What clothing size do you want to be?
By setting a specific goal to “lose 50kgs of fat to be a fit, sleek and healthy 65kg”, you are able to focus your efforts towards something more specific than to just “lose weight”. Once you have set your specific goal, it is best to establish a reason why you want to achieve it. A purpose behind the goal you have set yourself.
By determining a reason why you want to achieve this goal, you are adding emotion to it. You need to establish why reaching this goal is important to you. The more emotion behind it, the more motivated you will become in achieving the goal. Reasons behind your goal can be varied:
* Looking great in a bikini at the beach
* Getting into shape for a special event or vacation
* Being healthy and setting an example for your children
Don’t be afraid to set yourself big goals. Don’t listen to family and friends who tell you to ‘be unrealistic’. Nothing great has ever been achieved by being realistic. Set your goals as something you really want, not what you think you get.
That said, you will need to do some research into your goal. By consulting things such as a BMI chart, you can give yourself a healthy goal to achieve. If your healthy weight range is between 54-68kgs, it is not all right to set yourself a goal weight of 50kgs. Not only will you start to look anorexic but you could also do more damage to yourself than good. Setting your goal weight at 60kgs, however, is a perfectly fine goal.
You may find that some family and friends may feel that your 60kg goal is ‘unrealistic’, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose. They may even try to tell you that you will look anorexic and sick in an attempt to sabotage you. However, if you have done your research properly, and follow the guidelines from the healthy weight range you will be fine. Your goal may be far off in the distance, but if that is what you really want to strive towards, than don’t let anyone stand in your way.
Setting Measurable Goals
Once you have set your specific goal, you need to find a way to measure your progress or you will not know when you have reached your goals. Feel free to use one or a combination of the following methods of tracking your progress:
# A great way to help you see any changes is to take ‘Before and After’ photographs. It is best, when using this, to take pictures of your progress, generally every four to six weeks is best to see results. Try not to cover your body in a lot of clothing as they may obstruct your results. Take the plunge and wear a bikini or other bathing suit so you are able to really see yourself.
It is also a good idea to try to wear similar clothing for each photo you take. If you wore bike pants and a sports top, try to stick to wearing that for your next progress picture. If you are feeling more confident you may like to change to a bikini, however it is not recommended to go from a bikini to a sports top and bike pants. Adding clothing for these pictures may obstruct the visible changes your body has undergone.
# The scale is a great way to help measure your loss. However, you need to remember that you need to focus on how much body fat you have lost, not just the overall number on the scale. You need to remember that sometimes you may ‘gain’ weight as you may have gained some muscle while losing fat.
# Another great way to measure your success is to use a tape measure and keep track of your losses. Hips, waist, bust, thigh, calf, arm and neck measurements are the most commonly used measurements to track weight loss progress. You may even like to use an article of clothing to help track your progress.
# If your goal is to lose fat, not just weight, than you will need to measure your Body Fat Percentage on a regular basis. To do this you will need to do a skinfold test or find an online Body Fat Calculator . By checking your Body Fat Percentage, you will be able to monitor your weight loss progress, be able to see that you are losing excess fat and not muscle tissue.
Setting Realistic Deadlines
When setting deadlines for your weight loss goals, you need to remember that you did not put the weight on overnight. You cannot expect to lose weight quickly and maintain it. Just look at the fad diets you may have followed in the past. Fad diets, such as the Cabbage Soup diet, do allow people to lose weight quickly but as the ‘new lifestyle’ is not something you can maintain for a long period of time, once you stop the weight piles back on. Generally, when you follow a restrictive diet like this, you lose not only fat but also muscle weight. When the weight comes back it returns as fat, making you look fatter than when you started.
You need to aim for a weight loss between 0.5-1kg each week (which translates to about a half a percent of body fat). It may seem like a slow process, but it is the safest way to lose the weight and, more importantly, keep it off. By taking the weight off slowly, you give your body the chance to adapt to new eating and exercising habits that you can maintain for the rest of your life. By losing the weight slowly, you are more likely to be losing excess fat, and not muscle making your body look more lean and athletic.
Setting Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
So… you have set your goal to lose 50kgs. When you look at the amount you need to lose, it can feel very intimidating. By breaking you goal into long-term and short-term goals, it can make your goals seem more attainable. There are several short and long term goals you can use:
* Your ultimate long-term goal
* Three month goals
* Weekly goals
* Daily goals
* Beating your personal best
Long-Term Goal: This is your Ultimate Goal. What do you ultimately what to achieve? Don’t listen to anyone who says you cannot do it. If you have the desire and willingness to work for it, then you can achieve it.
Three Month Goal: This is an important goal if you have a lot of work to do or would like to challenge yourself and change your body. It is the perfect time frame for a short-term goal because you can achieve a lot in this period. Most people can transform their bodies in 90 days.
A sensible three month goal would be to lose 5-10kgs and up to 6% body fat. Your ultimate goal may be some way off and you may not be able to stay focused on the long-term. A three month goal can feel more manageable and achievable, it can help keep you focused on achieving your ultimate goal.
Weekly Goals: A weekly goal can help you to stay on track and provide feedback on how you are going. If you achieving the results you want, you can continue doing what your have been. If your results aren’t what you expected, you can adjust what you have been doing and get back on track.
Daily Goals: To reach your ultimate goal or even your three month goal you need to start developing new, health habits and work on them repeatedly until the come naturally. Write out a list of ‘to-do’ list of the habits you want to develop. Good daily habits can help you achieve goals such as:
* eating smaller portions
* cutting down sugar intake
* getting up early
It is not an overnight process. Like losing the excess weight, it will take time to form the healthy habits needed to achieve your goals. By making small changes and repeating them every day you can make them stick and use them to help achieve your ultimate goal.
Beating Your Personal Best: Don’t try to compare yourself with other people, even if you are working with someone to help keep each other motivated. You need to strive to constantly challenge yourself. After your initial three month goal, you can try to improve your previous results. Mix up your workouts, add a second or third weight training session. Do not just focus on improving the number on the scale, try improving and getting the most out of your workouts or adding more fresh fruit an vegetables to your diet.
Once you have written out your goals, take the time to write them out in the form of affirmations.
# Make it personal – use the work ‘I’, ‘I am’ or ‘I have’. Personal words like ‘I am” have power. By using words like these in a personal manner, you are able to reach your sub-conscious which can help give you an extra push to reach your goals.
# Write in present tense. To your sub-conscious mind ‘tomorrow’ never comes, it responds to commands given to it in present tense. Write, think and visualize your goal as if you have already achieved it.
# Write your goals in positive terms. Write what you want to achieve, not what you want or need to avoid.
Once you are happy with how your goals are written, post them up in various places so you will be able to see and read them often. By re-reading your goals on a regular basis, you help keep yourself focused and motivated to achieve your goals.
When you start achieving some of your goals, reward yourself for the hard work you have completed. Avoid rewarding yourself with food. Food is not a reward; it is to fuel your body. Rewards for achieving a goal can be something simple like a facial or a new article of clothing. If you want to give yourself larger rewards for reaching bigger goals, such as reaching the half way mark, then do so. Whatever motivates you to achieve a specific goal, perhaps go away for a weekend or visit a day spa.
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